05 September 2006

Things to eat before you die

A few weeks ago I began reading about Melissa of The Traveler's Lunchbox's fascinating joint-project documenting foodbloggers' menus of must-eat foods. At that point about 20 people had joined this endeavour. Their lists were a bewitching and diverse collection indicative of individual experiences.

Melissa asks each participant to submit five foods they know, love and have really tasted. Along with each food, she’s asked for brief notes about why it’s on the list. Participants then invite five more foodbloggers to participate.

I am very lucky to receive two invitations—one fromthe wonderful
JenJen of I Love Milk and Cookies, and the other from the lovely Erin of Erin’s Kitchen.

I have to apologise to both of them for taking so long to reply. I though long and hard about what my recommendations would be. I debated a Canada-only list, five spices, five Indian foods and five foods I’ve loved from my travels. The list I settled on is a combination of all the above.

So, after all of that, here is my humble contribution to the list. I hope it’s not cheating, but I’ve included two beverages…

Cocoa beans, fresh from the pod
Okay…how could I not recommend something that has to do with chocolate?

A couple of years ago I returned to India to visit family and do some sight-seeing. One of my cousins grows cocoa and brought us a cocoa pod. The pod is a yellow, elongated ovoid—akin to an American football in shape. It has a thick gourd-like, furrowed rind that houses precious cocoa beans. The beans themselves are covered in a sourish, white mucilaginous substance…my mum loves it…I could do without it. But the beans are amazing give an amazing bitter, pure, euphoric chocolate hit. The sad, yet addictive, thing is that the second hit is never as strong as the first…but you (or at least I) keep on hoping…

Ice Wine
My first experience with ice wine was a few years ago when I was in Banff, Alberta. I was in one of those swanky resort hotels (they had Aveda toiletries…need I say more?) and in the gift shop was a package of Callebaut ice wine truffles. My word. They were good. Then I received a bottle of ice wine as a gift. My word. It was better. As best as I can figure, the grapes are harvested when they are frozen to the vines and the temperature dips to about -12˚C and then the highly concentrated and sweet juice is expressed for fermentation. The wine is very sweet and has a nice fruity taste. It’s a nice dessert wine, best served chilled.

Montréal bagels
For years I had no idea what people were going on about. A bagel’s a bagel right? Well… not quite. “Normal bagels” are big and bready beasts that don’t hold a candle to what my Quebecois brethren produce. Theirs are dense and sweet—I think the sweetness comes from boiling the doughy rings in honey- or sugar-water. I must admit that I like them lightly toasted and heavily buttered. I’ve never been to Montréal, but colleagues who go always bring back bags-o-bagels for us…but those visits are few and far between, so we make do with a local, Montréal-trained baker who supplies the gourmet shop with lots of doughy rings of nummyness.

Peppercorns, green and straight from the plant
Again, this is another memory from my trip to India. Peppercorn plants are viney plants supported by poles or trees. The plants can grow to about three or four metres in height. Peppercorns grow in grape-like bunches on pepper plants. When they are fresh, they are juicy and astringent, reminiscent of juniper. What you see are peppercorns drying on my auntie’s porch.

Real, organic milk
This might be odd, given the ubiquity of milk. But the thing is, at least around here, all the store-bough milk is pasteurised. There’s nothing inherently wrong with pasteurisation—it kills bugs and allows milk to keep for a long while. But pasteurisation changes the taste of milk…it makes it sweet. Add to this what dairy producers (I won’t call them farmers) feed their cows and you end up with a product that, well…satisfies producers and marketers. Yes, organic milk is becoming more available, but it still doesn’t really taste like milk received from a cow that spent her days wandering around a field, eating grass and bugs.

Okay...not so brief write-ups, but hey...

As for the next five to pass this project to…

Blue Plate of Table d’Hôte
Deetsa of Deetsa’s Dining Room
Kat of Our Adventures in Japan
Sara of I Like to Cook
Sarah Lou of One Whole Clove


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Anonymous said...

I love, love, love Ice Wine.

Blue Plate said...

thanks for the tag-my first. i'm happy to participate.

btw, as you are a fan of ice wines, might i suggest trying some from oregon if you have a chance. ponzi vineyards makes one i like. and winter's hill is another i just tasted at the bite of oregon food festival-it won an award there.

b p

Jen said...

Jasmine these are really great picks. I have only tried 1 out of your 5, which was the organic milk, which I agree tastes much better and is healthier!
I would love to taste a fresh cacao bean, now that would be a dream come true. And that ice wine sounds rather intriguing.
Maybe someday : )

Anonymous said...

Beautiful list.
Really like your milk comment...just isn't the same.
Wish I could try that cocoa bean! Great picture.
The peppercorn plants sound fun.

jasmine said...

Hello all

Peabody and BP - Ice wine is a relatively new thing for me--I usually don't go for sweet wines, but at first sip, I was hooked. Given our proximity to the Niagara Region, it's a pretty big thing over here.

JenJen and Tanna - I fear that real milk may be a fleeting, covert pleasure. Re: cocoa bean...
you can get nibs in the store, but they are roasted...it's *almost* as good ;)


Anonymous said...

Hi Jasmine,
Thanks for the tag. I've already posted my list.
(I hope my comments haven't gone 3 times...I seem to be having trouble putting comments in)
Take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jasmine

I've posted my five. Thanks again for the tag.

b p

Anonymous said...

Great list, Jasmine!

I'm especially intrigued by #5.