Pumpkins are a symbol of the fall harvest. They invoke in us the feeling that summer is over and winter approaches. As the leaves on trees turn, pumpkins are harvested and piled up in attractive displays in the grocery stores, ready for us to pick, choose, and buy.
Chocolate pervades every part of our society, from candy bars to hot cocoa, from truffles to molten lava cakes. Most of us enjoy a good chocolate bar any day of the week and a steaming mug of cocoa can warm the soul on a cold winter’s evening. Chocolate is the food of lovers, given on Valentine’s Day to show devotion. Supposedly cacao contains some aphrodisiac qualities, but before you exchange Viagra for chocolate, remember that this has not been proven yet.
Over the next three months apples are in full bloom and while I can get them year round in my market, the fall season is the time they really shine. But what is an apple and where did it come from?
The Traveling Apple
Apples were once tart, bitter, and almost inedible. The tree can be traced back to Kazakhstan and the surrounding area. Apples belong to the Rose family (as well as peaches) and at one time there were over 10,000 varieties of apples. Today there are about 7,000 classified varieties. In the American market we see only a handful of these apples.
Mushrooms are a part of our human heritage, our collective consciousness. Ancient cultures used psilocybin, the “magic” mushroom, to open the “gates of heaven” and communicate with the gods. Fungi grows in every part of the world; in crevices, on trees, in cow poo. They’ve been used for over 3,000 years in Chinese medicine as a way to prevent cancer and heart disease and promote longevity.
in honor of National Rice Month, we’re re-posting this article from December 2010
Somewhere in Asia or India between 3,000 and 7,000 years ago people began to cultivate a wild grass known as rice. In several Asian languages the word for rice and food are the same, indicating the importance of this grain in the daily diet of Asian countries.
Lemons have been around for thousands of years. In all the articles I examined, I found that experts can’t agree on where they originated. Speculation says they come from Northern India, Burma, and/or southern China. Lemons are a cross breed between lime and citron. Citrus has long been domesticated and genetically altered. One of the more easily manipulated plants, lemons have been cross-bred with a variety of other citrus. No matter where they are from, this remains fact.
Jalapeno chilies are the backbone of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. They are the most recognizable chili in America. Usually 2-4 inches long and ½ to 1 inch in diameter, this amazing little pepper packs a powerful punch. They grow in a variety of soil, but prefer the warmer temperatures of southwestern United States and their native lands in Mexico.
We are back on the Spice Road and this time looking at star anise. What makes this licorice tasting spice so popular, even today?
Star anise is a spice that hails from southwestern China. It spread through Indo-China and Japan, ultimately finding its way into Europe and the rest of the world by the late 1500s. It is a medium-sized evergreen tree from the magnolia family. The fruit creates a star shape that can have up to eight points on it. The seeds are contained within this casing. The plant itself is highly decorative and can be grown for its beauty as well as its spice.