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 these. 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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Eat This Word: Membrillo



WHAT? Jam-cestor. Derived from the Latin word melimelum, or "honey apple," the Spanish word membrillo (in Portuguese, marmelada) refers both to fresh and preserved quince, a celebrated fruit that was stored in honey during classical times. According to The Oxford Companion to Food, the thick sweet paste of cooked quince and sugar is the likely ancestor of jam and marmalade. Quince, a large, lumpy, bitter, green fruit that is inedible when raw, is transformed from ugly duckling into swan with the addition of sugar and a little heat, becoming an aromatic, delicious pink jam. In his book The Basque Kitchen, Gerald Hirigoyen describes the transformation of quince into membrillo as "magical," praising the quince, beloved in the French Pays Basque as well as along the Iberian peninsula, for its "delicate, floral, almost citrusy flavor." The paste is often served as a counterpoint to the salty flavors of Manchego cheese and Serrano and Presunto ham.

WHERE?

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Eat This Word: Vacherin

The James Beard Foundation on vacherin

WHAT? A very dairy dessert. 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.

WHEN? Jean-Marc Boyer and Cedric Tovar's Beard House Dinner

WHERE? June 30, 2010

HOW? Strawberry Vacherin

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Eat This Word: Carnitas

The James Beard Foundation on carnitas
WHAT? Mexican confit. Though the word carnitas can refer to any small bits of cooked meat—that are usually served in soft corn tacos at roadside stands throughout Mexico—the most common is pork. To make pork carnitas, large pieces of shoulder and other fatty parts of the pig are simmered in vats of lard until they are crisp on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. The meat is removed from the fat, drained, and broken up into small shreds that are then stuffed into tacos. (Where there are carnitas, there are usually chicherones, or crisp, fried pork skins.) The western part of central Mexico, namely Michoacán, is known for carnitas, but truth be told they are tasty just about everywhere—even Queens, New York.

WHERE? Ivy Stark, Scott Linquist, and Hugo Reyes's Beard House dinner

WHEN? May 21, 2010

HOW? Roast Duck Breast and Duck Carnitas Enchiladas with Dried Fruit,

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Eat This Word: Mostarda

The James Beard Foundation on mostarda
WHAT? Pungent preserves. No, mostarda is not the Italian word for mustard. Though the words sound similar, this sweet-and-spicy condiment is only distantly related to the hot dog's favorite sidekick. To make mostarda, fruit is preserved in sugary syrup and given a slight kick with the addition of mustard seeds or powder. According to food writer Elizabeth David, this jam-like spread is a descendant of "the honey, mustard, oil, and vinegar condiments of the Romans, who also preserved roots such as turnips in this mixture." Cherries, figs, pears, and apricots are the most common ingredients in mostarda, but different variations include candied melon, pumpkin, or oranges. The piquant fruit accompaniment is enjoyed with boiled white meats or cheeses throughout Northern Italy. The most famous and popular variation is from Cremona, a small town in Lombardy, and includes pears, quince, peaches, cherries, and mandarins.

WHERE

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