The Language of Food

•June 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

As good as the pastries and drinks are, Graham’s asset is its space. We’re attracted to Graham’s because we can sit with a friend on a comfy couch in front of a fire, on a sunny porch, or on a patio surrounded by garden. Even if the Graham’s menu doesn’t float your boat, no one can beat our space. I could never get tired of Graham’s whenever I went there to study during school. You could read for hours in your own nook, play games, or lose track of time with friends. It is, in my opinion, one of the best places to enjoy people and food. And that’s what I love most about the environment of Graham’s: that it reminds us that people and food go together. It reminds us that the fundamental truth about food is that it is, and always has been, a point of connection and community. Some would say this first about language, but it’s my point that food is just as much about community as language is. And so, by pointing out the similarities between food and language, maybe we all can develop a better appreciation for how essential food is—not just for our nourishment but also for our community.


The almost unique and underpinning truth of language is that it is essentially a bridge between ourselves and that which is outside of ourselves. Language assumes this bonding property in three essential dimensions: by connecting us with our environment (the physical), each other (the social), and what has historically been considered the religious dimension (the metaphysical).

The fact that language connects oneself to others is probably its most obvious property. Community is only possible through communication, which is accomplished only through language. But the second two dimensions are less apparent.

Language connects us to our environment as a tool of comprehension and identification. For our earliest ancestors, a stick was nothing until it became comprehended as a resource. It may have been first comprehended as a weapon, or it could have been comprehended as a means to shelter, and eventually into a source of heat. But the distance between a stick and a spear, or a roof, or kindling is language. Furthermore, as we learn more and more about brain development, we learn that comprehension of surroundings will always be indelibly linked to the development of language. How we understand that which is outside of us will always be a matter of language.

Lastly, language has historically been considered to not only connect us with those like ourselves, but also to that which transcends us. Of course, this has appeared in many ways, the most common pattern is that of a divine creator that has in some form or another communicated to us or is at least able to be communicated to. For the Greeks, this took the form of an economy of satisfaction in which language and ritual was used to coerce or appease the gods. And as the Greco-Roman pantheon crumbled under Christendom, the concept of “Logos”–the Word of God–persisted in Christianity. Theology’s literal meaning suggests humanity’s ability to speak of God, and within many global theologies, most religions even argue that speech can even reach God, such as in prayer and worship. And so, language has historically connected us also to that which is beyond.

And so we have seen that language is considered to connect us to our surroundings, to each other, and to the transcendent, but it is even more remarkable how food shares in these properties as well. Hopefully, by showing how food is essentially a thing that connects us just as much as language does, we can appreciate more how food is fundamental to our being. And in this act of appreciation, maybe we will be able to relate to food better in our daily lives and, in turn, maybe relate to each other better.


First, food connects us to our environment by way of the land. One of my favorite philosophers and theologians has always been Jacques Ellul, who when he retired, began to farm potatoes in his backyard. He was giddier from his first crop than he ever was from the completion of his dissertation. He would say that food is one of the very few ways that we are connected with the land at all anymore. Much like language, food reminds us that we are not autonomous or independent, but depend on something outside of us for our very existence. And despite the fact that we tear our food out of plastic wrap and off the shelves at the market, food will only ever come out of the earth.

Second, food has historically been considered to connect us to the religious realm as well in very important ways. Since the very beginning, nourishment was considered to be dependent upon the satisfaction of local deities. From the god of rain to the god of land, one’s survival was dependent upon the gifts of those deities. Even now, many pray before meals in thankfulness. And this was not just a one way street. Early people didn’t simply receive food, but they also had to give it up to the deities as well. Locals would satisfy their gods by way of sacrificing first fruits and offering libations. The Judeo-Christian version of this is most similar to our tithe and mission of service to others. But most importantly from the Christian perspective is that the most intimate moment with our God is in the act of Communion, in which we are invited to receive a meal before God.

Lastly, it is most obvious but often forgotten how much food is meant to connect us with each other. It has always been essential to the practice of connection and communion. For many around the world, sharing food is an act of friendship and kinship. Millions every day meet over tea, coffee, beer, and wine. But it is incredible how this aspect of food can be lost. No other species of animal is capable of a thanksgiving feast, but neither does any other species of animal escape from each other with TV dinners. No other kind of animal gathers at a table to enjoy each other over food, but no other kind of animal has invented the drive-thru. No other animal has invented such creative ways to spice, combine, and cook food, but no other animal reduces its food to calories and fat contents.

The similarities between food and language is startling. And while food is often considered to be just a necessity for life and personal nourishment, both connect us to the environment, to each other, and even the transcendent. Food reminds us once again that yet another essential aspect of life such as eating is ultimately an act of connection and communion. And so before you get that coffee to go, maybe consider grabbing a mug and staying.

