Eat This Word: Heritage Turkey

 

WHAT? If the Pilgrims did in fact feast on turkey at the first Thanksgiving in 1621, it's unlikely that the bird bore much resemblance to the turkeys on today's Thanksgiving tables. It may have looked more like a heritage turkey, the ancestor of the Broad-Breasted White turkey now sold in most supermarkets. Wild turkeys, which were native to the Americas and a primary source of meat for many Native American tribes, were domesticated in Europe and North America to create heritage breeds such as the Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Jersey Buff, Slate, Black Spanish, and the White Holland. By the 1960s the industrialized Broad-Breasted White, bred for its breast meat and ability to reach maturity in just two months, began to dominate the market, and by 1990 heritage turkeys were almost extinct. Usually raised on pasture, heritage breeds develop stronger legs, thighs, and breasts than their industrialized brethren, but since they take up to 30 weeks to reach market weight they are more expensive to... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Conch

 

WHAT? Over the centuries, Caribbean islanders have played tunes on the conch, drunk from it, made tools from it, adorned homes with it, used it as a primitive form of money, and--best of all--eaten it. "There is no doubt that since time immemorial, man has been breaking open conch shells in order to get at the succulent flesh inside," according to Culinaria, A Culinary Discovery: The Caribbean. The meat of this sea snail is tough and needs tenderizing with lime or by pounding before cooking. Its taste has been compared to clams and scallops. Conch, which propels itself along the ocean floor with its foot-like muscle, is used to make stews, chowders, and fritters. In the 17th century, the beautiful spiraled pink shell of the Queen Conch was prized in Europe. Today, entire conch orchestras make beautiful music in Key West at the island's annual Conch Blowing Contest.

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Eat This Word: Jaggery

Jaggery

 

WHAT? A dark, unrefined sugar, jaggery is used in Southeast Asia and India, regions where-we're told-sugar is considered good for you! Jaggery, which accounts for 50 percent of the sugar eaten in India, is made from sugar cane and is processed by a method not unlike that used to make maple syrup. The sweet sap from the sugarcane is boiled down while several people help stir the steadily thickening syrup. The finished product has a distinctive taste and can have a consistency as soft as honey-butter or as solid as fudge. India's epic narrative Mahabharata describes how jaggery (and gur, a sugar made from date palms) was used in sophisticated sweets at the time of Lord Krishna's appearance 5,000 years ago. 

 

WHERE? Eating Stories: Montreal to New Delhi 

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Eat this Word: Huckleberry

Huckleberries

 

WHAT? Perhaps more associated with Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn than with fine cuisine, huckleberries grow most widely in the West, and along Midwestern rivers, like the Mississippi, on which Huck spent so many days lazing. Huckleberries come in many shades, including pink, white, blue-black, and purple, with the blue-black variety being the firmest and most widely available in the marketplace. James Beard was a fan, writing in American Cookery that they were “wonderful to the taste.” Unlike their close relatives, blueberries and cranberries, which have a multitude of soft, little seeds in their center, each huckleberry contains ten hard, small seeds, and their flavor is more tart. Huckleberries are not cultivated; their growing season is typically from June through August. According to Beard, they “make good pies and cakes and other typically American delights.”

 

WHERE? Jackson... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Daube

Daube

 

WHAT? "Daube might be called a more rustic cousin of boeuf à la bourguignonne, typically made with heartier red wine and perfumed with earthy dried cèpes," according to Saveur Cooks Authentic French. Daubes resemble many stews in that the meat is first browned over a high heat. Then aromatic vegetables and braising liquid (water, stock, or wine) are added, and the covered mixture is simmered for hours. Daubes are cooked in daubières, which can be made out of earthenware, stoneware, or copper. Daube de boeuf, traditionally affiliated with Provence, is the best-known daube, but every part of France has a variation, which may contain vegetables as varied as artichokes and celery, and other meats such as pork, goose, pheasant, and lamb. Originally, the cooking term daube referred to a meat dish that was braised and then served cold, but now they are almost all served hot.

