We have come across recipes calling for something called “Maggi” or “Maggi Seasoning” in Latin American, Asian and European recipes alike, and it had always wondered about this mystery ingredient. So what IS Maggi?! Turns out Maggi seasoning is a thin, salty and savory sauce somewhat like soy sauce. Also like soy sauce, the role of Maggi is to give a savory umami kick to any dish. We were incredibly interested to learn that Maggi was originally a Swiss product, and was created in 1872. Maggi is now a huge international brand name which was bought in the 1940s by Nestle, and hosts a ton of other products like bouillon cubes, ramen and sauces under its banner. However, the most famous Maggi product is probably still the seasoning sauce, Maggi-Würze. You can find Maggi in a diverse array of stores given its international popularity and we have seen it in German, Chinese, Mexican and Russian food stores (the formulations may also vary by country). So what do you do with Maggi? How about make a quick Vietnamese steak, Indian-style noodles, Malaysian black pepper chicken or a Mexican michelada.
We first learned of the Post Office’s celebrity chef stamps at Chicago Gourmet this year, where you could pick up a postcard with one of the stamps and fill in your favorite dish by the chef. The chefs featured in the stamp series are: James Beard, Julia Child, Joyce Chen, Edna Lewis, and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, who are profiled in the LA Times. At Chicago Gourmet people, posted a range of dishes inspired by each chef, and I had to give a nod to Southern chef Edna Lewis’ Shrimp and Grits. The post office also recently featured a Farmer’s Market stamp series, and we certainly appreciate the foodie turn of our recent letters.
I recently stumbled across the James Beard Award-winning Perennial Plate, an excellent blog and video series which is self-described as “dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating.” Though the series started in Minnesota, they have now gone worldwide and feature videos about food and food culture from around the world: Japan to Ethiopia and beyond. Check out all of the Perennial Plate videos on Vimeo. It is hard to pick out just one to highlight! To keep with the theme of winnowing down, below is a video that is “Two weeks in Morocco boiled down to three minutes.” Having spent a little time in Morocco, this certainly captures the feeling of sensory overload. I’m definitely going to be catching up on this backlog of videos ASAP!
[Via Metafilter] We recently came across an absolutely fascinating video depicting a master fake food maker in Japan. That’s right, FAKE food, known in Japanese as sampuru, which is derived from the English word “sample.” In many restaurants in Japan, as well as Japanese restaurants abroad, enticing fake food is put on display to give potential customers an idea of what they will get. Creating the food itself is an art, and sometimes it’s even a little hard to tell real from fake.
Scouring the farmer’s markets for seasonal fruits and veggies is always fun, and assures the freshest and best ingredients. Naturally, this seasonal approach is even applicable to pie. The Modern Farmer has a visual guide for a seasonal pie for every month, even those months where produce may seem like a distant memory (think chocolate for February, like the chocolate chess pie below from Hoosier Mama below). October is apple season, so it’s time for a trip to the orchard for pie supplies.
Hoosier Mama Chocolate Chess Pie
During the World Cup this summer we talked a little about 538′s International Food Association World Cup for the best national cuisine (the winner was Italy, by the way). This time around, the data-hungry minds at 538 have turned their analysis to the best burrito in America. In some ways this seemed like a potentially even more daunting task, given the vast regional differences and preferences for burritos. However, 538 was able to develop a shortlist of 64 finalists, and burrito tester Anna Maria Barry-Jester actually went from coast to coast (and Hawaii) tasting the burritos first-hand. The burritos were ranked on five parameters - Tortilla, Principal filling, Other ingredients, Appearance and Flavor profile - each out of 20, for a best possible score of 100. The results are in, and 538 has selected a winner of the coveted “best burrito” honor: La Taqueria in the Mission district of San Francisco. This was a pretty rigorous study and I commend 538′s thoroughness, for the sports/rankings geeks, check out the bracket view. Do you agree with the results?
Filed under Links, Reviews
You know how fond we are of dessert at ETW. Further fueling our post-lunch dessert cravings, Slate wrote a blog post picking one emblematic dessert for each state in the USA. Illinois’ chosen dessert is the Brownie, which was invented in Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair, purportedly at the request of society magnate Bertha Palmer, who wanted a portable cake-like treat. What do you think of the dessert assigned to your state (if you are in the US)? Do you agree?
Brownie A la Mode (In Brazil!)
We write a lot about food on this blog, but we don’t often touch on the design experience related to dining. When it comes down to it – there is a lot of design involved in every step of the eating experience – from the restaurant/kitchen, the table setting, right down to the shape of a teacup. Fast Company has an interesting piece by John Brownlee about what role design plays in the Turkish tea experience in particular.
One of the things we are looking forward to most in London is the vast variety of British cheeses (and nice cheese shops). The video below is from Neal’s Yard Dairy, one of England’s foremost artisinal cheese shops, which specializes in local cheeses from all around the British Isles. We can’t wait to visit! In this short video below, we get to visit some local producers making St. James, Tymsboro and Montgomery Cheddar cheeses. What are some of your favorite British cheeses to recommend?
Filed under Cheese, Links
We are extremely intrigued to learn about Suppli, a Roman fried rice ball that is a cousin of the Sicilian arancini. Suppli traditionally have a cheese filling (MOST traditionally with chicken giblets), while arancini have a filling of meat ragu and peas. Of course the fillings of each can vary wildly depending on the creativity of the chef. Overall, arancini tend to be bigger (sometimes even baseball sized) while suppli are smaller. Both suppli and arancini were traditionally found in fried snack shops, but now are popular antipasti at pizzerias and other casual restaurants. We are dumbfounded that we did not have any suppli while in Rome (we need to correct that error ASAP). In any case, we think the US needs some more fried rice treats, whether suppli or arancini.