Of course, as we all have surely seen, the practice of food can produce the opposite effect when misused. Food can be used for the purposes of disconnecting and isolation. And so keep watch for my next blog post that goes more in depth about the abuses of food in our modern culture.

Garrett Zajac

Homemade Greek Yogurt & New Smoothies!

•May 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hey guys! Anthony here. I make the Greek yogurt at Graham’s 318 and I wanted to talk to you all about yogurt. So, I suppose the best way to start off would be to explain what yogurt is. Yogurt comes from milk that has had bacteria added into it, which then ferments. While fermenting, the bacteria combines with the fat in the milk, and starts to thicken. This is also when the yogurt begins to get its tangy taste. The yogurt is later strained through a thin cloth, like cheesecloth, allowing the whey to drain away. What makes Greek yogurt Greek is the straining process.

Normal yogurt is strained once or twice while Greek yogurt is strained three times, or strained once for a long period of time. The longer the straining, the more whey comes out (the whey contains the carbohydrates and sugars) and the more tangy or bitter it gets, which is a good thing. Normally, the process of making Greek yogurt stops there. Nothing gets added to it. Traditionally, Greeks will serve it on toast or have it by itself with a jam or honey.

We at Graham’s 318 have discovered how great it tastes in our smoothies and have started making them with it…and boy do they taste refreshing. Now, let’s go over the difference of your store bought Greek yogurt and traditional Greek yogurt. Personally, I have had the pleasure of eating a blueberry flavored Chobani yogurt, and it’s not bad. However, it’s not the way Greek yogurt should taste. It should taste bitter, that’s the point of Greek yogurt, I mean…that’s kind of a big part of what makes it Greek. What Chobani does is add a lot of sugar and all that sugar raises the Carbohydrate and Calorie count which makes it not so healthy.




Traditional Greek yogurt contains no sugar, and very little carbohydrates. Most of it gets strained out as whey. It does contain quite a bit of fat, but because it’s strained for so long it’s a fat that can be considered healthier for you. Another great thing about Greek yogurt is it is high in protein, in fact double compared to Chobani or Yoplait. An eight-ounce serving contains 20 grams of protein where as store bought Greek yogurt contains between eight and eleven grams. Another fun thing to do is experiment with the left over whey.

My family has told me several things they have done with their excess whey and they all seem pretty interesting:
1. Substitute for other liquids when baking. It can give your baked goods a sourdough taste.
2. Put your feta cheese in it to keep it fresh.
3. Use it to boil noodles or rice.
4. Mix it half and half with iced tea.
I don’t stand by these suggestions, I’ve just been told of them.

So, basically it’s far healthier to make it yourself than to go out and buy a container from your local supermarket. And if you can’t get over the bitter taste, try adding some honey to sweeten it up a bit. Well that’s all I got for ya folks. I hope this was insightful for you, or something along those lines.

Happy eating everybody!

Let’s Talk Shop

•May 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes I like to think that coffee is the great equalizer. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. You’re probably thinking about that one time when you stopped at that one coffee shop and the barista behind the counter glared at you for ordering whipped cream on your latte or about how intimidating the menu appears because it’s all in Italian or Spanish or Martian.

First of all, a lot of baristas (and dare I say, the majority of the coffee industry) is not like that snobby, know-it-all barista you just met. One of my favorite things about the coffee world, and one of the reasons why I hope to remain in this industry until I retire, is indeed the people and the sharing of knowledge that is prevalent in coffee culture. Secondly, don’t worry about the language. A good barista will be an equally good tour guide. Which brings me back to this idea of sharing knowledge.

Coffee is something that is consumed and celebrated all over the world. For as many different places as coffee can be found, as many ways exist for partaking of this dark, rich beverage. And I have come to find that the people who enjoy a good cup of joe or sweet mocha or strong espresso are excited to share and teach about the way they do coffee. Coffee is a science.

There are a variety of roasts to choose from, a variety of brewing methods too. And of course, within those brewing methods the coffee to water ratio can just as easily be tweak for yet another variation. No matter who you are or what you like, there’s a coffee style for you. You just have to play around and be adventurous!

A good barista will guide you through the nuances of the different roasts and processes. They will also be more than willing to share their personal favorites and opinions. We are tour guides, coffee ambassadors. Ask us questions because we love to tell you about it. Or if you’re feeling intimidated, scour the Internet. There are some great blogs and recipes and other resources at your fingertips. There’s not really a wrong way to approach coffee. Oh, and about those languages,it’s all just marketing.

And speaking of resources and in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, I leave you with a little recipe for “Mexican Coffee:” start with 5 oz of your favorite coffee. Add 1 oz coffee-flavored liqueur and ½ oz of your favorite tequila. Top with whipped cream or ice cream. Yum!

