Not long after we decided to make San Anselmo, California, our home base when we we're in the US, Rich and I were invited to a casual neighborhood cookout. The main course? Barbecued whole baby squid.
“I am so outclassed,” I whispered to Rich. “I am going to have to get all new recipes to run with this crowd!”
Every hostess strives to serve memorable meals, and lately, with so many Americans eating on the run, trendy new snack foods are standing in for sit-down dining. Food manufacturers (I can’t bring myself to think of them as chefs) are coming up with all sorts of outrageous combinations to appeal to lots of different market segments and make their products buzzworthy. Take this little treat, for instance.
Organic, low-fat, vitamin-rich, gluten-free, Asian seaweed with a gourmet touch of honey Dijon; it’s like a focus group in a bag.
Or how about this charmer?
Kale (the curly leafed kin of wild cabbage) plus chia (a seed rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) sounds like a healthy combination, but what about the flavor? I went on the manufacturer’s website and was directed to a nutritionist’s blog, which said, “I could taste the kale, but the salsa covered it up pretty well.” Well, thank heavens she didn’t actually have to taste this stuff! These chips come in five different flavors, and one poor fellow wrote on Amazon, “I thought that the Ranch flavoring might subdue that Kale taste and allow me to enjoy these. Unfortunately the Ranch flavor was not really very up-front and didn't mask that bitter taste of Kale that I dislike. These are a healthier option for people looking for a snack, though.”
Should we live in a world where you have to man up just to get through a snack? I think not.
If you’re looking for just the right beverage to wash down your kale or seaweed, you might – or might not – want to consider the new vegetable-flavored teas.
Marketed as a snack in themselves and “not quite a soup,” these veggie infusions have not exactly taken the culinary world by storm. “My brain and flavor-brain still hurt,” wrote one reviewer, adding “You could easily convince yourself it’s medicinal and restorative…in the right frame of mind, I could see them growing on the drinker with a little hard work.” Again, do I really want to work that hard for a snack?
Contemplating these new food options, I’m beginning to understand why some people think it’s healthier to stop eating altogether. When I first saw the notice below, which begins, “Get this. You can cure almost anything through fasting,” I dismissed the writer as just another California health nut. But lately I’ve been reconsidering. Fasting may not get rid of what ails you, but at least you’d be free of honey Dijon seaweed, kale chips, and vegetable tea snack foods. And that’s gotta help.
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I'm an American writer living in Seville, Spain and traveling the world with my husband, Rich. We've recently completed a five-month Mediterranean Comfort Food Tour, exploring the world's favorite cuisine to discover more about European culture — and our own.
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