Friday, May 28, 2010


Following up on foods as cultural ambassadors...

People might already associate New Zealand with kiwis, though they're probably thinking of the birds when they do so.* Yet when I think of kiwis, those bright green fleshy fruits, the first thing I think of is, Gosh darnit those things are a pain to peel! No matter how hard you try, you inevitably get some of that brown peachy fuzz (kiwi fuzz?) in your fruit somewhere. And, unless you're a master kiwi peeler, peeling kiwis generally results in a lot of wasted kiwi flesh clinging to the brown fuzzy skin. Word on the street is that the skin is edible, but I've tried before, and let me tell you, it might be edible, but it doesn't go down easy.

If you've never had the privilege of peeling a kiwi, imagine peeling an apple, where the skin has no natural proclivity for separating from the flesh (like, say, in citrus fruits), but where the flesh is soft and yielding (unless hard and unripe, in which case you probably don't want to bother to eat it at all), like a mango. Over the years, I've variously tried to slice the fruit into rounds, then unpeel each round (brown fuzz penetrates to green flesh; peeling still takes off more flesh than necessary); pare skin off flesh with a knife (brown fuzz penetrates to green flesh; hard to take off skin without taking off extra flesh); and, what is probably the most successful (though least adaptable to various serving purposes) method, cut the kiwi in half, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

I hardly think, whether technically accurate or not, synonymously associating one's country with an exotic and delicious yet pain-in-the-ass to peel fruit is appealing to anyone. Come to think of it, though, perhaps it is a rather apropos metaphor for New Zealand itself: exotic and beautiful, but, from most places in the world, a pain in the ass to get to.

Enter the kiwiberry, my package for which proclaimed it a "sweet tasting, healthy super snack that is ready to eat... just like a grape!"


And it's true. These little suckers are just like kiwis, sans fuzzy brown skin inconvenience. Rinse, pop in your mouth (or slice to get the full kiwi beauty effect), and you're good to go! Now, if only getting to New Zealand were so easy...


*Then again, maybe not. I'm inclined to believe that more people are familiar with the kiwi fruit rather than the kiwi bird, though, technically speaking, it's the bird that is the symbol for New Zealand, not the fruit.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

As American as Apple Pie


Around the time of my last post, my friend Amy came down from New York to visit, a trip that happened to coincide with my birthday. Instead of a birthday cake, however, she came with a Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie from the Little Pie Company.


People. PEOPLE. I cannot fully express how much I love this pie. I cannot tell you, nor can pictures really do justice to just how amazingly delicious this pie is.* The first time I tasted the gloriousness that is this pie, all I could think was, "Holy hell, this pie is GOOD." Science (and the shop's website) tells me that the amalgamation of crisp apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and maybe some nutmeg has something to do with all this, but all I ever think is, "Holy hell this pie is GOOD." I've had good apple pies before -- a now-retired apple pie from San Francisco bakery, Just Desserts is legendary in my family, and I used to be addicted to a cafeteria apple pie in high school that had a great French crumb topping -- but none of them have made me say, "Holy hell this pie is GOOD."


Lest you think this a matter of personal taste, Exhibit A: two additional friends also in town for the weekend, skeptical of my profused love for this pie, but willing to indulge me in the partaking of my birthday deliciousness. Sam requested a small slice, nonchalantly took a bite, and then said, "Wow... this is GOOD." Minutes later, both friends were going back for (larger) seconds.


Okay, I said I couldn't fully express how much I love this pie, but I'll try to be more specific beyond just telling you that it's GOOD. There's no mass of syrupy sweet pie goo drowning everything else. The thinly sliced apples (way preferable to big hunks IMHO) are still firm with a little bite, not mushy like some overripe apple that's been sitting on your counter for too long. I have no idea where the sour cream comes in, but if that's what makes this pie so amazing, then I'm not questioning it. I'm not one to generally like nuts in my baked goods either, but if the absence of walnuts changed this pie in any way, I would have none of it.


Which brings me back to my last post, and the "most unloved" foods. Note that neither apples nor pie appear on the list (nor sour cream nor walnuts for that matter). Clearly, then, if any country was looking for a specific food to be its cultural ambassador to the world this would be it. I think adopting this pie as THE pie as in, "As American as apple pie" could even do wonders for internal patriotism. As it is, I'm sometimes skeptical of being labeled, "American" and its attendant connotations, but if someone ever likened me to the Little Pie Company's Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie, I'd say, "Heck yes, with an oven and a fork at the ready!"

*Disregard the brick-like quality of the pie in these pictures; unfortunately the heated version wasn't quite as photogenic. That said, make no mistake: pictures or no pictures, this pie is delicious hot or cold.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Food diplomacists beware: The 10 Most Unloved Foods

A friend forwarded this to me the other day... perhaps something to keep in mind for governments trying to woo foreigners with their food: avoid these!*

The 10 Most Unloved Foods

*I, of course, happen to love almost half of the items on the list, maybe because I root for the underdog...