Viva la café…

Written by: Talia Velasquez

Macchiatos & You: A User’s Guide

•April 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hey kids and big kids! It’s me, your ol’ pal Pat Ryan! We’re relaunching the blog, and it’s not just me, it’s going to be different staff members each week, sharing thoughts, ideas, and other fun stuff. We’re super excited, so keep an eye out to the blog for new updates!!

How was your holiday? Festive? Somber? Bodacious? Mine was awesome, lots of family, and way too much lamb, ham and yam(s). Now that we’ve exchanged niceties, lemme ask you something, guys…

Have you ever had a macchiato?

For realsies.

Have you ever had a real macchiato? If your brain is conjuring the image of a big frothy drink with a caramel drizzle on top, you have not.

“But Pat, it’s on the Starby’s menu. It MUST be what it is.”

Well, character I created for the sake of moving the narrative along, it is not. What you get at most chains that are called a “macchiato” is comparable to saying Taco Bell makes “Mexican Food.” If you’ve ever had the displeasure of paying for stomach cramps, you’ll catch my mean.

At chain stores, when you order a “macchiato,” what you’re really getting is a sweetened latte. We do make something like that here, we call it the “Metropolis Macchiato,” which is not really a macchiato either, it’s more of a sweetened, wet (not as foamy), cappuccino (never say cup ‘o cheeno). However, if you are a bad enough dude or dudette, you should try a real, authentic macchiato!!

A macchiato is a really small drink, and it is pretty much a dream for someone who loves espresso, but wants a little bit of milk foam (one of my favorite parts of any drink). It’s around 2.5 ounces, but ever bit of it is pure magic.

What set us apart from a lot of places is that we press our own espresso. Seriously, get amped up about that fact. We individually grind beans for you and hand press it before running hot water through it. It’s a complicated process that takes a high level of skill that all of our baristas have achieved. So, we have full control over the espresso, how it tastes, and how much is dispensed. I might be dwelling on this, but I’m really proud of it, and so are all of the baristas.

So, once we hand make your espresso shots, we put it into a warm demitasse cup, and foam just a little bit of milk. Foamed milk is such a wonderful experience, if you don’t like foam on your drinks, someone probably messed it up. Ok, so now we have just a little bit of foam, and we drop it right on top of those perfectly made shots. A finished macchiato is a real work of art, it looks like a teeny tiny cappuccino, and tastes like nirvana (the higher plane, not the grunge-rock band, though both are pretty neat).

So put away the whipped cream, toss out the flavoring! Next time you’re in and you want an espresso experience that will knock your socks off. And order a macchiato.

For realsies.

Your friendly neighborhood World’s Greatest Adventurer,

Pat Ryan

Olympics: My thoughts and stuff!

•August 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ve always enjoyed the Olympics.

Not because I’m big into sports, I mean, sure, it’s fun to watch people be really good at a bunch of stuff I would die try…if I ever attempted. I love watching that sort of thing, honestly! 

What I really love is that it is the WORLD coming together for one big thing. For just a few moments in our busy, stressful, over politicalized lives we can hang out and just play some games with each other. Sure, there are probably a couple of fist fights between drunk, over patriotic morons, but that’s bound to happen anywhere in any country at any time.

We’re able to come together as a planet and celebrate our prowess as a human race, and I think that’s something absolutely spectacular. If only we could be that together all the time…


That being said, I feel like we’ve missed out on a fantastic opportunity.

I’m not going to name names, but the network that has exclusive rights for the American broadcast has been unbelievably stingy with their coverage, especially considering the world we currently live in. 

If you’ve got any friends from London, or know anyone that is over there to watch the games, you’re probably getting better coverage from their twitter feeds and Facebook Timelines. Why is that?! We have the means, as a whole planet, to gather up ALL of our cameras, use ALL of our tech geeks, and ALL of the bandwidth we have in our great floating rock and broadcast EVERYTHING live, streamed to the world on the internet (or internet ready devices). I’ve noticed on the Olympic site that you can stream events a few hours after they’ve happened, and I’ve even watched a few of them, but I’ve already seen the results. Twitter has already told me.

We should be able to watch everything transpire as a planet, if there are ten events happening at once, why can’t ten people with smart phones all lay them on the table and simultaneously watch all ten events? Sure, it’d be a major pain in the hind quarters to concentrate on more than two or three, but the fact remains that a feat like this is not unimaginable, and I don’t mean within the next ten years, I mean at this very moment. I’ve seen more than three live streams at once from different people (not news organizations, just folks streaming from their phones) from San Diego Comic-Con. If you can have such complete coverage from a couple of geeks in Stormtrooper costumes, how is the world news community so far behind? And if you’re looking at it from a moneymaking standpoint, think of how much advertising you could toss in there!! It’d be like the Super Bowl times a gazillion.



