Yes, today is Valentine's Day. No, I will not be writing about love, romance, love-y and romantic things to cook, or anything like that ( if that's the mood you're in).
More often than not, Valentine's Day is a time to eat familiar, expected food (either at restaurants that can't mess around with challenging their guests, or at home where we want to cook something that we're not going to mess up). Today, I'd rather talk about unfamiliar food.
We ran an article on Heated recently that I found pretty thought-provoking (the piece is below, and is definitely worth the five minutes it takes to read). It's by Whitney Pipkin, and it begins with the premise that an increasing lack of crop diversity is threatening the health of our food system. "By some estimate," she writes, "the United States already has lost 90 percent of the fruit and vegetable varieties that would have been available in the early 1900s." She goes on to make the case that in order to improve the health and resilience of our food system, we (people who cook and/or eat) should be eating more foods that are unrecognizable to us.
There are organizations and chefs working in interesting and important ways to make this happen. One of the initiatives that they've undertaken is to create a list of 25 foods grown around the world that are under-appreciated, under-utilized, highly sustainable, and ripe for rediscovery. This got me thinking a lot about all the things I eat (and all the things I don't) and about the significant pleasure of "discovering" new ingredients.
The point is that if we open ourselves up to (or start actively seeking out) unfamiliar foods, there are both personal and planetary benefits to be had. In that spirit, a recipe: One of the ingredients on that list of 25 is teff, a tiny grain (the tiniest, in fact) that is a staple crop of Ethiopia. Teff flour is what's used to make injera, the beautifully spongy and sour bread that is a mainstay of Ethiopian cuisine
It's a phenomenal dish that hardly anybody makes at home, probably because it takes 24 hours for the batter to ferment. But it couldn't be easier. You mix the flour with water, walk away for a day, then come back and cook it in a skillet like giant pancakes. Check out the recipe below; it's such a worthwhile weekend project.
Oh, and happy Valentine's Day!
Crop Trust thinks chefs can get us to eat unrecognizable produce and save the food system in the process.
In Ethiopian cuisine, this spongy, sour bread is used to pick up and sop up all sorts of fragrant, saucy stews. The main ingredient is teff flour, which is ground from a tiny ancient grain (and just so happens to be gluten-free). It’s mixed with water and fermented overnight (or longer) to produce a distinctly tangy batter that you cook in a skillet much like a pancake.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.