Eat this Word: Fennel Pollen

fennel pollen WHAT? Obscure no more. Once a little known spice used by Tuscans on meat or in soups and stews, fennel pollen was introduced to an American audience by food writer Faith Willinger, an American who has lived in Italy for nearly a quarter of a century. In the 1990s she brought American chefs like Mario Batali to a butcher shop in Panzano, Chianti, owned by Dario Cecchini, who sells specialty products of the area, including fennel pollen. The flowers of the blossoming wild fennel plant are coated in a mass of yellow pollen and, when shaken loose, the powdery condiment imparts a sweet fennel flavor and aromatic flowery scent. Batali was quick to incorporate the spice in his repertoire. As he explained to us a few years ago, "You sprinkle a tiny dusting on something hot, and it gives you this heady fennel perfume. It's amazing." WHERE? Sustainable New England at the James Beard House WHEN? June 30, 2011 HOW? Crispy New England Heritage Pork Torchon with Radishes, Eloté Velouté, Fennel Pollen, and Chicharrón Crumbs

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