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Archive for Food Holidays

FOOD HOLIDAY: It’s National Peanut Butter Day

If you love peanut butter, expand your horizons and try some of the more than two dozen flavored gourmet PBs we’ve had the joy to experience. First, take a look at our article on the different flavors of gourmet peanut butter. Then, Read our individual reviews of P.B. Loco and Peanut Butter (Peanut Better is USDA certified organic and kosher, too). P.B. Loco’s Sun-Dried Tomato PB is one of our favorite flavors, by itself or with turkey, ham, roast beef or cheese. It makes wonderful hors d’oeuvres, too—people can’t believe what they’re eating. Whether you fill celery, fennel, pastry cups or just serve it on crackers with a counterpoint of olive or other vegetable (or even a salty peanut), it’s easy and fascinating. You can do similar things with the Asian Curry PB, but we love to use this flavor to make quick and yummy sesame noodles. On the sweet side of P.B. Loco, the Sumatra Cinnamon and Raisin PB is the best we’ve ever had of the genre, and we can eat the White Raspberry Chocolate from the jar for dessert. If you need a real pick-me-up, try it on a piece of chocolate bar—you’ll forget all about peanut butter cups. Read our full review of P.B. Loco.   Peanut Butter
Even if you think plain peanut butter is delicious as is, try the gourmet flavors.
Moving on to Peanut Better, the savory flavors knock our socks off. You might not consider buying Onion Parsley or Rosemary Garlic Peanut Butter—but you’d be missing out on a taste sensation. Enjoy them in the sandwiches and hors d’oeuvres described above, or an any recipe that calls for PB—the dimension that these nut butters add to peanut soup cannot be described! The Thai Ginger And Red Pepper (also great for sesame noodles), Spicy Southwestern and Hickory Smoked PBs also rock the house. The sweet flavors are also delightful, but the savories blow us away. Read our full review of Peanut Better. They’ll make you look at peanut butter not as a bread spread, but as a gourmet cooking ingredient. Happy Peanut Butter Day!

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Rhubarb Pie Day

June 10th is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day, a vegetable harvested in April and May in the northern hemisphere (the southern hemisphere harvest is in October and November, apple and pumpkin pie season for those on the other side of the Equator).

Yes, rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit. The giveaway might be that it looks like red celery stalks with cabbage-like leafy tops—although the two vegetables are actually not related. Some varieties of rhubarb have dark green stalks.

By the time it gets to market, the leaves of the rhubarb are usually cut off, and we only see the red stalks.

The leaves are removed because rhubarb leaves contain toxic substances that can poison humans—and cats, dogs, horses, rabbits. Don’t try to repurpose them; the only place for them is the compost heap.

Native to Asia, rhubarb has long been used in Chinese medicine. As anyone knows who has cooked rhubarb, it needs copious amounts of sugar to offset its natural bitterness. Thus, it can be served as a vegetable, but its use as a sweet food didn’t come into play until sugar became widely available in the 17th century.

 

rhub-230.jpg

Rhubarb—it’s pretty, and after you add lots of sugar, it’s tasty and sweet. Photo courtesy of OurOhio.com.

 
But since then, what a lovely choice for food enthusiasts. Stewed rhubarb is a delight, as is a rhubarb or strawberry-rhubarb pie or crumble, rhubarb ice cream, jams and marmalades. In generations past, rhubarb ketchup was a popular condiment.

As a savory, rhubarb can be made into salsa, sauces for chicken and pork, and join beets in a green salad. Check out these recipes.

The reason you don’t see more stewed rhubarb or pie is that it’s relatively laborious to work with the vegetable. It’s fibrous, so after you cook it, you need to process it through a food mill.

We learned the joys of cooking rhubarb from our Nana, who made copious amounts of rhubarb throughout rhubarb season; and we assure you, it’s worth it.

FRUIT OR VEGETABLE?

How can you tell the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

Fruits carry their seeds on the inside—think apples, bananas, melons, pears, and plums. The only exception is the strawberry, which carries its seeds on the outside.

By the same token, the following “vegetables” are botanically fruits; we just think of them as vegetables because they are not sweet: avocados, eggplants, olives, squash, tomatoes and zucchini.

Avocados and olives are tree fruits, just like apples and oranges.

  

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FOOD HOLIDAY: It’s National Blonde Brownie Day

It’s National Blonde Brownie Day—the blonde brownie is also known as the blondie. Celebrate with your favorite blondie, or send someone a gift of one of our favorites, from Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties, a brownie company that makes a variety of blondies (they’re round, to boot!). The Cinnamon Blondie, shown in the photo, has a streusel topping—it’s a combination blondie and coffee cake. Can’t beat that! The Nutty Blondie, another favorite, combines sweet and salty with a topping of salty almonds, cashews and pecans. Strawberry Blonde is a peanut butter blondie with a strawberry swirl—PB&J in a blondie. And Tahiti, one of the best sellers, is a blondie topped with toasted coconut, cashews and dark chocolate chunks, with white chocolate morsels inside the blondie. All four are winners. Read our full review of Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties, in the Cookies & Brownies Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Blondie
Sugardaddy’s Cinnamon Blondie—a blondie with a coffee cake topping.
 

