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The History of the Tomato & How it Crept Into Italian Culture

August 2, 2015 by  

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tomato When you think of Italian food, what comes to mind? Caprese salad? Lasagna? Margherita pizza? With very few exceptions, it’s likely that the cuisine of the boot immediately makes you think of the tomato — an odd juxtaposition between the modern and historic reality of the cuisine. After all, for centuries, the tomato was associated with its taxonomical group, Solanaceae, also known as the deadly nightshade family, and assumed to be poison. Top photo credit: Tomato image via Shutterstock: Shebeko. So how did a fruit that made most people wary become one of the most well known ingredients in Italian cuisine, not to mention others throughout Europe? To answer, we have to reach into the past. tomato Tomato Drawing Image via Shutterstock: Olga Lobareva

The History Of The Tomato: An American Food

While today, we commonly associate the tomato with Italy, the fruit did not originate in Europe, but rather in South America. The first tomatoes were brought to Europe from what is today Peru by Spanish conquistadors, where it was being called tomatl, an Aztec word that is a very clear influence for the word tomato.

European Beginnings

tomato

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Hitting the Coors Tour, Local Breweries and Beautiful Views in Golden Colorado

August 2, 2015 by  

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Recently, Chris and I decided to make the short drive out to Golden, Colorado. First on that list had to be a Coors Brewery Tour. These tours are free, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a fun driver like ours who takes you for a quick loop around Golden and gives you a bit of historical info about the area before heading over the factory. My friend Lisa and I had wanted to take the tour on an earlier trip, but the line was over an hour to wait. A shuttle bus picks you up from the (free) parking lot and drives you over to the factory, which is humongous. The tour is unguided, and you just pick up a headset and press corresponding numbers to display cases as you walk through yourself. I think I probably would have paid more attention had the tour actually been guided, but as it was, the tour was free and it comes with three free beers per person at the end, so really it’s worth doing if you’re trying to kill some time in Golden. (Or if you happen to love Coors beer, of course.) 02_CoorsLine_View Everywhere you look in Golden…

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10 Top Vegetarian Inns and B&B’s Across America

August 1, 2015 by  

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Do you want to enjoy a vacation with culinary conscious? Epicure & Culture has collected a variety of accommodations worldwide that cater to vegetarians and customize their menus to guests with other dietary restrictions. In addition to caring for their guests, many of these Bed & Breakfasts use sustainable, locally grown and organic produce, including ingredients grown on-site. Some even offer educational cooking and gardening classes so you can bring the farm to your table back home. Furthermore, all of the locations include opportunities to supplement healthy eating with outdoor activities. Stanford Inn Ravens Sea Palm Strudel Sea Palm Strudel at Stanford Inn Ravens Restaurant. Photo courtesy of Stanford Inn.

1. Stanford Inn by the Sea

Mendocino Coast, California For a healthy, relaxing and educational getaway, try the Stanford Inn by the Sea on California’s Mendocino Coast. Driving to the property you’ll pass hillsides lush with organic vegetables, flower gardens and orchards farmed using bio-intensive methods. These gardens produce ingredients for the inn’s Raven Restaurant, which serves numerous vegan options. Think grilled portobellos topped with tangy orange-chipotle BBQ sauce, shiitake ravioli with caramelized onion  sauce and biological tacos stuffed with fresh veggies and a lime crème…

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Eating and Dancing Ukranian Style in New York’s East Village

July 31, 2015 by  

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It took me all of 2 seconds looking at the menu to decide I wanted cheese pierogies and cherry and cheese blintzes (cheese and potatoes? da, pozhaluysta!)  Now, I don’t have much experience to compare this to, as Ukraine cuisine is not something I regularly dabble in.  But–it was delicious, quick, well priced, and both plates were licked clean.  I’d totally recommend checking them out for a little tastebud vacation to Eastern Europe…the best borscht and kasha varnishkes in NYC await! Note, they also host weekly dance lessons in the restaurant’s backroom–how’s that for a fun night out?! unnamed-7 unnamed-11 unnamed-8 unnamed-6 Are you a fan of Ukrainian food?  Share your go-to dish/restaurant below!


