Eat this Word: Amaranth

amaranthWHAT? A good Host. The Aztecs revered this mighty grain, using it in religious rituals to make what Barbara Grunes and Virginia Van Vynckt, authors of All-American Waves of Grain, liken to a Holy Communion wafer. The carnivorous sun-worshippers would combine the tiny grain with a liquid mixture that sometimes contained blood, form the concoction into cakes, and use the cakes in religious ceremonies. People who ate these cakes believed they were eating the flesh of the gods. Not surprisingly, the Spanish didn't approve of this custom, nor of the Aztecs generally. The conquistadors wiped out Aztec civilization and for good measure destroyed many acres of amaranth. For the next four centuries, the grain was practically unknown. Rediscovered a couple decades ago, it is now highly touted for its healthful properties. Amaranth greens, which taste similar to spinach, are edible, as are the seeds (which are sometimes ground to make flour). Many natural food stores

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Recipe: Shuna Lydon's Rose Petal–Vanilla Bean Shortbread

Shuna Lydon's rose petal–vanilla bean shortbreadThese rose petal–flecked cookies have a wonderful crumbly texture and a delicate sweet, floral flavor. Chef Shuna Lydon says, “Shortbread keeps for two weeks in a tightly sealed container lined with parchment paper, at room temperature. But I prefer to eat mine fresh from the oven, warm, with strong black milky tea.”

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On the Menu: February 6 through February 12

On the Menu Here’s what’s happening at the Beard House next week: Tuesday, February 8, 7:00 P.M. Elegant Vineyard Getaway Located amid rolling hills that evoke Italy’s Piedmont region, Palladio at Barboursville Vineyards has been referred to by food writer John Mariani as “one of the finest and most authentic Italian restaurants in the United States.” Chef Melissa Close Hart’s extraordinary cuisine pairs beautifully with the wines produced at the vineyard by winemaker Luca Paschina. Wednesday, February 9, 12:00 noon Beard on Books In Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West Stephen Fried traces United-States history through the development of Fred Harvey

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Eat-Q: Culinary Aphrodisiacs

candy heartsOur fascination with aphrodisiacs is nothing new. Mankind has been on the hunt for libido-fueling foods since, well, the birth of man, and our desperation can occasionally venture beyond good taste. For example, Aphrodite, the goddess of love in Greek mythology, considered the brains of a certain animal to be arousing. Can you guess which one?
A. Beetle B. Panther C. Snake D. Sparrow
See if you answered correctly—and check out our full list of aphrodisiac trivia—by clicking here.

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On the Menu: Valentine's Day Seduction

Ricco-Ong We’ll always love the tried and true chocolate and roses, but this year we’re excited for something extra on Valentine's Day: a sexy menu from the renowned team from Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Spice Market. Chef Anthony Ricco’s reinvented Asian fare will be on display, as well as tasty sweets by the restaurant’s original pastry chef, Pichet Ong. Check out the menu below (warning: heart palpitations may occur): Shaved Tuna with Chili Tapioca and Coconut-Lime Broth Spiced Chicken Samosas with Cilantro Yogurt Cod with Malaysian Chile Sauce and Thai Basil Red Curried Duck with Pineapple Sambal Tropical Fruit Sundae with Passion-Fruit Foam and Basil Seeds Ovaltine Kulfi with Spiced Chocolate Sauce and Muckwa Chocolate Cupcake with Salted Caramel and Vietnamese Coffee To view the entire menu, visit the official event page.

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