Summer of Sugar

When I was a kid, summer camp in Prescott meant meals of bland cafeteria food. Candy — even gum — was strictly forbidden. It was some stupid thing about shaping our young bodies for health and discipline. All packages from home were inspected for contraband goodies.

Good behavior was rewarded by feathers to stick in our faux Indian headbands. If we were honor campers, we were given a peacock feather at the end of the season.

I got a peacock feather one year. That same evening, I had it taken away, after my counselor found me chewing gum (sugarless, I protested, but she didn't care). My mom — ingeniously, I thought — had been smuggling the gum to me by taping single sticks to the insides of her letters, since the camp police didn't open flat envelopes.

So imagine my surprise to find a camp this summer that not only encourages consuming huge quantities of sugar, but demands it. Of course, this is a camp run by Cerreta Candy Company, a maker of homemade chocolates since 1930. The factory in downtown Glendale is hosting a Chocolate Camp through the month of August.

For just $7, campers get everything they need to make chocolate pizza, custom caramels or their own personal chocolate "art." Class times are Monday through Friday, between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

I'm thinking it would be fun to make a chocolate peacock feather.

Everything but the Quack: Kitchens can get pretty creative when it comes to stretching their food budgets. In many restaurants, the leftovers from trimmed vegetables are used to flavor stock instead of being thrown away. Meats that don't sell as entrees may be used to make salads, sauces or soup. Some places turn stale bread into croutons.

At a dinner party a while back, an elderly gentleman — a former kitchen manager at one of our private country clubs — reminisced how anything remotely edible (even leftovers) was dumped into chafing dishes for the Sunday brunch. This was before the picky health laws we have today, he groused.

But a recent dinner at the super-swanky ILO in Manhattan made me wonder just how naive restaurateurs think we are. Consider the evening's offerings: For the entree, there was a special of whole roast duck. For an appetizer, there was terrine of smoked duck foie gras (liver). And for another appetizer, there was stuffed duck neck, with smoked beet and onion soubise (purée), upland cress (peppery mustard green) and coronas (large white beans). What, no beak, feet or feathers?