Archives for posts with tag: food
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.

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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

Shimmy, shimmy, shake.

I bought this for the logo, font style and the brand name. Having worked for a Barcelona-based trade development organization for five years, I’m partial to Spanish brands. This is mild paprika, which in Spanish is pimentón dulce (dulce literally means “sweet”).

Turns out this company from Alicante (southeastern Spain) has been flying since 1918! They took off with a brand of food colorings called “El Aeroplano,” which also means airplane, but that term is less modern for the winged machine we know today. La Cadena (chain) is their brand of food coloring sachets, whereas saffron, paprika, other spices, seasonings, nuts and herbal teas are branded El Avión.

Slow to reach altitude, however, is the website, which had been circling the tarmac since 2009. Too bad it’s no longer got any content, because they could have really covered some ground in reviving the beautiful vintage packaging labels and promotional posters for saffron from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

…three if by iceberg.

I recently read a food-writing classic on the stories and history behind nine of the world’s most common foods. Want to know more about corn, salt, butter, chicken, rice, lettuce, olive oil, lemon juice or ice cream? Thanks to Margaret Visser, you can…in her 1986 Much Depends on Dinner. Each chapter is either a dish or garnish; in their totality, they make for a meal and some full-course reading.

I enjoyed learning how Iceberg lettuce landed its name. The miniature bowling ball-sized “heads” we now know as such were originally called Imperial, from the namesake California valley in which they (and other hybrids) were first concocted by R&D labs set on turning out lettuce to compete against the then popular New York varietal.

Lettuce was and is subject to militant-sounding perishability. According to Visser, these include brown blight, downy mildew, cabbage loopers, fleabeetles, thrips and armyworms (none of which I’d like to share my sleeping bag with). Add to those hazards the “field-to-table” distance factor that brings on rotting in transit and wilting while waiting, and you can see that “Imperial” was not combat-ready for the war on spoilage. As well, given that this research was taking place from the late 1920’s to the 1940’s, nor was the name (even with its alphanumeric versions) culturally suitable to a relatively young, heavily first-generation, immigrant nation.

What to do? Reach back to another American variety (a red-tinged leaf) called Iceberg that had initially been dismissed for its lack of commercial value. Nothing like repurposing an underutilized verbal asset. “Green” at its freshest, creative best. The name stuck like a wet tongue on a wintry metal pole.

Coconut that is over the rainbow.

Chips, that is. And why leave Dad and your siblings out when food is this viral? I bought these roasted-then-baked confections almost exclusively for the illustration, despite a weakness for coconut. Good thing, because the name is its low point. Sorry, Danielle, but these treats deserve more verbal personality…one that teases as well as it tastes. In fact, I’d even pay more than the already exorbitant $4.75 for 2 ounces if the name were more suggestive, even arbitrary or, at the very least, playful. Danielle is flat on the palate, whereas these chips are anything but. They are the Lays® of coconut: betcha can’t just eat one.

Danielle makes small batch chips from other exotic and not so exotic fruits, and the illustrations are as authentically botanical as this for the mighty coconut. Any of these would fetch “top swap” in the school cafeteria, particularly for budding designers. I tried two more (jackfruit and honey banana) of the many flavors, but it seemed I’d already tasted something similar before. If I were Asian, one thing I’d miss living here in the U.S. is the dearth of coconut edibles. Now, if only these came in larger packages.

Pringles: all tuckered out.

One way to leave your brand.

These ads are ridiculous. Really painful to see what this brand has become. The circa Laura Ingalls man and loudspeaker look like Mr. Whipple with gastritis. With the 57th way to enjoy these crisps being called “The Pucker-Up,” I cringe to think how they named the other 99 ways, although I can bet you 95 or so don’t exist. The only redemption the Procter Gamble Co. (PG) gets for producing such lame ads and letting the brand flop to irrelevancy is that in April they offloaded Pringles to Diamond Foods (DMND) for $1.5 billion. Yes, with a “b.”

It helps to know that these chips are sold in over 140 countries, often nodding to regional preferences, like the cucumber-flavored ones I found in China. Those were so mild, I had to be reminded of what I was eating. Luckily, I discovered Flutes, which completely outdid them in taste, shape and durability. Yes, there is such a thing with chips — durability, that is; the one reason these have to be sold in a can is to keep them from looking like sand at their destination. As the last of P&G’s food brands to be shed, the company can now focus on its core cosmetics and healthcare units. Let’s hope this is a good buy for Diamond. They have their work cut out for them in bringing this brand back to its game. Let the crisps begin…again!