Experience Michelada Farm-To-Bar in Nicaragua

July 31, 2015 by  

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Michelada Volcán Concepción ©Gretchen Healey The Michelada is a savory cocktail from Mexico and is a refreshing and delicious way to beat the heat in Latin America. I was introduced to the Michelada a few years ago in Guatemala and quickly fell in love with its light, crisp and spicy-cool flavors. It paired well with food, but was just as yummy on its own. Where had this drink been all my life? I’ve now sampled Micheladas in several destinations, but none stands out like the drink that Ben Slow crafted for me at a delicious spot called Cafe Campestre on Omatepe Island in Nicaragua. Unlike a lot of people pouring Micheladas for thirsty tourists, Ben doesn’t use a pre-made mix; instead, he takes the extra time to make one of the freshest cocktails you’ll ever taste. It fits right in with the menu of his organic farm-to-table restaurant. Moreover, one of the cocktail’s most important ingredients (tomatoes!) are sourced from his working 30 acre (12 hectare) farm just down the road. Like me, Ben discovered the Michelada as a bit of a happy accident. It was love at first taste. “This big ice cold glass…

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Morocco: Behind the Scenes of Berber Culture

July 30, 2015 by  

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tea The odor of raw meat wafted in the air. Next to me, freshly slaughtered chickens were laid out on a counter with their claws still intact. I immediately looked away from that unpleasant sight, even though I was fully aware of the possibility that one of those chickens might be in my tajine later on. Below, photo of Amizmiz Market. Photo courtesy of Daniela Frendo. Amizmiz market To my right, a man in a soiled djellaba (a loose, hooded robe) walked abreast of me through the crowd of shoppers. He was holding something that kept tickling the back of my knees. A gut feeling told me not to look down, but curiosity got the best of me. Amizmiz market Amizmiz Market. Photo courtesy of Daniela Frendo. The man’s fingers were fastened around two orange hooks holding together a bunch of black, puffed-up feathers. A gigantic turkey dangled upside down from the man’s grip, swaying back and forth. I stood rooted to the spot for a few seconds, then stepped aside to make way for a donkey cart. The fresh meat stalls take up only a…

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Peruvian Dance & Food — Getting Down & Creative in the Kitchen

July 30, 2015 by  

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I am a curious-cat when it comes to trying to figure out why things around the globe can be similar. Be it a dancing style or food. Personalities or songs. Cut green-apple surfaces and the face of an owl.  This has happened several times with me. When I first tasted Ethiopian cuisine, way back in 2003, I was in awe to realize how similar this was to Indian food-fare. And, why not? Since the 1400’s, traders have introduced some non-indigenous ingredients that have added to what we now know of as authentic Ethiopian cuisine. From Portugal came chile peppers, and from the Orient—ginger. India played a part in North African trade as well, introducing all the exotic spices that form the basis of the spiced butter called Berbere( a medium that is used for their culinary fare). Or the Flamenco. How similar is it with (yes, Kathak), but also conceptually with all our other Indian classical dances! While all other western dances have independent movement of the hands and the feet, I was very pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was for me to pick up the Flamenco(with my background of Bharatnatyam), because of the interdependence the hand movements had with the foot movements in…

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Tips for Brewing Your Own Beer: Let’s Talk Wild Yeasts & A Whole Lotta Patience

July 29, 2015 by  

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brewing Brewing beer is an act of patience and precision. Having gone through the process myself I realize just how many careless mistakes I could have made. That being said, I caution you to take this task seriously, and be prepared to invest some time to perfecting your craft. After all, the payoff is an exquisite elixir that can elevate not only your state of mind but your personal self worth. Fresh hops. Photo courtesy of Irene van der Meijs via ShutterstockWithout proper preparation and attention to detail, the outcome of your brew could easily be in jeopardy. Time and temperature are imperative to success; likewise the sanitation of all materials before and during the process is crucial. According to an article in Popular Mechanics:
“The primary foes of new brewers are wild yeasts and bacteria,” says Chris Cohen, founder and president of the San Francisco Home Brewers Guild. “You can do everything else perfectly during your brew day, but if your sanitation practices are poor, you’ll likely end up with a beer that’s been fermented by something other than brewer’s yeast. The result is typically a bad beer that can be sour, over-attenuated, and can


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