The World of Food

Julia Maish

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Today, January 16, is International Hot and Spicy Food Day, an appealing prospect for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who are currently battling the bitter winter weather or a stuffy nose. Just the thought of spice conjures up warm and sunny locales, dishes that make us sweat, and tropical beverages that help us put out the fire on our tongues.

What gives spicy food its heat and why are some spicy foods hotter than others? Is spicy food good for you, or is it a health hazard? Or a little of both?

To answer the first question, most spicy foods contain a common element: the chili pepper, which is native to northeastern Mexico and has been in existence since at least 7,500 BC. One of the very first Europeans to encounter it was none other than Christopher Columbus (imagine his shock when he sampled one!), and it was he who gave the pepper its name, from the genus Piper, from whence also comes black pepper.

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Julia Maish

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Happy 2019! This year marks the 70th anniversary of an American culinary institution: The Pillsbury Bake-Off®, which has given housewives (and house-husbands, too) an opportunity to showcase their creativity in the kitchen since 1949, when company executives dreamed up the competition as a simple way to spur sales of their products.

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Julia Maish

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“Oh my, it’s fruitcake weather.”

– Truman Capote, A Christmas Memory

“There’s only one fruitcake in the world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

– Johnny Carson

“Nobody in the United States has ever bought a fruitcake for himself.”

– Calvin Trillin

There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground when it comes to the ubiquitous Yuletide fruitcake – people either love it beyond all reason or loathe it with the heat of a thousand fiery suns. How did this controversial dessert/”it’s-the-thought-that-counts” holiday gift/flying projectile become synonymous with Christmas, and how long has it been in existence?

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Julia Maish

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Now that Thanksgiving is very much in the rearview mirror, Christmas is looming large (in plenty of stores, holiday decorations and music have been competing for our attention since early fall), and the race is on to prepare for it.

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Julia Maish

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March to the beat of a different culinary drum? Here are a few delicious options you could serve instead.

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