Eat This Word: Succotash

Succotash

 

WHAT? Indians introduced colonists to this mix of beans and corn (the Indian version sometimes included bear meat) and gave the dish its name, which derives from msickquatash, Narraganset for boiled kernels of corn. In A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain listed succotash (along with possom, coon, and cobblers) among the food from home that he most craved while he was travelling. Ronald Reagan once used the word as a substitute for "Podunk" to mean a backwater place; in so doing, he incensed the 600 residents of Succotash Point, Rhode Island. Sadly, so many Americans were raised on loathsome frozen succotash vegetable mix, they've written off what food writer John Thorne has described as "a quintessential summer dish... with a wonderfully delicate flavor." ​

 

WHERE? Memphis Style 

 

WHEN? August 20, 2014 

 ... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Hoecake

Hoe Cakes

Johnnycakes, ashcakes, battercakes, corn cakes, cornpone, jurney cakes, jonakin, jonikins, Shawnee cakes, and hoecakes (or hoe cakes) are all regional variations of flatbreads made with cornmeal, water, and salt. Since Native Americans showed the Pilgrims how to cook with corn, they are also most likely to have taught them how to make these precursors of our modern-day pancake. Hoe cakes were, as Culinaria United States notes, “supposedly created by slaves who cooked ‘journey’ cake batter on their hoes under the hot sun while working in the fields.” The original three-ingredient recipe has evolved during the last 400 years, and eggs, oil, butter, and even baking powder are now standard in most recipes. You can of course opt for a mix, but Aunt Jemima prefers wheat to cornmeal. Whichever recipe you use, the frying pan has become the cooking utensil of preference.

 

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Eat This Word: Burrata

Burrata

 

WHAT? On the outside, burrata appears to be fresh mozzarella. But the inside holds a surprise—an unctuous mix of cream and cheese curds. Burrata originated in Apulia and Basilicata in southern Italy and is one of several pasta filata cheeses. These cheeses—mozzarella, provolone, and cacicovallo are examples—begin with the formation of curd. The curd is heated in hot water so that it becomes melted and smooth, and then stretched, which forms the characteristically smooth surface. Burrata can also be filled with butter or a butter-and-sugar paste, hence its name. Another variation is Burrata di Andria, which is wrapped in the leaves of the aromatic asphodel plant, a member of the lily family.​

 

WHERE? The Rich Table 

 

WHEN? August 12, 2014 

 

HOW? Burrata with Strawberry Gazpacho and Chicken Skin​

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Eat This Word: Asian Pears

Asian Pear

 

WHAT? Sometimes called apple-pears, Asian pears are not, in fact, a cross between the two, but are rather the pear varieties that grow in China and Japan. (For the last century, we’ve grown them in the United States as well, mostly in the Northwest.) But Asian pears, though juicy like a pear, are apple-shaped and have the crispness of a good apple. In Japan, where they are known as nashi, they are a popular autumn dessert, served in neatly peeled slices. Asian pears come in various shades of russet and yellow, depending on the variety. They may be the ancestor of our more familiar Western pears.​

 

WHERE? Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner in Walla, Walla, WA

 

WHEN? July 18, 2014 

 

HOW? Blue Cheese with Asian Pears 

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Eat This Word: Marcona Almonds



WHAT? Prized around the world, Marcona almonds are round, flat, and tan, and the trees on which they grow require tender, loving care. Marconas, which come from Spain, are typically eaten peeled, fried in olive oil, and salted. Spanish cuisine may have more uses for almonds than any other cuisine in the world. Although we once read that almonds "exert a relaxing effect and enhance intellectual activity," we suspect the real reason the Spanish eat so many of them is simpler—taste. It's no wonder they have been called the "queen of almonds."

 

WHERE? Bay Area Brasserie

 

WHEN? June 20, 2014

 

HOW? Crispy Quail Quarters with Fig–Balsamic Sauce, Marcona Almonds, and Piment d’Espelette

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Eat This Word: Absinthe

absinthe

 

WHAT? Louche libation. A distilled, mildly anise-flavored spirit infused with herbs, absinthe was mythologized by countless late 19th- and early 20th-century writers and artists—Degas, Van Gogh, Wilde, and Hemingway among them. Often called "the green fairy," absinthe came to be considered as dangerous as it was popular and was banned in the United States and several European countries by 1915.

