real food right now
Real Food Right Now and How to Cook it (#realfoodrightnow) is our weekly series on the ABCs and 123s of seasonal food.
Americans eat over four pounds of shrimp per person per year, but the environmental and ethical problems facing the shrimp industry are staggering. Learn all about the diminutive crustacean and find out the best ways to choose sustainably and ethically produced shrimp in this week's Real Food Right Now.
Summertime and gin go hand in hand. If you're the cocktail drinking type, nothing is better on a warm day in the sunshine than a gin and tonic on ice with a slice of lime. However, gin wasn't always so respectable. It was the favored drink of the poor, the down and out and of sailors - but it's come long way since then. And after it fell from favor in the last few decades, gin is getting a second look from craft distillers both here and abroad.
In the modern American diet, bug eating is generally confined to the dare - but things are rapidly changing. Crickets are acquiring a dedicated following as a sustainable, versatile - and some say delicious - food. Easy to raise and prepare, and with a pleasantly nutty flavor, crickets may be just the bug to ease us in to insect-eating.
Some are calling goat next big thing in the sustainable food world. These amazing animals produce lean meat that is tasty and good for you, and their milk is churned into butter and made into cheese. If you haven't tried goat yet, take a page from cultures across the world who know what's what: goat is delicious!
The tiny sesame seed carries big flavor and has made its way around the world to compliment cuisines far and wide. Bringing us sweets, like soft and creamy halva, to garnishing and even composing main dishes, sesame has entered our hearts and delighted our taste buds for centuries.
Blue crabs' bright blue claws and olive green shells turn bright orange when cooked, and are so satisfying on a soft-shelled crab sandwich or cracked open to reveal delicious meat inside. Add a balmy summer breeze and a cold beer to relieve the sting of the crab pot spices and you have summer memories in the making.
It's time to give onions the Real Food Right Now attention they deserve. These pungent bulbs are the true workhorses of the kitchen and are absolutely vital to most cuisines around the world. From fresh cut red onions to pickled garnishes, there's nothing quite like their ability to transform a mundane dish into something much more intriguing.
It's a cryin' shame that blackberries and raspberries get such prime billing when fresh mulberries are more common - and often free. Unlike money, they literally grow on trees! Whether you're a newbie or a longtime mulberry lover, it's a safe bet that there's a mulberry tree near you somewhere - go out and eat some before they go to the birds!
Chickpeas play an important role in many cultures of the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa, and recently they've come center stage in the west as the base of wildly popular hummus dips. If you haven't tried yet, cooking with chickpeas may seem daunting and exotic, but they're actually fun and easy to toss on a salad, fry up in fritters or roast into a crunchy snack.
Fresh apricots are delicate and sweet in season, and worlds apart from the popular leathery, dried apricots you find in stores all year. Bake these flavorful fruits into a sweat or savory dish, whip up some apricot jam or bite into a soft apricot at the farmers' market before their fleeting season passes us by.
There are a great number of species of prickly pear cactus, all of which are native to the Americas. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization explains that the cactus was probably first cultivated in Mesoamerica, and was of particular importance to the Aztec. Fossilized seeds and skins of the fruit over 7,000 years old have been found in Mexico!
When most Americans think of dill, pickles come to mind, but the herb was once prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans for its health benefits and magical properties. A staple in the cuisines of Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, North Africa and Russia, dill is actually an incredibly functional, versatile herb and one of the most nutrient dense, low-calorie foods you can eat.
It's amazing that the giant panda subsists on bamboo almost exclusively - bamboo is not very nutritious, at least not for us. When it comes to munching on this unique and fascinating grass (yes! grass!), it's all about texture and flavor, and knowing how to cook it.
Newsflash -- it's tea, not coffee, that is the world's most popular pick me up. In fact, after water, it's the most consumed beverage worldwide. And why wouldn't it be? Tea has deep cultural roots stretching back thousand years, much longer than coffee - and it was the world's first commodity, fueling fortunes and empires.
Sassafras is kind of a big deal. Without it the whole history of the US might have played out differently. Also, we wouldn't have root beer or filé gumbo. Depending on whom you ask, sassafras is either a folk remedy or a dangerous carcinogen. We'll leave you to decide: bad seed or beneficial buddy?
Vibrant (on the inside), juicy and perfectly scoop-able, the kiwi is just as delicious right off the vine as it is baked into a tart. But, did you know that this sweet fruit can be used to firm pie filling or tenderize meat? We didn't either! Read on to learn the history and uses of this fuzzy fruit.