Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stink Beans

Stink Bean aka Petai is found in Indonesia, Malaysia and other areas of South-east Asia. Usually the seed of the bean is eaten in stir fries.
It deserves its less-than-attractive name from what it does to the body odor of the eater... alter it in less than desirable way.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Apple history

The majority of the apple trees originally planted in the US were not purposed for edible apples, but to grow fruit for alcohol production.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Artichokes, when ripe and ready, will squeek when you squeeze them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Originating from the phillipines & Indonesia, cloves actually come off the dried flowers from the clove tree.
Alleged properties of cloves: helps digestion. against acne. fights bad breath. indians think it has aphrodisiac qualities. eases coughts. relaxes muscle cramps.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Greek Yoghurt

What makes greek yoghurt 'greek' and / or different from other Yoghurts?
Generally: Lower fat, higher protein content, and more 'probiotics', or bacteria per amount of yoghurt.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Berkshires (Pork)

Famed and well marketed producing area of pork products, the Berkshires are located in Western Massachussetts.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


THe Halibut is one of the largest saltwater fish. It's a flatfish usually available fresh in the summer and fall. It also contains a fair amount of tryptohan (yes, of turkey fame)...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Elderberry & flower

there are Elderberry flowers and the elderberry berries on this particular tree - both of which get used for jams, infusions, teas and so forth. However, do not eat either one raw because they contain the slightly poisonous alkaloid. This substance however does break down with application of heat / cooking.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Pistacchios are technically a sub-species of the cashew. The greener more vivacious family member i'd say.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Grenadine is sweetened and thickened pomegranate juice, generally used in cocktails.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Specialty Mustard

ABB Mustard from Duesseldorf has been produced since 1726 and is one of the oldest continous producers in Europe. Traditionally served in grey & blue ceramic pots, Vincent Van Gogh included such a pot in one of his still-lives.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Sate, originally from Indonesia (aka Satay in Thailand), are marinated and grilled meats, traditionally skewered on either bamboo or the center 'rod' of the coconut leaf.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Seltzer is called after Selters, a small German village along the rhine River that bottled and shipped naturally carbonated spring water since the 1800s. Seltzer however generally refers to man made / carbonated water, not natural spring water.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


used culinarily across the planet, the medieval Europeans used to place it under their pillows at night as a sleep aid and thwart off nightmares.
Nowadays it also happens to be one of the main ingredients in Listerine mouthwash.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Scallops are called Couquilles St. Jaques in french, Jakobsmuschel in German. In these and a few other languages the name refers to the saint "St. Jacob" of pilgrim's fame. It is one of the largest known edible mussles. Its shell to this day is the symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella.

Friday, November 26, 2010


In old egypt they blended plant sap, honey and nuts to make the precursor to today's marshmallow. Today's it made from sugar, corn syrup and a few other equally good-for-you ingredients. Sidenote: In German it is called "Maeusespeck", which means "the fatty bacon of mice". Yup, i want to put that on my sweet potatoes please.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Green Bean Casserole

Most dishes at traditional holiday feasts have some sort of historical story to them. Not so the green bean casserole. In the 50's, with convenience foods (read cans) on the rise, Campbell's was looking to promote their individual sales items while telling the ladies of the house that their new recipes were not only delicious, but easy & fast to make! Enter a dish made of canned beans, cream of mushroom soup and crispy onions out of a tin!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The root of the pasta name papardelle (look like very wide fettucine) is pappare. Which means to 'tuck into' or to 'gobble up'. How appropriate a meaning this week :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


In Shakespeares time the Brits thought it to be an aphrodisiac. Go figure.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Grapefruit Juice - enjoy & watch out.

Yes it's yummy - but if you are taking medication, watch out.
Grapefruit Juice is known to impact the potency of medications; apparently the Grapefruit (and a few other specialty citrus fruits) affects the breakdown of certain enzymes that are involved in the metabolisation of medications. As a result less medication gets broken down by your body, which in turn cause higher medication levels to remain in your body, increasing the impact of the medicine you took....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Turkey state

The turkey is Alabama's state bird. Allegedly this state also boasts the largest per acre population of wild turkeys.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November & Food

November, in the USA is:
# National Georgia Pecan Month
# National Peanut Butter Lovers' Month
# National Pepper Month
# National Raisin Bread Month
# Vegan Awareness Month

Who knew?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Boneless, Skinnless Sardines

How do you get Sardines to be boneless and skinless? is there a little man, somewhere in a shop with a tiny knife and tweezers?
Well we have heard that most of the canned boneless, skinnless sardines actually get soaked in a specialty brine for close to a year, causing the skin to disappear and the bones easily removable.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Mamay, aka Zapote Rojo, is a latin american fruit. It's rather sweet (think sweet potato meets creamy avocado) and very brightly orange, actually lending its name to the turbo orange colour it displays.
Side fact: The Mamay tree on which the fruit grows ranges from 15-45 meters high.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Cinammon is actually the inner bark of very specific genus of trees, the (surprise!) cinammon tree and originates back to Sri Lanka. It's been around the world and for a while though - the old egyptians used it in the embalming process of their mummies.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Gin distilled in England tends to be higher in alcohol than US produced liquors of the same junipery persuasion. Shocking. Myth has it that Winson Churchill thought his Martini had enough Vermouth in if the cork of the bottle passed over it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

1 dish, many names...

