Cilantro, Cilantro!


Wanted to post an interesting article sent to me by my sister, all about why some people can't stand cilantro. Harold McGee writes: "Food partisanship doesn’t usually reach the same heights of animosity as the political variety, except in the case of the anti-cilantro party. The green parts of the plant that gives us coriander seeds seem to inspire a primal revulsion among an outspoken minority of eaters." My (other) sister is part of the anti-cilantro group, but strangely enough, both E and I are both strongly pro-cilantro. And I don't remember ever hating it, either.

McGee asks a neuroscientist, Jay Gottfried, where such hate could come from: "The senses of smell and taste evolved to evoke strong emotions, he explained, because they were critical to finding food and mates and avoiding poisons and predators. When we taste a food, the brain searches its memory to find a pattern from past experience that the flavor belongs to. Then it uses that pattern to create a perception of flavor, including an evaluation of its desirability." So his theory is that if you haven't had enough cilantro exposure, you may be bound to hate it forever. (Off-topic: By the way, how awesome is Dr. Gottfried's group website? They have actual photos on there of the group *gasp* socializing!)

Hmm, maybe this also applies to me and horseradish? Any flavors you absolutely can't stand? Give it a few more tastes and perhaps your brain won't label it as poison anymore...


Eat Your Dulce De Leche: Toffee Apple Tart


I'm prepping for a month full of exciting travels, which I will surely post some photos of (food and otherwise), but before heading out I wanted to add a couple of recipes where one can use the lovely homemade dulce de leche. The first is a toffee apple tart from Jamie Oliver, and this is where I actually picked up the instructions to make the dulce de leche from canned condensed milk.

Speaking of Jamie, anyone been watching his new show, Food Revolution, where he goes around American schools trying to change the usual fare from fast food to more healthy stuff? I haven't seen it yet, but have heard good things from various sources (ok, one source--the other told me he saw a crazy commercial featuring a yelling match between Jamie and some school cooks). I saw parts of the British version though, and I'm all for the idea of "healthifying" elementary school food. It reminded me of when a certain wise someone said, "There used to be one or two fat kids in the class. Now there's one or two skinny kids."

Anyway back to the topic at hand. I found the recipe online here on his website, and also realized that you could substitute other fruits, and that this is essentially what banoffee pie is, no? Must try that next. The flavors were excellent though, it is basically a caramel apple with a flaky shortbread crust. Look at the cool method Jamie recommends for making the crust! You first shape the dough into a roll and slice them into rounds, as if you are making cookies...

Then simply lay them out into your tart dish and press them together to form a continuous crust!

One thing I regret is that I used the apples I had on hand, which were Fuji apples. I should have realized that the crispness of the Fuji apple would not go well with a baked apple dessert, and indeed, the apples would not "uncrisp" even through several minutes of overbaking. What makes an apple good for baking? A baking or cooking apple has to be somewhere in the middle in terms of texture--it can't be too crisp like a Fuji, and it can't turn to mush during baking like a Red Delicious. But to be safe, I would look up the actual type of apple that is best for your particular recipe. For this recipe, perhaps a Golden Delicious or Granny Smith, but these guides should also help.