The latest film from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, The Vietnam War, premieres on WTTW11 and wttw.com on Sunday, September 17. Perhaps it’s an appropriate time for a look at Vietnamese cuisine, which is a distinctly aromatic combination of disparate flavors and textures designed to engage all five senses. It is a compendium of culinary contrasts: sweet and sour, mild and spicy, cold and hot – a true example, if you will, of yin and yang. If your idea of good eating is a little bit of everything (with a generous amount of fish sauce!), you should definitely give this cuisine a try.
“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…”
– “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (Norworth/Von Tilzer, 1908)
Americans celebrate National Macadamia Nut Day in September. Not that we need an excuse to extol the virtues of this portable, vegan-friendly, lots-of-bang-for-your-nutritional-buck, versatile food.
September means many things to many people. Here at The World of Food, we’re enjoying National Potato Month, a great time to celebrate one of the world’s perfect foods: easy and inexpensive to cultivate (far more so than many other subsistence crops), and chock-full of almost every nutrient needed for survival – especially potassium and vitamin C. Also, a delicious stomach-filler, adaptable to a wide variety of purposes.
As anyone with a backyard grill can tell you, there are a wide variety of foods that can be cooked on it. Invite the neighbors, heat up your charcoal briquettes, toss your burgers, brats, vegetables, and what-have-you on the grill, serve it all up with a bottle of grocery-store sauce and deli side dishes, and voilà! You have yourself a barbecue. Easy-peasy.
But if you’re a true barbecue traditionalist, you don’t…not really. A cookout, maybe – but not a barbecue, which is all about slooooow cooking, wood-smoking, and a wide variety of regional sauces and spice rubs. And pork. Other meats, of course…but mostly pork.
Heat. High humidity. Sunburn and sand between your toes. Deep-fried everything. Yes, those dog days of summer are upon us again.
So perhaps it would be a good time for a refreshing change of pace — a journey to someplace far away, invigorating, and entirely different. Someplace like…
“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”
— “That’s Amore” (Harry Warren/Jack Brooks, as sung by Dean Martin)
Did you know that Americans collectively consume approximately 100 acres of pizza per day, which translates to 350 slices every second?
“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
— Carl Sagan
“Cut my pie into four pieces; I don’t think I could eat eight.”
— Yogi Berra
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen pie advertised. That’s how you know it’s good.”
— Adam Carolla
Just the word “pie” conjures up memories of grandmother’s house — her floury hands carefully constructing a lattice crust, the aroma of flaky, just-out-of-the-oven pastry, and result of her labors set to cool on the kitchen windowsill.
Each year on July 28 and 29, the country of Peru holds its annual two-day Independence Day celebration, (or, as it’s known locally, Fiestas Patrias peruanas). This year marks the 19th anniversary of its liberation from Spanish rule and is also an opportunity to honor its armed forces and national police, plus inaugurate a newly elected President if there is one. The importance of this holiday in Peru is second only to Christmas.
In anticipation of the national premiere of WTTW’s new special and website, Weekend in Havana with Geoffrey Baer, we thought we would provide a quick overview of Cuba’s mouthwatering cuisine, which goes perfectly with a generous side of salsa music, a refreshing cocktail, and (of course) a good cigar.
“Any month whose name contains the letters A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate.”
— Sandra Boynton
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
— Peanuts creator Charles Schulz
“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”
— Katharine Hepburn
Today, July 7, is International Chocolate Day, an occasion (all right…an excuse!) for lots of chocolate-fueled celebrations around the world! Dark, milk, bittersweet, combined with other entities such as nuts, toffee, caramel, fruits, nougats, peanut butter, mint; in baked goods, beverages, spreads, ice cream; fillings, coatings, infusions…so many options, too little time!
You have surely heard the phrase “as American as apple pie.” Well, that’s a misnomer, as it turns out that this quintessentially American dessert really originated in Great Britain. Hamburgers and hot dogs? Germany – or to be more specific, Hamburg and Frankfurt, respectively. Mac 'n' Cheese? Italy (or France). French fries? Not France at all, but Belgium.
Beginning with the first sighting of the crescent moon this past Saturday evening, Muslims all over the world celebrated the end of the holy month of Ramadan and commence the month of Shawwal in this Islamic year of 1438 by embarking on the three-day Eid al-Fitr, or “Festival of Breaking of the Fast.” After a month of forgoing all food and drink each day between the early morning meal (Sahoor) and the evening repast (Iftar), the elaborate feast that is central to this important religious observance is a welcome and happy event that signifies “the mercy of God.” (In addition to sharing a delicious meal of halal foods, Muslims are encouraged to “forgive and forget” any differences they may have had with others during the previous year.)
Chef, TV personality, and author Anthony Bourdain has traveled all over the world, sampling with gusto the cuisine wherever he goes. When asked by The Guardian to choose “the final meal of his dreams,” Bourdain didn’t hesitate: “A sushi blowout,” he replied, with lots of “rare and expensive sakes.” After that, he continued, “he could die satisfied, confident that ‘no one on Earth had eaten better than [him].’” His sushi restaurant of choice? Tokyo’s Sukiyabashi Jiro – a three Michelin-starred “underground” eatery in Tokyo run by 91-year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many the world’s greatest sushi chef and the subject of the acclaimed 2011 PBS documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
Russia, in terms of sheer area, is the largest country in the world — it stretches across 11 time zones and borders 14 countries (many of which were formerly part of the Soviet Union). Each year on June 12, its citizens observe Russia Day, a celebration that in scope and feel is similar to American Independence Day, Canada Day, King Day in the Netherlands, and so forth. Russia Day is characterized by fireworks, parades, flag-waving and marching bands, entertainment and special events, and the bestowing of State Awards on prominent humanitarians, scientists, literary figures, and others. What foods might be served at such a celebration, and what do Russians enjoy on an everyday basis?