All of that aside, I hope you’re enjoying the games! I know I am. I love seeing people from EVERY different background come together, work their hardest, train to be the best, and stand next to one another as the BEST that humanity has to offer. We as a human race have so much to offer to one another. Not just by means of sports, but in kinship and love. 


Happy Olympics, guys!


We love you!



I want a good, clean fight.

•July 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday was Independence Day, the Fourth of July, ID4 (for you Will Smith fans). A day when we celebrate our great country, and all that it implies.


On twitter, I saw lots of people being snarky about the holiday. My initial reaction was, “Oh, come on guys, take it easy,” but then I stopped myself.


When we signed that document, we gave ourselves the freedom to fight back, the freedom to disagree, and the freedom to never allow ourselves to be told what to think or how to think it.


You pair that up with our ol’ friend First Amendment, and you’ve got what makes us a really cool nation!!


I love having a good argument. If you remember Ben, a fella that used to be a barista, he and I had some pretty different views on the world. We were on total opposite sides of the political spectrum, on opposite sides on what roles religion should play in our day-to-day lives, and any number of other topics. You know what we didn’t disagree on? Our friendship.


Now, I’m not going to share what side of what argument I was on, that’s none of your stinkin’ bees wax! But what I will say is this: I have never had so much fun fighting with someone.


This is a lost art.

That TOTALLY bugs me.


We have become a society of “For us or against us!” We have a multiple party government system, and it’s not so you can choose to be on one team or another, it’s because both sides have a lot of wonderful, interesting things to bring to the table. I feel like we forget that sometimes. We get so wrapped up in what our newchannel of choice tells us, how our friends feel, and the general group mentality. Just because you’re aligned with one party, doesn’t mean the people in the other party are idiots. Listen to them, try to feel what they feel, try to put yourself in their mindset. Question the beliefs of someone different than you, not only will it open your mind a bit, but it’ll force that person to confirm their own beliefs, and you’ll both walk away intellectually richer for it.


We are a strong, beautiful country because of the people in it. ALL of the people in it. 

Listen to people, everyone has something amazing to say.

You are not your political party.

You are not your religious affiliation.

You are not your race, gender, sexuality, the car you drive or the shoes you wear.


You’re a person.

You’re unique.

Embrace it!!!



We’re all proud to be Americans, and we all love you!



For all the writers, and for the people who don’t write, also.

•May 22, 2012 • 1 Comment

There was a time a few years ago where I was a real stick in the mud.

Just a sad sack that I totally wouldn’t want to hang out with…Can you believe that?! Ol’ Bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed Pat Ryan was a real bum. 

Y’know the person in your life that nobody wants to hang out with because all they’re gonna do is mess up your perfectly good day?

That was me…uhg…so embarrassing to think about now…

I was bored and depressed.

I needed to get outside of my head for a while.

I needed an adventure.

So, I’d sit and think about things that used to excite me. Doc Savage and the Shadow were two old school pulps that I LOVE from days past. I’d envision myself in these incredible adventures…but again, I was not really in love with myself at the time, so I envisioned myself as a very flawed anti-hero: not the smartest guys out there, and certainly not the nicest, but a hero, more or less. These thoughts absolutely tickled me. I wanted to write them down, but I’ve never considered myself a writer…

A friend told me that the only difference between a writer and someone who is not a writer…is that one of them writes.

Simple advice, but much needed advice

So I put it down on paper. A character who called himself “The World’s Greatest Adventurer” for no known reason, who traveled with his time travel watch (something I’ve wanted since I was about 6, still scouting around on eBay for that gem…) and an Enchanted Talking Knife (based on something I came up with when I was young called the Enchanted Talking Carrot).

The character traveled through time and space, led with his fist (instead of his brain) and was not known for being nice or sensible with anyone he interacted with (including historical figured I idolize, like Tesla) When I finished, I scrawled a title on the top of the front page and handed it off to my friends:\

Pat Ryan as Pat Ryan in: Pat Ryan and the Coroners of a Future Passed

A title silly enough for the contents.

My friends loved it (or at least were sweet enough to lie to me).

I’d done it.

Pat Ryan wrote a story!

Pat Ryan got out of his rut!

Pat Ryan had his Adventure.

Y’know what? It felt awesome. 

So I kept going. And going. Now I’ve written a ton of stories featuring an idiot who resembles me, and it never grows old.

The difference between me writing short stories and me staying in a rut…was that I wrote it down.


What’s your story? What makes you write? What inspires you?

I want to hear it from you, and if you have a link to any of your work, share it with us!!! And if you haven’t started writing yet…Let’s hear your ideas!!


Show me what you’ve got, Graham’s friends!!!!


We love you!