Monthly Archives: August 2011

Lemons

Lemons are among the world’s top fruits, from the standpoint of economic and culinary importance. However, if you think about it, it is probably the only really important fruit that nobody actually eats. It’s one of the most popular flavors in the world, but it would be unusual indeed for someone to sit down and bite into a nice, juicy lemon. But that’s not the only odd thing about lemons.

The lemon is actually something of a mystery–at least its origins are mysterious. Chroniclers of food over the centuries have attributed its origin to many places. Several have written that it started in China, yet it was not recorded in China before the 10th century, while it was known in Greece and Rome (introduced in about 185 BC), and appears in wall paintings in Pompeii. Also, the first reference to lemon in China was when two bottles of lemon juice were presented as gifts to the emperor, which would imply a certain degree of rarity. One authority says Malaysia is the point of origin, and a few suggest Persia. Interestingly, none of the places suggested as point of origin offers the kinds of conditions under which lemons grow best. Hence, the mystery remains. Continue reading

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More on Morocco

A while back, I published a post about my trip to Morocco. More recently, I was encouraged to put my notes from the trip on Wattpad (a site for writers to share their work–ostensibly in an effort to promote themselves as writers, though I haven’t seen that happen). So if you’re interested in a more detailed account of my visit, you can read my Morocco Diary on Wattpad. The gray menu bar at the top of the text box gives you access to each successive day. This is, in fact, a transcript of my diary from the trip, so it’s not polished — but there is a lot of information that might be interesting and useful, especially if you wanted to visit Morocco yourself.

If the trip sounds good to you, you might want to know that I went with Overseas Adventure Travel. If you’ve never traveled with them before, they’re an excellent outfit. I recommend them highly. Also, if haven’t traveled with them, you can give them my name and customer number (000637771A) and you’ll get $50 off your first tour.

Hope you enjoy the adventure — and maybe even become inspired to head off on your own Moroccan Odyssey.

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Saltimbocca

I recently entered a contest for food writers, which, alas, I did not win. However, because it was fun to write and brought back some good memories, I thought I’d share my essay here. The theme of the required essay was “My Favorite Dish.” Of course, what is favorite often depends on the day and the mood and where you are, but this is what I settled on.

JUMP FOR JOY

Saltimbocca alla romana. The name really says it all for me; saltimbocca is Italian for “jumps in the mouth.” It certainly seems to jump into my mouth—at least it does in Italy. I generally approach it with some trepidation in restaurants in the United States. While Fettucine Alfredo probably holds the record in this country for versions unrelated to the original, saltimbocca is also among those dishes that frequently fail to match the Italian versions. And yet, I love this dish so dearly, I keep trying—because when it’s right, it is a thing of joy.

I first had saltimbocca the first time I visited Rome. I was just 15 and still traveling with my parents, which was wonderful, as my dad was big on trying everything. Being daddy’s girl, I had been infected early on by his enthusiasm for culinary adventure. In Italy, dad introduced me to calamari, artichokes (carcciofi), and profiteroles. But it was I who discovered saltimbocca. Continue reading

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Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia

More than a year ago, I was invited to contribute a couple of major articles to a proposed encyclopedia. It was intended to be four volumes and was, at the time, called the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. Now, more than a year later, the encyclopedia, still four volumes but renamed the Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, is out.

Chances are, this is the sort of work that will mostly be purchased by libraries and universities. Each entry covers the foodways and culture of a different country. The countries I chose were Mongolia and Jordan, as I’d spent time in both places and had studied the food and customs of both. Each article includes an overview, a “food culture snapshot” (a vignette of how food fits into the life of a single family), a couple of recipes, and then sections on major foodstuffs, cooking, typical meals, eating out, special occasions/holidays, and diet and health.

It was a wonderful project. While I’m not going to suggest you buy this massive encyclopedia, I am happy to say that you can see it on Amazon — and the “look inside” feature allows you to search by topic. So if nothing else, you can at least see the scope of the work. Too bad there aren’t more projects like this out there. I could happily do this on a regular basis.

Anyway, here’s the link to the Food Cultures of the World Encylopedia on Amazon. If you’re impressed, you could always mention it to your local library. 🙂

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