Archive for February 2018

Valentine’s Day – Sweet and Ancient

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Valentine’s Day sweets are older and more remarkable than taste reveals, some originating thousands of years ago, and were associated with the less romantic notions of fertility and sex. One example is the quintessential heart-shaped candy box. The heart, which obviously looks nothing like an actual heart, likely evolved from the now extinct silphium plant used by fifth century Romans as a seasoning, medicine and birth control measure. Its pod was heart-shaped, lending itself to the symbolic heart of today. After appearing in everything from 14th and 15th century artwork to16th century playing cards, it found a place in Valentine’s…

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Valentine’s Day – Sweet and Sexy

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Valentine’s Day sweets are older and more remarkable than taste reveals, some originating thousands of years ago to celebrations of fertility and sex. One example is the quintessential heart-shaped candy box. The heart shape, which obviously looks nothing like an actual heart, likely evolved from the now extinct silphium plant used by fifth century Romans as a seasoning, medicine and birth control measure. Its pod was heart-shaped, lending itself to the symbolic heart of today. After appearing in everything from 14th and 15th century artwork to16th century playing cards, it found a place in Valentine’s Day sweets in 1861.  That’s…

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Sichuan Province and the Global Wonton

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When it comes to food research, I generally focus on sugars and sweets. But a recent lunch with a friend, Judy, convinced me to venture away. She and I met in Rockville, Maryland at the Sichuan Jin River restaurant, situated in an old style (think 1950s) shopping mall-ish place, between a vast parking lot and a busy street. The restaurant lacked dazzle and the menu was full of common, crowd-pleasing items such as wonton soup. Fortunately, Judy, who has mastered the art of eating, selected satisfyingly Sichuan-style dishes for both of us: roasted peanuts with tiny anchovies, emboldened by chili…

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