Archives for category: Food
Chic cacao: for the peeps, by the peeps.

Chic cacao: for the peeps, by the peeps.

Happy Easter, y’all! In Finland, nothing says “Hyvää Pääsiäistä!” like the Mignon, a handmade chocolate egg “nougated” out with almonds and hazelnuts and poured into a real eggshell. A Fazer classic since 1896 (outside of WWII), and the Finnish company’s second oldest product, the egg was a favorite of the Russian czar’s family. To this day, the confection (originally from a German recipe) can only be found around Easter in-country and in select export markets…the US not being one of them. For all those coveting one (or more) for your children’s baskets, you can hippity hop here and there. Your very own virtual hunt.

To see how these treats are filled, finished and packaged once the eggshells are sorted and cleaned, YouTube delights.  The original contents of the natural vessels go to commercial kitchens, with nary a yolk or white wasted. About 2.5 million “containers” are sourced from all over Finland. Only the best of a certain size adhere to the 54 gram weight restriction. About 2 million eggs are sold annually — impressive, considering the majority of sales occur at home, a nation of a little over five million. There is nominal distribution to Scandinavia, Russia, Germany and Canada. But, the “bunny” (as in burning, haha) question is why these are not more widely distributed. Why do Canadians have the closest luck?

Decorating ideas abound at on how to trick out the plain shells. After all, it is a blank canvas. But why not make them in assorted colors from the get-go? I’m “dying” to know what sustains the supposed Henry Ford-esque “any color so long as it’s white” tradition. Has the family-run business forgotten that Karl Fazer, the founder, had an appreciation for design and packaging, which he picked up while on professional stints in Berlin and Paris? He was also known to be a visionary marketer, placing advertisements on Helsinki’s streetcars as early as the end of the 19th century.

Naming new products was a celebrated family affair, with Karl and his wife, Berta, letting their four children in on the creativity. It was the patriarch’s time in France that likely influenced the ovoid’s name: mignon means cute, adorable and lovely in French. Each is pretty much that…in a nutshell.

Extra, eggstra! You can read more about these solid chocolate ambassadors if you’re proficient in Finnish. There are no teasers about Mignons on the English site, I suppose, because they’re not sold here. Bock, bock, bock, bock, bock! Who needs chickens when you’ve got Fazer.

Subway's subpar name.

Subway’s subpar name.

This name is awful. Are pizzas anything but flat? The real problem here is in the pronunciation miscue.

Pizza, /peats ah/, with the “zz” sounding like “ts” (as in beats, cheats and Pete’s) distinguishes itself from Pisa, as in the leaning tower kind. The “s” of Pisa is a “z” sound (as in zap, zoom, zip, Zeppelin and Zorro). Yet, Subway has introduced this flatbread/pizza hybrid using the non-pizza pronunciation: -tizza as in “tease ah,” vs. “teats ah,” per the pizza pronunciation route. Customers, relying on the word “pizza” to phonetically guide them, intuitively know something is off, even before the name is out of their mouths. Going for it yields real embarrassment, before and after.

If Subway could only come up with portmanteaus, surely there were legally available options better than this. I wonder what was explored around the descriptors (“cheesy & delicious meets crispy & square” being among “edgy,” “original” and many others). They could have likely reduced the four box top adjectives to two and used some combo of the remaining in the name. Or gone with an un-fused style.

Flatizza, trying too hard to be what it’s not, is outright flat. The name is too close for comfort and so far from good. Let’s hope it wasn’t professionally sourced. If it looks like the bad end of a contest and sounds like the bad end of a contest…it probably is.

To all considering a creative exercise, name fresh!

Marshmallow madness.

Marshmallow madness.

Argentina has its alfajores. Canadians, Australians and Brits ask for Wagon Wheels. In Japan, you eat Angel Pies. And in the southern US, it’s Moon Pies or bust.

Chocopies, however, give them all a run for their money. South Korea’s Lotte brand (among other national confectioners, such as Orion) chocolate-enrobed marshmallow sandwiches are craved by North Koreans. In fact, for those north of the border lucky enough to work at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the DMZ, bonuses are paid in part with Chocopies (hard cash being prohibited). What’s s’more, they’re the subject of speculation and sold on the black market.

Alas, times must be tougher since the most recent escalation and ease of tensions in early-mid 2013. Before the 6.5-month long closure of the manufacturing site (where educated, skilled and Korean-fluent North Koreans work for South Korean companies, earning the motherland much-needed hard currency), workers earned up to 20 Chocopies a day in addition to their regular compensation. Yet, once the park rebooted in August, they were cut to a maximum of two per day. Said one vocal local, “Nobody better lay an eye on my Chocopie!”

Sourced: South Korea.

Fiber calling!

Fiber calling!

I bought this box for the retro graphics, not having any idea what benefits psyllium husk offered. And what was the significance of the telephone, other than the side panel calls the product the “telephone brand?” Does “Sidhpur” mean phone? And why is the phone a two-handed relic? It probably dates to the factory’s founding, but, Lord have mercy.  Love the smokestacks, though…belting out the stuff, huffing and puffing the way the wind blows.