Potato pancakes are universally popular and have many names. They are known as Gamjajeon in Korea, Latkes in the US, Boxys in Ireland, Reibekuchen in Germany, Draniki in Russia - and happen to be the national dish of Belarus.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


It's not just a bad haircut.
It also refers to about 80 species of fish, mostly salt-water and some freshwater. They are prevalently used in mediteranean cuisine. The ancient greeks supposedly also administered a punishment for adultery using this fish...cannot elaborate more about this here without distastefully spoling appetites forever.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rooster Sauce

Rooster Sauce is an alternate name for Si Racha Sauce. It is called so because of the Rooster on the label. Si Racha takes its name from the town in Thailand it originates from.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The protein contents of different flowers are:

Cake flour:7-8%
All purpose flour:7.5-11%
Bread flour:12-13%

The more protein, the more gluten can be produced of a certain flour.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Shortening is made by hydrogenating vegetable oil, essentially creating a solid out of a liquid. It is used for pastries / baking as usually creates a crumbly light texture. It can be kept at Room temperature for up to a year.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Traditional Spaetzle are made by placing the soft dough on a "spaetzle-board" and then quickly scrape the edge of the dough with a knife, so small little pieces are chopped off and into the borderline-boiling water below.
Spaetzle are from the "Schwabenland" area in Germany, located in the southwest of the country, bordering Switzerland and France. Very patriotic "Schwaben" (people from that area) are known to take their "Spaetzelboard" with them on every trip and vacation.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Ginger is a tuber. It's inner flesh, white yellow or red depending on variety, is supposed to ease the symptoms of morning sickness and other gastrointestinal issues. the thickness of the skin (rankging from thin and supple to thick and thwarty) depends on the age of the ginger when harvested.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Though a wonderful bubbly golden, traditional champagne is made from partially and often mostly red grapes (2 reds - pinor noir and pinot meunier - & one white variety - chardonnay - traditionally get blended). Unless it is designated as "blanc de blanc" in which case it is made from Chardonnay only (when champagne). Other white grapes are allowed for sparkling wines from other areas as well.
Whether they put in white, red or both grapes - the result is usually hard to go wrong with.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gummy bears

The classic Haribo Gummybear is made of of sugar, glucose syrup, starch, flavouring, food coloring, citric acid, and gelatin.
They do also produce a halal version using bovine gelatin. Some plants also produce a vegan friendly Gummy-bear using pectin instead of Gelatin.
In NYC you need a specialty permit to serve Moluscan shellfish out of a display tank. Who is taking a bet of how many places in Chinatown actually have one of those?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Brussel Sprouts

Staying on the cabbage theme of yesterday, we'd like to note that Brussel Sprouts essentially are mini cabbages. they were first planted in the US in Louisianna, courtesy of their french importeurs.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Kimchi, the pickled & spiced cabbage is THE national food staple of Korea. A recent cabbage shortage, caused by what the economist called "freakish" weather circumstances of the season, has brought the price per head of cabbage up by over 300%, prompting a 'national crisis' in the country.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Hops, the kind used in beer, not the jumping kind, are actually the flower of a plant. First known cultivation dates back to the 700s, in, of course... Germany.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Baby Back ribs

Baby back ribs are also called loin ribs or back ribs. the 'baby' labeling indicates that they come from hogs, the male pig, not female pigs.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Winsap Apples

Winsap Apples, grown in the US and New Zealand, blossom pink not white.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Root of Pumpkin

The name 'Pumpkin' allegedly stems from the greek work pepon (πέπων), meaning “large melon".
In french it was called "pompon". The Brits changed that to "Pumpion", and finally the colonial Americans brought us the word used today: Pumpkin.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sure it's a Porcini?

The "Knollenblaetterpilz" is a variety of mushroom in central western Europe that looks like Porcini, but unfortunately is highly poisonous - mushroom collectors: Beware!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara

what's the origin of Spaghetti Carbonara? There are about 50 versions of 10 stories. i dont know which one is actual "fact", but like the following:
The meal was invented in 1944 after the allied forces entered Rome. Supposedly there was a blend of the Italian ingredients (Spaghetti & parmesan/ pecorino) running very low, with some snagged American rations (bacon and eggs... well egg powder but we'll oversee that).
Et voila - Carbonara!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

General Tsao, via NYC

The first known mention of the infamous General Tsao's chicken is traced back to the New York Times in 1977. Two New York chinese restaurants claim to be the dish's inventors - Peng's restaurant and Shun Lee palace (co-incidentally the location of the author's first meal in the US).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The italian word for Tomato, Pomodoro, literally means "Apple of Gold".
Why you wonder? because the first tomatoes that were brought to Europe were yellow/ gold in colour and thus dubbed "golden apples".

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Banana fact

The Banana Plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant; not a tree. Its sap is so sticky - it can be used as glue.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lady Godiva

Lady Godiva was the wife of the Earl of Mercia in the 1000s. Legend has it she rode naked on her horse through the village of Coventry in exchange for her husbands promise to cut taxes. Talk about public service. It is tbd how her name became associated with once grand chocolate.