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FOOD 101: What’s A Foodie? A Gourmet? A Gourmand? An Epicure?

Are you an epicure, gastronome, gourmet, gourmand or glutton?

The Old Foodie, of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, takes on the discussion thusly:

“In the lexicon of lip-smacking, an epicure is fastidious in his choice and enjoyment of food, just a soupçon more expert than a gastronome; a gourmet is a connoisseur of the exotic, taste buds attuned to the calibrations of deliciousness, who savors the masterly techniques of great chefs; a gourmand is a hearty bon vivant who enjoys food without truffles and flourishes; a glutton overindulges greedily, the word rooted in the Latin for ‘one who devours.’…

“After eating, an epicure gives a thin smile of satisfaction; a gastronome, burping into his napkin, praises the food in a magazine; a gourmet, repressing his burp, criticizes the food in the same magazine; a gourmand belches happily and tells everybody where he ate; a glutton embraces the white porcelain altar, or, more plainly, he barfs.”

Or not.

THE NIBBLE’s take is a bit different. Here is our response to an inquiry from a reader:

FOODIE: A foodie can be defined as someone who has a passion for high quality food, and pursues it with zeal. Foodies are interested in all foods, including everyday and casual foods like breads and potato chips, as long as they are the finest quality.

A foodie is a different psychographic than a gourmet. A gourmet is considered to be a person who has sophisticated tastes in food and wine. Foodies can be gourmets, but many foodies are not gourmets: They just prefer the best of the basics.

By the same token, some gourmets are not foodies: They prefer their rarefied experiences, and are not excited, e.g., by the thought of searching Chinatown for the best scallion pancakes, or finding a truly amazing old-fashioned jelly doughnut.

A foodie is not, then, someone who likes to eat out (almost everyone does) or photograph and post his/her food online (most people of a certain inclination do). It just makes you like everyone else in today’s culture.

   

Official Foodie Handbook

Foodie Tee Shirt

[1] Official Foodie Handbook, published in London in 1984, launched the concept of the foodie (photo courtesy Arbor House Publishing Company). [2] Buy the shirt at Burger Junkies.

 
The term “foodie” was coined in 1984 by authors Ann Barr and Paul Levy, in The Official Foodie Handbook, a tongue-in-cheek observation of passionate food lovers (including Levy) who would wax poetic about radicchio and have enraptured conversations about their food discoveries.

The phenomenon was first recognized and described in the book by the duo, a magazine editor (Barr) and American-born journalist (Levy), both based in London.

 

Caviar & Creme Fraiche

[3] Caviar is known as fancy fare for a connoisseur or gourmet. A foodie wants the best, but it can just as easily be the best jelly doughnut (photo of caviar and crème fraîche courtesy Kendall Farms).

  GOURMET: We would argue that today’s gourmet is a broader-perspective fine food enthusiast who pursues the complex and sophisticated flavors in the major world cuisines; and that there is still a dividing line between what is accessible and enjoyable to many people, and what is more rarefied and of interest to those whose palates and noses seek higher levels of nuance and challenge (i.e., the gourmets).

A simplistic example might be the difference between the enjoyment of a fine Brie, appreciated by a large number of people, and an Epoisses, which is much more demanding of the nose and taste buds (and can be thrilling or off-putting, depending on which side of the line you stand).

EPICURE An epicure is a connoisseur, a person who cultivates a refined taste, especially in food and wine.

Epicurus was an Athenian philosopher (341 B.C.E. to 270 B.C.E.) who taught that pleasure is the highest good. Thus, epicureanism is touched with sensuous enjoyment of the food (think oohs and aahs).

A connoisseur (from the French connaître meaning “to be acquainted with” or “to know something”) is a person who has a great deal of knowledge about the a topic, in this case food and drink; and is an expert judge in matters of taste.

GASTRONOME: Gastronome and gastronomist are synonyms, as is gourmet—the emphasis being on connoisseurship as well as sensuous enjoyment.

 
GOURMAND A gourmand a person who is fond of good eating, often to excess, but generally a lover of good food. The word evolved from the Old French word for glutton, gormant. Here, the emphasis is on sensuous enjoyment and quantity over connoisseurship.

We think of of gourmet as a connoisseur, while a gourmand is a discriminating glutton.

Lastly, there’s the…

GLUTTON: A glutton eats voraciously, excessively and indiscriminatingly. The word comes from the Latin for “to gulp down.”

Where would you place yourself on this list?

Personally, we’re a hybrid: an epicurean-foodie-gourmand.

  

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