About psyllium seed husk. It’s a dietary supplement to maintain or improve one’s gastrointestinal tract. India’s and Pakistan’s answer to Metamucil or Serutan (now dead but an interesting name that spawned “backward” jokes and other similarly-spelled brands), you might say. (Metamucil supposedly contains psyllium husk as its main ingredient.) The milled form here can be mixed with a glass of water, syrup, milk, fruit juice, salted curd or lassi. I didn’t try it, so I’m not sure of the taste, if any. Gluten-free baked goods containing the husks benefit from the latter acting as a binding agent, making bread, cookies and cakes less c–r-u-m–b-l-y.

Don’t overdo it, however. Steady exposure to the dust can cause allergic reactions. Consuming too much of the fiber can actually obstruct the GI tract, if you believe the FDA. And, if you don’t mix the husks with enough liquid (1-3 teaspoons per glass), there’s even a choking hazard, especially by people with esophageal narrowing or abnormalities or those who have difficulty swallowing. Which is when and why you’ll need the phone!

Sourced: India via Thailand.

Please, porridge hot!

Please, porridge hot!

Great Scott! What spelling have we here? This hot dish also goes by porrige and parritch. According to the product’s website, “porage” comes from an old Scottish word, poray, and the French potage, for soup. Trademarked in 1914, the phrase “Porage Oats” was meant to distinguish it from rivals’ more descriptive “oat flakes.”

Symbolizing vigor, health and cultural pride, the kilted shotput thrower has been pulling his weight by pushing things further since 1924. The original champion of breakfasts.

After being the subject of two mid-20th century acquisitions, the 1880-established A&R Scott Company was bought in 1982 by one of its main competitors, Quaker Oats, Ltd. As heritage would have it, the mill at Cupar that the original manufacturer purchased in1947 has become Quaker’s sole supplier of rolled oats for all of the EMEA markets. A feat of stamina and distance, indeed.

Bonus: What does “doing porridge” mean? And no Googling.

Sourced: The Caribbean.


Come what may….

I stumbled upon this place in the town over. A shame they did not hit the mark with the logo. Kumquats are so beautiful; they are pretty on and off the tree. Citrusy goodness, too…skin and all!

No matter what might be happening, get to Watkinsville soon for a simple (but not simple-tasting) home-cooked breakfast or lunch while you take in the local art on the wall.


Refined taste.

“Contemporary” was an unexpected word-find in conjunction with a natural sweetener. Then, I learned that Taikoo® is an iconic Hong Kong brand that’s been around since 1881. In fact, it’s the oldest brand from Swire Pacific, whose parent company is U.K.-headquartered and hugely-diversified John Swire & Sons, Ltd. These days the sweet white or golden (raw) crystals are imported, but a refinery operated under the same name for some eight decades.

Picked up at a local coffee chain in Shanghai, these “sachets” sport, cups-down, one of the most sophisticated designs I’ve ever seen on a sugar packet. The Chinese characters and rust+white/grey+white color combos give it the visual edge. But wait: 太 (Tai) = “great” and古 (koo) = ancient. What lofty distinction…and verbally caloric! Premium, indeed.

Pop music.

Pop music.

Original poster art.

Original poster art.








Hardly. I knew there was a lot of gourmet popcorn out there, but “artisanal?” However you describe it, it’s tasty poppiness with a funny name. Wish there had been nuts inside. (Gary, can you fix that?) I think this logo would have looked better had the guy been in motion, like movie Mary. However, on the site, popcorn is raining.

It’s a damp cold…just bone-chillin’ day. Chicken Little me not! Dark and cloudy, but I know the Spring bulbs are lovin’ it.

Abelmoschus esculentus: Okra, no jokra!

Summer is not summer without crisp fried okra, the ultimate comfort food. I cooked up a mess last night. I was lazy (and hungry), because usually I’ll first coat the cut seed pods with a whisked egg and then cornmeal before plopping them in Spanish olive oil. A high-fiber alternative to buttered popcorn. Savory crunchiness. Texture is everything!

The word “okra” comes to English via the West African language, Akan. Should you be traveling the globe and get a hankering for such goodness, which also goes by lady’s fingers and gumbo, here’s a handy-dandy cheat sheet of how to get what you want (note the linguistic similarities):

Brazil (Portuguese): quiabo
Czech Republic (Czech): zelenina
France (French): gombo
India (Hindi/Urdu): bhindi, bhendi or bendai
Italy (Italian): gombo or abelmosco (check out the Latin heritage)
Nigeria (Igbo): ọkwurụ
Russia (Russian): okpa
Spain (Spanish): quingombó or calalú
Sub-Sahara(Bantu): kingombo
Turkey (Turkish): sebze

Edible wallpaper.

Just looking at this packaging can will me to forego the chocolate it envelops, if only for a while. O brothers, where art thy wallpaper? Founding siblings, Rick and Michael, coax out superb chocolate. Their “love affair with the spirit of craft” starts with being highly selective in sourcing the cacao beans and doesn’t end on the production floor. No siree. The bars come to you hand-swaddled in foil and paper. None is less than 70% cacao and most are above that intensity.

Their double red-headed, mast-like “M” logo befits the pair’s down-to-earth quirkiness, even echoing shared facial features. Definitely a hands-on experience. I can almost smell the factory from here.

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