 

WHERE? French... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Cassoulet

 

Cassoulet

 

 

WHAT? “There are many versions of cassoulet, all of them good and all monumentally substantial,” wrote James Beard in The Armchair James Beard. It appears that chefs across the country couldn’t agree more—versions of the classic dish will be served at three Beard House dinners this month. Cassoulet comes from the southwest Languedoc and Toulousain regions of France and is rumored to have first appeared in the seventeenth century (when the key ingredient—white beans—were brought over from the New World). Although it’s one of France’s most famous dishes, there is little consensus within the country about what constitutes a classic cassoulet. The recipe varies from region to region and from cook to cook, though it always contains various meats, beans, and vegetables that are prepared separately before being arranged in layers in a cassole—the glazed earthenware pot from which the dish gets its name. The cassoulet is then topped with a heavy sprinkling of fine breadcrumbs and... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Hush Puppies

Hush Puppies

 

WHAT? Though just lumps of deep-fried cornmeal batter, this Southern classic can inspire reveries from people below the Mason-Dixon line, where an abiding nostalgia for fish fries and pig pickin's (pork barbecues) requires a steady supply of hush puppies. "A plate of fried fish seems mighty lonely without them," Angela Shelf Medearis wrote in The African American Kitchen, and Southern cooking maven Nathalie Dupree served fried catfish with hush puppies at her wedding. The unusual name is usually attributed to people trying to quiet dogs by throwing them bits of fried treats. Who those people were depends on which story you believe--plantation servants carrying food to the dining room, Southerners hiding from Yankees during the Civil War; Reconstructionists pitying dogs left starving due to food shortages, or hunters rewarding hungry hounds after day-long excursions. Regardless, when hush puppies are made well, there's nothing like 'em. Chow down.

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Eat This Word: Romesco

Romesco

 

WHAT? This classic sauce is a specialty of the Tarragona province in the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain. The only essential ingredient that chefs agree on is the special red pepper that gives the sauce its name. Some contend the formula should be nothing more than a simple mixture of olive oil, red pepper, and bread, while others liven it up with flavorful ingredients, such as garlic, wine, chili powder, paprika, almonds or hazelnuts, and vinegar to the blend. Regardless of the recipe, the final product is usually a smooth paste, typically served with grilled poultry or fish. Each spring, there is a competition among fishermen in the Serrallo district of the province to produce the best romesco. Before thousands of spectators, the romesco-masters—who only pass their secret recipes on to their sons—set to work with their mortars and pestles to compete for the championship title.

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Eat This Word: Vacherin

vacherin

 

WHAT?  Several cow’s milk cheeses, both French and Swiss in origin, go by the name Vacherin, which contains the French word for cow, vache. Some are made specifically for fondue; others are so soft they’re eaten with a spoon. To make matters even more confusing, the word is also used for a French meringue dessert. The dessert, it’s true, was named for the cheese, which it’s said to resemble. Rings of meringue are stacked on top of one another to form a basket, which is filled with fruit and ice cream, whipped cream, or crème chantilly, and then prettily decorated.

 

WHERE? Virginia Rising Stars

 

WHEN? September 9, 2014

 

HOW? Virginia Peanut Vacherin with Oat Dacquoise, Raw Sugar Meringue, and Peanut Praline Ice... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Yuzu


Yuzu

 

WHAT? Thought to be a hybrid of the sour mandarin and the Ichang lemon, yuzu is a golf ball-sized fruit with a thick bumpy rind that ranges from green to vibrant yellow depending on its ripeness. Although the fruit originated in China, the Japanese adopted this ambrosial gem as part of their traditional winter solstice yuzu-yu, a bath in which whole yuzu are wrapped in cheesecloth and floated in the hot water so the fruit's intoxicating aroma—with notes of lime, lemon, and grapefruit—rises to meet the bather. The ultra-tart yuzu is not usually eaten whole but is used as an accent in many traditional Asian dishes.

 

WHERE? The Art of Modern Japanese 

 

WHEN? August 21, 2014 

 

HOW? Black Cod... Read more >

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