 

Described at the time by a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture as "one of the worst enemies of man," the seriously strong spirit, which is made with wormwood, a plant with purported hallucinogenic properties, was blamed for several high-profile cases of violence (including Van Gogh's ear-cutting incident).

 

These days absinthe's mind-altering effects have been widely disproven. In 2004 the U.S. ban was lifted, and absinthe moved off the black market and onto the shelves. The liquor, which has an alcohol content of up to 75%, is traditionally served in a glass topped... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Strudel

The James Beard Foundation on strudel

 

WHAT? Conquerors' confection. Though the delicate filled pastry gained popularity in 18th-century Austria, strudel is most likely a distant cousin of Middle Eastern sweets like baklava: its signature, razor-thin sheets of dough were passed down from the Persians to the Byzantines to the Turks and finally to the Hungarians during the Turkish occupation.

 

Strudel dough, which is made from flour with a high-gluten content, is traditionally hand-stretched until it is so thin that, as chef David Bouley wrote in East of Paris, you can read a newspaper through it. Sweet strudel fillings like apple and sour cherry are most well-known, but the dish can also be made with savory stuffings like spinach or cabbage.

 

WHERE? Jeremy Nolen's Bold German Cuisine Dinner

 

WHEN? ... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Pipikaula

The James Beard Foundation on pipikaula

WHAT? Hawaiian beef jerky. A traditional nibble at a Lu‘ au feast, pipikaula did, in fact, evolve from beef jerky. According to Time-Life’s Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking, islanders were introduced to the snack by Yankee whalers who plied the seas around Hawaii. Traditionally, strips of beef are marinated in salt, soy sauce, and garlic, then dried outdoors in a screened box that keeps flies away. Contemporary recipes often give instructions for cooking in a very low oven. "Pipi," by the way, is the Hawaiian word for beef or cow; "kaula" the word for rope. It’s neither here nor there, but we were interested to learn that Tibetans make their own version of jerky from yak meat.

WHERE? Darren Demaya, Colin Hazama, and Jon Matsubara's Beard House dinner

WHEN? September 14, 2011

HOW? Keahole Lobster... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Kaffir Lime


The James Beard Foundation on kaffir lime
WHAT? Fragrant fruit. Until recently, American cooks had a hard time getting hold of Kaffir limesbumpy-skinned, deep green, intensely fragrant citrus fruits that give a jolt of flavor to many Southeast Asian dishes. Dried or fresh, the leaves, rind, and juice of the fruit are indispensable elements in enlivening soups, salads, and curries. Kaffir limes are used in the cuisines of such countries as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia "with a frequency bordering on automaticity," Alan Davidson writes in The Oxford Companion to Food. Davidson, incidentally, objects to the name Kaffir and suggests the alternative of Makrut lime, the Thai word. Kaffir, he writes, probably comes from the Arabic word for infidel and has long been used in South Africa as a pejorative term for blacks.

WHERE? Team New Jersey Beard House dinner

WHEN? January 26, 2011

HOW? Poha

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Eat This Word: Chai

The James Beard Foundation on chai

WHAT? Spicy sipper. Chai is the Hindi word for “tea,” which makes a coffeehouse order of a “chai tea latte” redundant. (The word passed into Chinese and Japanese as “cha.”) The fragrant, milky beverage we’re referring to goes by “masala chai” in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Tibet, where it is an integral part of every social gathering. To make the tea, a combination of sweet and savory spices such as cloves, star anise, peppercorn, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and fennel are ground, boiled in water, steeped with black tea, strained, and mellowed with milk and honey. According to Indian cooking expert Julie Sahni, “The people in cooler parts of India have traditionally added spices to their tea, not just for flavoring, but also to induce heat in the body. Spiced teas are particularly welcome after an Indian meal, because they provide a gentle, more graceful ending to the intricately spiced Indian dishes.” She adds, “A plain

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