Archives for the month of: December, 2015

I’m in the process of creating a syllabus for a 200-level undergraduate course on unpacking the transnational roots of core American food ingredients, and in looking for a good image for the syllabus have discovered a beautiful array of US flags made of food.

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Now, for the Fourth of July, I’ve always loved to make a patriotically-themed white sheet cake, taking my precious time to carefully slice the strawberries and arrange them with raspberries and blueberries in different constellations nestled in the homemade whipped cream.  I do not own an American flag, nor wear patriotic clothing, nor say the Pledge of Allegiance, yet I revel in consuming an edible American icon one day of the year.  And interestingly, I’ve never strayed from this recipe until now, having just found a smorgasbord of different flag-themed foods, from delicious sweets to savory main dishes, all arranged in crimson and ivory stripes.  As silly as these images might seem, they scratch at the surface of America’s diverse food culture and plethora of eater identities (the health nut, the fast food junkie, the sweet-tooth, and so on).  Yet a trip to the local big-brand grocery store might make you think how few red, white, and blue ingredients you have on your palette.  How quick we forget about  blanched northern beans, an eggplant’s thin indigo shell, and the glistening skeleton of a buttered lobster that add color to America’s dinner table.

Check out these cool dishes below and suggest any unique variations that your family shares (or other ridiculous ones that you might find!).

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Ketchup-covered hot dogs with a mustard-starred napkin

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Taco Salad Flag!  With hidden layers of lettuce, sour cream, and meat, covered in cheddar cheese and lined with cherry tomatoes and chips.

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Blueberries make another appearance nestled on top of three layers of jello waving proudly in the wind

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For the health-conscious Americans, you have cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and dark-leafed basil for a nice start to a Caprese salad.

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A gooey, straight from the can/bag flag cheesecake, with whole marshmallows forming billowing, puffy, stark white stripes (although, in my opinion, this would taste better if those marshmallows had been torched just a tiny bit).

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A classic strawberry and blueberry pie

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A flag pizza!  With sliced roasted tomatoes and blue potatoes underneath mozzarella dots and herbs

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For the healthy snacker we have flag kebabs: blueberries, strawberries, and bananas

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Last, but not least, a red, white, and blue layered cake – with enough food coloring to set your kidneys back a week.  Betty Crocker loves Americuh!

 

 

My heart is going to explode with happiness.  Food52 just released an infographic (by Jordan Sondler), map, and list with some of the world’s best cookie recipes.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about cookie recipes in preparation for holiday gifts, and now I’m overwhelmed with the urge to retire early and spend the rest of my life baking these iconic desserts.  Who needs a PhD?  But cookies – oh cookies.

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Even better, you can pin your own recipes to a Google Maps archive they’ve started here.

As an American Studies digital humanities/food studies scholar I love this project.  The project and subsequent digital discussion speak to the ways that national identity is wrapped up in food.  By baking and eating these cookies you can play food tourist at home and consume other national identities.

And all too often many Americans forget how typically American food traditions are not the norm elsewhere.  Sascha, a graduate student in Purdue’s American Studies program from Germany, was astounded when attending the first professional development workshop on campus where he tasted a gooey, buttery, M&M-speckled grocery store cookie.  “THEY’RE SO SOFT.  HAVE YOU TRIED THESE COOKIES?  COOKIES DO NOT TASTE LIKE THIS IN GERMANY.”  Is it the vegetable shortening Americans add?  Or the rainbow of chocolately morsels that makes their taste and texture so delicious?  I have no idea.  Needless to say, he’s requested cookies or candy at almost every event since.

Here’s a list of 46 recipes Food 52 posted on their site.  Where am I going to begin my baking???  Maybe #9 – because who doesn’t want to bake with Tequila!?

Here’s to celebrating a little differently this year.

  1. Nanaimo Bars (Vancouver, Canada)
  2. Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas Cookies (Pennsylvania, U.S.)
  3. Rainbow Cookies (New York, U.S.)
  4. Potato Chip Cookies (Saratoga Springs, U.S.)
  5. Benne Wafers (South Carolina, U.S.)
  6. Prune & Chocolate Rugelach (New York, U.S.)
  7. Black & White Cookies (New York, U.S.)
  8. Bizcochitos (New Mexico, U.S.)
  9. Mexican Wedding Cakes (Mexico)
  10. Brigadeiros (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  11. Alfajores (Argentina)
  12. Serinakaker (Norway)
  13. Swedish Rye Cookies (Sweden)
  14. Polish Apricot-Filled Cookies (Poland)
  15. Pfeffernuse (Germany)
  16. Austrian Vanilla Crescents (Vanillekipferl) (Austria)
  17. Vanilice (Serbia)
  18. Koulourakia (Greek Sesame Twist Cookies) (Greece)
  19. Pain d’Amande (France)
  20. Brandy Snaps (U.K.)
  21. Maltese Lemon Christmas Cookies (Malta)
  22. Spanish Butter Wafers (Spain)
  23. Tehina Shortbread (Israel)
  24. Samsa (Almond-Orange Triangles) (Northern Africa (Morocco, Tunisia & Algeria))
  25. Chin Chin (Nigeria)
  26. Nigerian Coconut Cookie Crisps (Nigeria)
  27. Halawa (Halva) Truffles (Egypt)
  28. Mbatata (Sweet Potato Cookies) (Malawi)
  29. Chocolate Pepper Cookies (South Africa)
  30. Basler Leckerli (Waldshut-Tiengen, Southern Germany)
  31. Elisenlebkuchen (Nuremberg, Germany)
  32. Buccellati (Sicilian Christmas Cookies) (Sicily, Italy)
  33. Ukrainian Curd Cheese Cookies (Ukraine)
  34. Rice Cookies with Cardamom and Rose Water (Kermanshah, Iran)
  35. Springerles (Germany)
  36. Dorie Greenspan’s Stained Glass Cookies (Paris, France)
  37. Struffoli (Italian Honey Ball Cookies) (Southern Italy)
  38. Alice Medrich’s Buckwheat Thumbprint Cookies with Cherry Preserves (Russia)
  39. Chickpea Flour (Besan) Laddu (India)
  40. Coconut Milk Fudge (India)
  41. Chinese Peanut Cookies (China)
  42. Matcha Butter Cookies (Japan)
  43. Polvorón (Philippines)
  44. Tangerine Pies “Kuey Tarts” (Singapore)
  45. Mint Slices (Australia)
  46. Mango Melting Moments (Australia)

 

Tell me how your global cookie baking experiences have gone this winter!