Tag Archives: USA

How to Celebrate the 4th of July in Portugal

USA-flagportugalWe are currently in Portugal for the 4th of July, which got us thinking about whether or not we could put together a US-style cookout here. Being abroad has definitely enlightened us to what other countries think of American food, and what American foods have just not crossed the ocean. Previously, we had lamented the lack of peanut butter – we had found some at an Indian grocery – but now we have found jars twice at run-of-the-mill grocery stores at semi-reasonable prices. So it seems that peanut butter is making in-roads, but there is still a dearth of BBQ and tacos. At the Continete megastore (think WalMart) in the gigantic Colombo Mall we saw an American food section in the “foreign foods” aisle – but it consisted mostly of Old El Paso products. Burgers and craft beer, two staples of the 4th of July cookout are actually getting to be pretty popular in Lisbon, especially burgers. Case in point, the aptly named “American Music Burguer” we spotted near the University.

BurguerThough cookouts in Portugal usually include fish, if you are planning to do an American-style 4th of July cookout, most fresh meats, fruits and veggies should be readily available. However, we have also found a resource to get the esoteric-to-Portugal ingredients you may need – the “American store.” Yes in Portugal, there is a such a thing as an American store – Liberty Store (Largo de São Sebastião da Pedreira 9D, 1050-010 Lisboa). Liberty Store is stocked with such goodies as Pringles, Pancake Syrup, Beef Jerky, Barbecue Sauce, Funfetti cake mix, and the like. The strangely-named Glood (several Lisbon locations) has products from all over the world, including a sizeable US selection, with a few slightly healthier options. The products available at either store are only the most mass market of mass market – but each definitely carries products you cannot find elsewhere. Liberty Store even has solo cups, an essential to every 4th of July cookoutLibertyStore

 

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Make America Cake Again with Election Cake

USA-flagToday is election day in the US, and while the eaters voted early in Ohio last week, it has still been a stressful day watching the news and the polls. I think we, and anyone else who voted, deserves some cake – maybe even some “Election Cake.” Though it has been out of fashion for over a century, Election Cake used to be an election day staple. Election Cake represented the most popular flavors of the time: it  is a leavened sourdough cake with molasses, cinnamon, dried fruit and nuts. In the past, when people actually had to travel distance to the polls, election day was something of a celebratory affair.  The election cake hails from a time before refrigeration, and when this type of stable cake would be necessary to last through a long day at the polls and the celebration after.

election-cake

Nourished Kitchen has a great Election Cake recipe (pictured above). But if you want to get a little more historical, here’s a recipe from the Washington Post from 1796. This was long before women could vote, so making these kinds of cakes was one way to participate in the electoral process. Election Cakes are making a comeback thanks in part to Old World Levain Bakery, in Asheville, N.C., who started the “Make America Cake Again” project, encouraging knowledge of historical cakes, and encouraging bakeries to sell Election Cakes and donate the proceeds to the League of Women Voters. You can check out more recipes on the OWL page, and to see if there is a bakery selling Election Cakes near you.

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It’s Pawpaw Season!

pawpaw

Paw paws by WFIU Public Radio

It’s Pawpaw Season! Now, if you’ve never heard of pawpaws, you’re not alone. This forgotten fruit used to be grown throughout the American Midwest and South (Thomas Jefferson even grew them at Monticello), but have all but vanished from the public imagination. The flavor of the paw paw is tropical – and is variously described as a mix between a mango and a banana – and the texture is custard-y, like our Brazilian favorite, the sugar apple. However, the paw paw is hard to store and ship unless frozen, making it ill suited to large-scale distribution. Andrew Moore recently wrote a book on the mysterious fruit, “Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit.” Turns out Ohio is right in the heart of Pawpaw country, but they are sadly nowhere to be found in the Cleveland area. However, if you are going to be near Athens, Ohio next weekend – it is the annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival! We hope to make a pilgrimage there in future years. In the meantime, you can try foraging for your own pawpaws!

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Old Fashioned: the Wisconsin Supper Club

M went to school in Wisconsin and while there became fascinated by the concept of the classic supper club – a true marker of quirky Wisconsin culture.  Supper clubs are usually old-school establishments serving Prime Rib and traditional American fare, with bars and entertainment, making for a complete night out. Supper clubs were popular throughout the US in the mid-20th Century, and though they faded in popularity in most of the country, they remained strong in Wisconsin (where they always serve the state drink, the Brandy Old Fashioned, of course). The documentaries “Old Fashioned” and “Supper Club” document Wisconsin supper clubs and their loyal fanbases. Though many of these Wisconsin Clubs seem preserved in the past they are still surviving – and in some cases thriving – today. One of our favorite parts about supper clubs are their usually-fabulous mid-century signs, like this one from the Hob Nob in Racine. Everyone in Wisconsin has a favorite supper club, and if you need some help starting out, WisconsinSupperClubs.net provides a thorough database of supper clubs in the state.  A wave of food nostalgia has also brought new spins on the supper clubs to the fore, like one of our favorites, the Old Fashioned in Madison, and there is now even a faux-retro Wisconsin supper club in Chicago! supperclub_hobnob1