We wrote a little bit earlier about 538 Blog’s International Food Association World Cup, where users could vote for their favorite national cuisines. While the World Cup of Futebol has been over for a while, the Food Cup just ended. The four teams making it into the semi-finals were Italy, USA, Thailand and Mexico, which seems like a pretty solid match-up. The final round was between the USA and Italy, and Italy eventually prevailed. Not too surprised with the result - who doesn’t love Italian food?
Italian Pastries – just one of the country’s many culinary delights
We love our mofongo, and we are grateful that Chicago has a bunch of great Puerto Rican restaurants. Despite its deliciousness, Puerto Rican cooking flies a bit under the radar in the US. However, we have grown to love it and are looking for a good basic cookbook. Apparently much like Joy of Cooking for the US, Puerto Rico has an iconic tome, Cocina Criolla, by Carmen Valldejuli that has pretty much every recipe you need to know. This Puerto Rican classic has inspired journalist Von Diaz to get in touch with the soul of Puerto Rican cuisine by cooking her way through it, a la Julie and Julia.
[Video via Kottke] We spoke recently how authentic ramen restaurants were becoming increasingly popular across the US, and that trend has no sign of slowing down. Some of these restaurants make noodles in-house, but many buy them. Check out how fresh ramen is made for some of the most popular ramen eateries across the US, at Sun Noodle.
So the World Cup is over, and it has been quite a ride! While we are sad the Brazil went out the way they did, we were excited to share lots of food links and recipes from the countries featured in the Cup. And of course, we enjoyed the opportunity to feature Brazilian food in all of its glory. And there was some measure of victory, because Salvador’s famous Baianas won the right to sell the emblematic street food acarajé outside Fonte Nova stadium (a rare victory against FIFA)!
Happy 4th of July! We were thinking of what American food to highlight for this occasion, and we figured – what’s more American than Route 66? Even though the road is past its heyday (blame the Interstates for that), it is still home to a vast and diverse array of tasty eateries. 2,451 miles seem a little daunting? This article from Saveur lets you take a virtual roadtrip! However, with Route 66 being as expansive as it is, there are countless eateries to try – the Route 66 forum has a other suggestions, as does Roadtrippers.
Filed under Holidays, Links
We are fans of Nate Silver’s 538 for its mix of culture, sports, politics and statistics. However, now they have taken it even one further and incorporated food into the mix. Perfect! In honor of the World Cup, the 538 team has created a ranking based on the national cuisines of the countries participating in the World Cup, as well as other culinary powerhouses. Here’s their methodology:
We polled 1,373 Americans through SurveyMonkey Audience and asked them to rate the national cuisines of the 32 teams that qualified for the World Cup, as well as eight additional nations with bad soccer but great food: China, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Ireland, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
So who’s going on to the Round of 16? Personally we think the list is pretty decent, though we’d have picked Turkey over Germany.
- Mexico vs. Ethiopia
- Japan vs. Vietnam
- France vs. Argentina
- U.S. vs. Belgium
- Spain vs. Brazil
- Italy vs. Greece
- Cuba vs. China
- Thailand vs. Germany
Acai at Tacaca do Norte – a taste of Brazil!
Pablo Picasso “Le Gourmet”
[Via Brain Pickings] We are enthralled by Mary Ann Caws’ Modern Art Cookbook. It seems a little different than most cookbooks, and in this book you can find recipes, illustrations and stories, not only inspired by, but sometimes written by, famous contributors to the modern art world. We could certainly see ourselves making Kahlo’s Red Snapper, Veracruz style or Picasso’s Herb Soup.
Learning food words is usually our first priority when learning a new language. But as it turns out, even the English terms for food are vastly more regional than we thought. So we knew that eggplant is “Aubergine” in the UK and cookie is “biscuit”… but that’s only just the start. This post on Stack Exchange has a long thread about translating cooking terms between the UK, the US and Australia. One of the most interesting facts we learned was that snow peas are called “mange tout” in the UK, and when you get to jelly/jam/jello everything gets really confusing.
San Pellegrino and Restaurant Magazine’s 12th annual list of the the world’s top 50 restaurants has been released. The number one restaurant is Noma, the Copahagen restaurant helmed by Rene Redzepi, of the Nordic Food Lab. We are happy that there is a Chicago restaurant (Alinea) and a São Paulo restaurant (D.O.M.) in the top 10!
Within the past week, we have come across references to Povitica at least three times, which seems like quite a lot given the fact that until now we had NEVER heard of it at all. Povitica (aka Potica) is a sweet yeasted bread, rolled with fillings like sugar, poppyseeds, nuts and sometimes chocolate. You can see this especially when you get a swirly slice/cross-section of Povitica. It also known in the US simply, a perhaps a little boringly, as “nut roll.” The name Povitica comes from a Slovenian word, poviti, meaning “to wrap in,” though the bread or similar varieties are found throughout Central and Eastern Europe, especially in Croatia and Slovenia. Brownie Bites has a recipe for nutty Povitica, and Serious Eats has a recipe for Chocolate and Walnut Povitica, which seems especially delicious.