Amuse Bouche’

by Brian Clarey

The American bison has been laying low since the turn of the 20th century, when their numbers measured about a thousand after guys like Buffalo Bill and others in coonskin caps and those fringe-laden jackets rifled them down one by one, leaving the carcasses to rot on the plains.

But the furry-headed, curvy-horned beasts have made a comeback of sorts. After years of effort, there are now about a half a million of them, which sounds pretty good on the surface until you realize there used to be like 60 million of the things thundering across the plains.

Still, you should eat one – the meat is tender, low in fat and available in more places than you think (Ham’s and Natty Greene’s come to mind immediately). Most often it is ground for burgers, sometimes mixed with beef. Buffalo steaks are harder to come by unless you can arrange to shoot one yourself.

Also making a comeback: stick gum, at least according to William Wrigley Jr., whose name you might last have seen last on… wait for it… a stick of gum. To prove his thesis, his company has issued a new brand of “premium” gum (premium gum?) called “5” and sold in sticks as opposed to pellets and tabs. Long Islanders rejoice! Because, you know, they chew a lot of gum there.

And the tides of the local culinary scene bring the usual ebb and flow:

The Panda Inn, that Chinese buffet in Friendly Center that has been in operation for 15 years, has closed as of Saturday. Ken Ngo, the owner, says he was unable to renew his lease. As for his next move, Ngo says with uncertainty, “I don’t know yet.”

But burrito chain Chipotle has opened their 50-somethingth store on the corner of Bridford Parkway and Wendover Avenue in southwest Greensboro. And keeping in line with the bison thing, they sell more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant in the US.

The folks at Slow Food Piedmont have a couple films coming up: The Future of Food, part of the UNCG Sustainability Series, shows at 6:30 Thursday night at UNCG’s Jarrell Hall and purports to tell the truth about patented and genetically engineered foods. On Friday the Green Bean will be the site of a screening of Barbecue is a Noun, a film about Carolina barbecue that is sure to stir up so much controversy there will likely be extra security on hand. Because, you know, we take our barbecue seriously.

One last item: Chiquita Bananas admits to funding right-wing death squads in South America since 1997. What’s up with that?