Photo By Jerry Luterman

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The History of Frybread and Navajo Tacos

Navajo Taco in California by A culinary photo journal

2000px-Navajo_flag.svgFrybread (which is what is sounds like – a delicious fried, savory dough) is now a food associated with Native American culture and celebrations, and it had found its way into a number of popular dishes (especially in the Western US), most notably the “Navajo taco.” The Navajo taco is simply frybread topped with whatever taco toppings you like. You can find Navajo tacos throughout the west, and though they may seem like a novelty, they actually have a sad history. According to the Smithsonian:

Navajo frybread originated 144 years ago, when the United States forced Indians living in Arizona to make the 300-mile journey known as the “Long Walk” and relocate to New Mexico, onto land that couldn’t easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans. To prevent the indigenous populations from starving, the government gave them canned goods as well as white flour, processed sugar and lard—the makings of frybread.

Navajo tacos and frybread also remain somewhat controversial because although they have become a widely-accepted symbol of Native American pride, they are not particularly healthy (similar to most fried foods). If you are not lucky enough to live near a place that has Navajo tacos on the menu, you can find recipes for making your own with ingredients you probably already have on hand, or a more complex version with Osage hominy salsa.

 

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The History of Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving

One of the mainstays of the American Thanksgiving Day table is pumpkin pie. But when did pumpkin pie become associated with the holiday? Though pumpkin pie has changed through the years, pumpkin, which is native to North America, may have been part of the original Thanksgiving Day feast. Recipes for pumpkin pie date back to England (pumpkins having been brought to England from the new world before the Mayflower – confusing, right?).

ThanksgivingCard

However, some of these early “pumpkin pie” recipes varied widely, and some had no crust, or consisted of a custard or apples baked inside of a hollowed out pumpkin itself. As legend would have it, the town of Colchester, MA delayed Thanksgiving in 1705 due to a molasses shortage that ruined any plans for pumpkin pie. The first published pumpkin pie recipe in the US appears in Amelia Simmons’ extremely popular cookbook American Cookery (1796), and in fact contains 2 variations.

American_CookeryNo. 1. One quart (pompkin) stewed and strained, 3 pints cream, 9 beaten eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg, ginger, laid into paste No. 7 or 3, and with a dough spur, cross and chequer, and baked in dishes three quarters of an hour.

No. 2. One quart of milk, 1 pint pompkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice and ginger in a crust, bake 1 hour.

By the 1800s, pies were an ingrained part of most Thanksgiving traditions, at least in the north. Pumpkin pie as we know it today usually is made with canned pumpkin, which was only introduced by Libby in the mid-20th Century. And thanks to Libby, 80% of the canned pumpkin in the US comes from one town, Morton, IL. There are so many pumpkin pie recipes out there, I can’t even begin to recommend one, but chances are you’ll be sampling a piece of pumpkin pie history this Thanksgiving!

pumpkinpie.jpg

Pumpkin Pie by Danube66

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Candied Apples Around the World

Candy Apples by

Candy Apples by Andrea Williams

Candied apples are an ubiquitous sight during autumn in the US – whether covered in a red shell or hard toffee – you are sure to see a permutation of them at any pumpkin patch, hayride or Halloween event. In the UK they are a popular treat on Bonfire night – Guy Fawkes’ Day. Though they seem like a timeless treat, candied applies were invented only at the turn of the 20th century. The “red” coating is usually cinnamon flavored – and you can DiY your own apples by using “Red Hot” candies. British-style toffee apples can be made simply as well, using golden syrup.  However, the candied or toffee apple is not just an Anglo-American thing. Dipping apples or apple-like fruits in sweet coating is popular around the world. In France and Brazil the same candy-coated fruit is called an “Apple of Love.” We were especially interested in the Northern Chinese Tanghulu, which are small fruits on a stick dipped in candy coating in the same method as candied apples. You can make Tanghulu with any fruit – even strawberries – sounds like a perfect Halloween snack to me!

Tanghulu

Tanghulu in China by Joni Kong

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Julia Child’s 100th Birthday

Julia Child would have turned 100 today, so it’s the perfect time to reflect on her amazing contribution to the world of gastronomy.  When Julia Child published Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961, it completely rekindled American interest in French cuisine. The book has since gone into 18 printings (and is even available as an eBook). Child continued to spread her love for French cooking through a series of successful television shows, beginning with The French Chef, one of the first TV cooking series, and subsequent cookbooks. However, one of her most important contributions is introducing Americans to the fun of cooking, rather than treating cooking as a chore.

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American Independence Day…in the UK

We cover a lot of international holidays and festivals on ETW, but that got us thinking, in every other country American holidays are international. So what kind of recommendations would those in other countries give to celebrate the American holidays (if we could find such sites)? We did some scouting, and came up with some international, specifically UK, sites that had recipes to celebrate July 4th at home. We noticed a trend toward BBQ, which makes sense given the cookout tradition of the 4th. The Good Food Channel in the UK suggested Cherry Pie and Pork Ribs. The BBC went even more BBQ heavy with pulled pork and a few varieties of ribs. It’s interesting to see some of the other recipes the BBC has in the “American” section, like fluffy American pancakes.

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