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Foods that Taste of Themselves


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Food at its best should taste of itself.

A chicken should make one swoon with the lusty juice of chicken-ness.

Fruit should bury one with the intensity of sweet flavors and sugars.

Vegetables should bring the rich savor of earth and sunlight and rain to our palates in their varying personalities, so that a sense of rootedness to nature is sensed.

But how often does this happen in our world of everything-available-all-the-time-picked-processed-shipped-protected?

Not often.

I would like to make a list of the foods that hit this mark of taste of essence - but not include those things that one needs to take extreme measures to procure. They must be available to most people in most places as a rule of thumb, a "usual" sort of thing.

These essential foods must have enough taste to be eaten plain and unadorned as is as if in a Zen like simplicity. They must shine their essence through themselves without requiring fussing, heavy seasoning, complicated cooking methods or other trickery to coax taste.

Foods that can take the stage and dance a wondrous dance of flavor as soloists.

Are there any in your grocery store?

What are they?

I can think of one: Dole Gold Pineapples.

And another: Angus Beef from Kroger.

Another I've heard of which has not arrived in this area yet: Smart Chicken.

More, please, more. . .

More?

Karen

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If you're confining it literally to "my grocery store," that's a hard one. They are pretty good with certain fruits, particularly citrus, with the Temple Oranges of winter being the epitome. That's about it.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Probably in the usual mega-grocery store you can find some fruit or veg which is good at some time of the year. In the fall I've had some spectacular apples, but those are the rare ones from NY state which don't sit around too long.

I love crunching on a fresh, sweet carrot or radish (esp this time of the year when I feel like having something completely opposite all the rich foods which have been consumed since Thanksgiving).

And we have a turkey farm which supplies the local market with fresh turkey "london broil" or tenderloin, no injected broth. Good clean turkey flavor without all that saltiness.

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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RE: "These essential foods must have enough taste to be eaten plain and unadorned as is as if in a Zen like simplicity. They must shine their essence through themselves without requiring fussing, heavy seasoning, complicated cooking methods or other trickery to coax taste."

If I may add butter, salt and pepper, I nominate the humble spud. Baked, it's simplicity incarnate to prepare, and is avialable nearly anytime, anywhere.

SB (okay, and maybe a bit of freshly grated nutmeg too?) :rolleyes:

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Oh My !!!

Has anyone else just moved to an amazing food place ?

Arrived in Vancouver B.C. just 6 months ago. Perfect and amazing food EVERYWHERE !!!!

So, after that Vancouver moment, I'm nominating just-popped popcorn, tossed with a little unsalted butter and Maldon salt. I like to call that dinner (mostly if nobody is around to catch me.)

Also the stupendous bounty of local apples still available. Quite good w popcorn :biggrin:

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RE: "These essential foods must have enough taste to be eaten plain and unadorned as is as if in a Zen like simplicity. They must shine their essence through themselves without requiring fussing, heavy seasoning, complicated cooking methods or other trickery to coax taste."

If I may add butter, salt and pepper, I nominate the humble spud.  Baked,  it's simplicity incarnate to prepare, and is avialable nearly anytime, anywhere.

SB (okay, and maybe a bit of freshly grated nutmeg too?) :rolleyes:

I have to say, I have been extremely pleasantly startled by Yukon Gold potatoes I have gotten even at the local mega-supermarket. Lots and lots of flavor.

Supermarket cherry and grape tomatoes also seem to preserve a helluva lot more flavor than their notoriously styrofoamy big siblings. Maybe the growers just haven't had enough time to breed them into styrofoam yet? :rolleyes:

However, I've reluctantly just about given up on *all* supermarket apples. Even when I was in Seattle buying Washington State Red Delicious apples in season, they totally bummed me out--like eating vaguely apple-flavored cellulose. Sometimes I have some luck with supermarket Golden Delicious apples--a bit overly sweet, but at least the apple flavor is decidedly *there*. Most of the time. :sad:

It looks like I'll be shortly relocating to another part of San Diego, and once I've got my new place properly set up, I'll be signing up for a CSA share. That's probably the only way I'll have a reasonable chance of regularly acquiring produce that really tastes like something.

Edited by mizducky (log)
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However, I've reluctantly just about given up on *all* supermarket apples. Even when I was in Seattle buying Washington State Red Delicious apples in season, they totally bummed me out--like eating vaguely apple-flavored cellulose. Sometimes I have some luck with supermarket Golden Delicious apples--a bit overly sweet, but at least the apple flavor is decidedly *there*. Most of the time. :sad:

I live in Seattle, and you can definately never get good conventional apples. They just grow those crappy ones to sell everywhere and they send them to our own stores! I go to the co-op and buy nice local ones that actually are crunchy. Or even better, the farmer's market with the one farmer who sells all sorts of heirloom apples- black concords, matsuis, and other weird, crunchy, wonderful apples that i can never remember the name of.

good apples are the joy of existence. i could never live somewhere where you couldn't get a good apple.

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The Ugly Ripe Tomato.

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=352424&page=1

http://www.santasweets.com/ugly-ripe-faq.p...003062711084604

Publix carries these down here, and Albertson's just picked them up, I noticed.

Outstanding tomato flavor.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), you can only get these in Florida, for these tomatoes flunk the state's standards regarding grading of tomatoes for export out of the state, which place a high value on uniform shape.