Garden & Gun is a lifestyle magazine about the South. It’s also, in their own words “an idea about…how to live a life that is more engaged with the land, the literature, the music, the arts, the traditions, the food, and the authenticity that has shaped the Southern way of life.  It is about truly appreciating the richness of the South and knowing how that understanding can enrich one’s life and translate beyond Southern geography.”

Cultural Appreciation 101

I first saw this magazine around November 2008 while new-publication-spotting at a local bookstore. I bought that month’s edition for two reasons: 1) the name and 2) to see if what was inside lived up to the name. It did. Even the weight of the paper and cover cardstock had a good hand to it. (I just love it when I get what is promised.) I am happy that this publication is still with us…despite the economic sludge oozing about and this dawn-to-dusk, insufferable heat.

This name has symmetry. The initial hard “Gs” are guts-and-glory strong. It’s a fast, sharp, on-the-money name that promises focus and range. And it delivers.

I’ve lived all over the US and beyond. Most people I’ve met along the way do not know the South, even if they think they do. Worse still are those who’ll never admit (particularly to a Southerner’s face) that they have no interest in getting to know it. Since I am a fan (or as I like to call it, an appreciator) and have seen a lot of it, I can vouch for its ups and downs. In fact, I’ve often found myself an unofficial ambassador for the region — the Secretary of De Fence — helping people climb over from ignorance to enlightenment. Now, I don’t force anybody to see things like they ought to, but I do enjoy sharing with them what I’ve experienced in this large sweep of land from Texas to Kentucky, Virginia, due south and then over to the other LA (Lower Alabama). Don’t forget, folks: Florida is not the South, unless you’re talking old Florida, the backroads kind (what remains). Atlanta is not the South, either. Georgia, yes. There is a difference. Hey, and if the South weren’t so nice, why is it that it has been diluted by Northerners and Otherners moving here in droves and causing such a traffic ruckus?

Now, Garden & Gun needs a little help with that last sentence up there in paragraph one, and they cut themselves a tad short above by not talking about other topics they cover, such as sports and architecture (although the latter are mentioned on their site in their own blurb). No quarrels. All is well in Dixie. The South sneaks up on you. Come see what I mean.

This name is bad to the bone stick, which is just a nub trigger anyway. Everything about this product, including the bar itself, is trying to be what it is not. The carton graphics are way too busy and look an awful lot like doveicecream.com. There’s no hierarchy of messaging. Wonder how much was added to the cost of the box to get those rounded edges. They mimic the smooth, rounded shape of the bars themselves, but these curves really amount to less bar for your buck…snuggly tucked in a gold-colored foil-like wrapper. Yeah, I was really getting’ my hopes up of finding a gold-plated chain or ring inside — a la Cracker Jacks.

Wanna-be ice cream

The fun didn’t stop there, because the wrapper informs you that this “unit” is not to be sold individually. The box front illustration is “enlarged” to show detail. An ad states the product is “for pleasure seekers.” No, this is escapist food, aka nutritional therapy. They should have kept the flavor naming consistent, too. Unless they plan to have both regular and double varieties of caramel and chocolate, there is no need to write “double.” In fact, it makes me think that the classic and almond versions have less whatever (and they might), but then why not keep the products consistent within the same space. From the brand’s Twitter bio: it inspires a “stylish and luxurious lifestyle.” Magnum bars are Magnumb and numb-er.

Next time you ask someone to pick up a Magnum, be sure you specify it’s ice cream you want. Unless, of course, you’re got other ideas: 1.5 liters of your favorite bubbly, condoms and/or with re-runs of Tom Selleck as backdrop to go with that gun. Picture this: Both hands on a Magnum. The good news for the brand manager is that it seems they are appealing to their target  but at the expense of putting off others. I’m finna eat my Dove just because it is less pretentious.

Technicolor Easter

This time of year reminds me of summers on my paternal grandparents’ farm. I remember keeping vigil over the conveyor belt as the eggs rolled by and into the processing center. My cousins and I helped spot the irregulars, the too bigs and the too smalls (we had them for breakfast the next day), gently placing each in its own cardboard nest, pallet after pallet. Maybe that’s how I mastered my stacking skills. A quick dip into the walk-in freezer or a swing in the hay barn, and all was well on an otherwise blistering South Georgia day. You are never too old to dye. Happy Easter!

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