No matter, at least not around Philadelphia. For in the peak season (late summer), we get equally ugly, equally ripe, maybe even more delicious New Jersey tomatoes. Unfortunately (not "perhaps fortunately"), Jersey growers are producing more tomatoes for the supermarket trade these days, and the supermarkets also place a premium on uniform shape and appearance. Those glorious misshapen tomatoes can only be found at the Reading Terminal Market, on 9th Street, and at some of the seasonal farmers' markets throughout the city. The great-looking ones the supermarkets carry, while better tasting than what you usually find in those places, still don't hold a candle to the ugly ones.

Though I have seen some "ugly ripe" tomatoes at my local Acme (Philadelphian for "Albertson's") from time to time. I don't think they're the Florida variety.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Though I have seen some "ugly ripe" tomatoes at my local Acme (Philadelphian for "Albertson's") from time to time.  I don't think they're the Florida variety.

Following myself up to note that the UglyRipe™ FAQ Web site Anne posted above has the explanation for what I saw at the Acme:

UglyRipes are grown in other states, including New Jersey and North Carolina, during the summer and the shipment of tomatoes from Florida is only regulated by the FTC during the winter. During that time you may see UglyRipes at your local grocer. We typically find that better tasting tomatoes are in higher demand during the winter months, though!

(emphasis added)

Of course, New Jersey's prime produce-growing regions are just beyond Philly's South Jersey 'burbs. Vineland--the Cumberland County seat and the heart of New Jersey's tomato-growing region--is about 30 minutes away from Center City via the NJ 55 freeway.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Though I have seen some "ugly ripe" tomatoes at my local Acme (Philadelphian for "Albertson's") from time to time.  I don't think they're the Florida variety.

Following myself up to note that the UglyRipe™ FAQ Web site Anne posted above has the explanation for what I saw at the Acme:

UglyRipes are grown in other states, including New Jersey and North Carolina, during the summer and the shipment of tomatoes from Florida is only regulated by the FTC during the winter. During that time you may see UglyRipes at your local grocer. We typically find that better tasting tomatoes are in higher demand during the winter months, though!

(emphasis added)

Of course, New Jersey's prime produce-growing regions are just beyond Philly's South Jersey 'burbs. Vineland--the Cumberland County seat and the heart of New Jersey's tomato-growing region--is about 30 minutes away from Center City via the NJ 55 freeway.

A real shame about the Florida Tomato Commission. I think it is silly, considering that the ugly ripes have a sticker on them that says "Ugly Ripe." They aren't supposed to be pretty, just tasty. I suppose that would explain why the Ugly Ripes are about the same as any other tomato in price this time of year, though. We pay a premium during the warmer months. Those little santa sweets are pretty good, too. But I prefer the Uglies.

Don't get me started on the Citrus Canker Eradication Program that was going strong down here for a while. The state would go onto your private property and chain saw your citrus tree down at the ground if canker was found within a football field's length of your home. They would leave the tree and stump for the homeowner's to dispose of, causing great distress to some of the elderly people in the community.

Oh well, I am running the AC today. It was 82 degrees and sunny today...

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Tomatoes, asparagus and corn in season, purchased from a local farm-stand. Great butter. My current favorite is Cabot's Farmstead which is only available at the creamery. Baby lamb chops. Bacon from Green Mountain Smokehouse in Windsor, Vermont. Sausages from R&J Butchers in St. Johnsbury, VT. Maine shrimp. Stella Artois on draft.

Jim

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  • 1 year later...

Asparagus!

I completely forgot about asparagus!

It's right about now that the tender young spears make their appearance in local markets, as asparagus is the first product of the Garden State to come into season each year.

And while it's not eaten raw, you can't get much simpler than steaming for just a few minutes to bring out its color and flavor.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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The beautiful, ripe, juicy strawberries that can be bought from the stand next to the fields in the California's Central Valley. I can eat a whole basket while standing over the sink.

No need for sugar, lemon, or liqeur. They just taste of strawberry.

Edited by BarbaraY (log)
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I love really good short-grain rice, of the Japanese varieties. It just smells and tastes delicious, and I love to eat it by itself. It tastes like what it should taste like.

Also, dried beans cooked simply. I have to try some from Rancho Gordo. But I love the bite into the skin, then the mushy squish inside, but with some stand-up texture left to it. And the bean flavor is excellent.

Venison, I've lately discovered - at least SE Michigan venison - is delicious and sweet. Or at least this one buck was.

Jennie

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Ambrosia apples. They're in the supermarket in the fall. The first time I bit into one I had a taste epiphany - THIS is what apples are supposed to taste like.

I had a similar moment with new potatoes that the vendor told me had been dug up just that morning. Quarted and lightly steamed, they needed no butter, just a whisper of salt and pepper.

June strawberries at the farmer's market- the little ones that are so fragrant you can smell them from 40 feet away, and you're lucky to get them home without smashing them to mush.

Oysters eat on the beach. In the half shell. No accompaniments necassary. In my mind it doesn't get much purer of taste than that.

Foods that taste of themselves are fickle and fleeting, a seasonal fling rather than a long term relationship. You have to bide your time, eschewing imposters, until it's again time to taste them as they should be.

Edited by dividend (log)

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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Where does one find ambrosia apples, dividend? Are they local to the Heart of America? I can't say I've encountered that variety up this way.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned peaches. A really good, fresh peach tastes more like itself than anything else I know. And it's so hard to find a good one anymore. The best I've had are from the farmstands in Yakima, Washington.

Someone mentioned Red Delicious apples, but those don't taste as good from the tree as many others. They're bred to ship.

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Where does one find ambrosia apples, dividend?  Are they local to the Heart of America?  I can't say I've encountered that variety up this way.

I find them at Wild Oats in the fall. I don't know anything about them, other than that they're sublime.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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