My Goal with this Site

As a lifelong foodie, I am fortunate to have grown up in a family who valued good food, and a mother who was a first rate cook. We enjoyed ethnic cuisine as well as good old Midwestern basics, always an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and everything homemade from scratch. I lived just outside of Chicago, so good restaurants were everywhere, and my parents enjoyed eating out as well as great home cooked meals.

My goal with this blog is to introduce you, the reader, to my numerous articles which I have had published on the history of food, and to offer you some terrific resources to  purchase specialty foods and spices, as well as current and vintage cookbooks. 

I hope you enjoy reading my articles as much as I enjoy researching and writing them. I try to write at least 2 new articles on new subjects weekly, so there will always be fresh content on this site.  Bon Appetit!  

 

Feel free to contact me at:  Dale@thefoodieuniverse.com

No Fake Cheesecake

It's one of America's most popular desserts and for good reason. Richly decadent, smooth and creamy, goes well with a myriad of fruits or syrups, and can turn a ho hum meal into an event, putting smiles on the faces of everyone. There are thousands of recipes, styles, varieties, ingredients and cooking methods but just the mere word conjures up visions of culinary bliss that few people can resist. It has been around for centuries in some variation. but somehow Americans seem to claim it as their own and have taken it to a higher level. We are a dessert-loving nation and cheesecake joins the ranks of the best. Body 

The earliest known recorded recipe (around 160 BC) was for a type of cake to be consumed during religious celebrations in Greece, which contained goat cheese and in no way resembles our modern day version. Fast forward to 1390 when an English cookbook caused an early chef named Heston Blumenthal insist that cheesecake is an English invention, which it very well could be; but whichever country takes credit, no one like Americans has elevated it to its current art form.

When cream cheese was first developed in 1872, a New Yorker was looking for a way to recreate the soft, delicious cheese called Neufchâtel which he had eaten in England and France, and he came up with a method of making an "unripened cheese" that was heavier and creamier.Along with other dairymen, William Chester began mass-producing it under the name Philadelphia Cream Cheese and it marked the beginning of present day versions.

Basically, cheesecake comes in two different types: baked and unbaked, and both have their merits: ++New York-style cheesecake relies upon heavy or sour cream, is rich and has a dense, smooth consistency most likely to be featured at Jewish delicatessens and high-end restaurants; ++Chicago-style is a baked version which is firm on the outside with a softer texture on the inside; the crust used is most commonly made from shortbread or graham crackers, crushed and mixed with sugar and butter; frozen cheesecakes tend to be called Chicago-style (can you say Sara Lee?);

 

The foodie city of Chicago actually is home to the country's two largest cheesecake makers, Sara Lee and Eli's:

++Sara Lee cream cheese cake put this dessert on the map with their Original Cream Cheesecake. In 1949 a bakery owner named Charles Lubin pioneered the frozen-foods business when he invented a top-quality cream-cheese cake for sale in supermarkets and restaurants. He named the cheesecake after his daughter, Sara Lee. Lubin's product was such a success that only two years later, in 1951, he opened the Kitchens of Sara Lee and began to add other items to his bakery line. In the early 1950s the aluminum foil pan was introduced which allowed his products to be baked, quickly frozen, and sold in the same container;

++Eli's Cheesecake (1980) is also based in Chicago. Eli's Original Plain Cheesecake, which has been called "Chicago's most famous dessert" is made of cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a butter shortbread cookie crust; originally served exclusively at Ei's restaurant on the North Side; its popularity eventually resulted in Eli Shulman to begin producing and selling the cake nationally and it continues to gain more market share annually. Eli's has made cheesecakes for four American presidential inaugurations. In both 1993 and 1997, it made a 2,000 pounder for Bill Clinton's inauguration ceremonies as well as numerous celebrities' birthdays and special events, and is a popular dessert of Oprah (no surprise there); making its debut at the first Taste of Chicago in 1980, it has held a starring role at every one since.

Cheesecake Factory restaurants - opened in the LA area (1978) and now boasting over 200 locations nationwide; not known for their low calorie cuisine, they offer 35 different flavors of cheesecake, one more decadent than the other and are a living testimonial to the popularity of this dessert. Hundreds of countries have their own unique versions with varying ingredients and presentations, but America remains the king of the mountain and shows no signs of stopping its love affair. If eaten in moderation, they can be enjoyed all year; if eaten in great quantities, well, you may just keep your cardiologist in the latest model Mercedes. But grab a fork, a good cup of coffee and dig in. You only live once.

When Dove Bars Took Flight

When Dove Bars Took Flight

 

In 1956, a small candy and ice cream store began selling a rich ice cream bar and word spread quickly. Neighborhood children and adults alike would crowd into the small shop and buy a hand-dipped bar, savoring its rich creamy flavor and gladly pay a higher price. Leo Stefanos, a Greek immigrant who owned the shop, originally created the bar for his sons, who loved ice cream and chased after trucks when they heard the familiar jingling of bells announcing their presence on the street. Soon he began offering them to his customers, and they became a quiet sensation.

 

 

Although they cost a bit more than the standard Eskimo pie and Good Humor, people plopped down their money, long before premium ice cream made its debut. They were that good. Thirty years later, the young boys were grown up and began distributing the Dove Bars to grocers and drug store in the Chicago area, where they were embraced along with other premium brands of ice cream, whose time had come. No longer made in the back of the original store, production became big business, with eight employees hand-dipping on the production line round the clock, and by 1986 the family had gone from producing 500 a day to a staggering 72,000 bars a day and moved to a distribution plant in the suburbs of Chicago. Concerned about maintaining the quality, which had long been attributed to their father's candy-making skills, the brothers finally agreed to go national when the Mars Candy Company wisely scooped them up before anyone else could, and sales exploded, surprising even the Mars family.

 

Over the years, the Dove brand has expanded into more flavors of ice cream, chocolate coatings and chocolate candies, but the name Dove (not to be confused with the soap) will forever be the poster child for decadent rich ice cream and one of America's favorite go-to indulgences. The Mars Company was a natural for Dove Bars. Opened in 1911 by Franklin Mars, who had learned hand dipping chocolate skills from his mother, they began creating popular candy, starting with the Snickers bar in 1930, followed by Milky Way and Three Musketeers. Still a privately owned conglomerate by the Mars family, they have taken Dove bars to new heights without compromising quality. But like many beloved products that began locally, nothing will ever replace those early days when neighborhood kids could ride their bikes over to the Dove Candies shop and buy a Dove Bar

 

 A Chicago native, author Dale Phillip remembers hearing about Dove Bars long before she ever had her first one. They lived up to their reputation and she was an instant fan. Milk chocolate and vanilla ice cream tops her hit parade, but you can't argue with any of the variations.She invites you to view her many articles in the Food and Drink category, and her new foodie blog: http://www.thefoodieconnection.com Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Dale_Phillip/1169732

Licorice:  Plenty and Good

One of childhood's happy memories is sitting in a dark movie theater on Saturday afternoons. eating Good & Plenty candy, Black Crows, Chuckles and Dots. It didn't get much better. Plus the added bonus of grossing out your friends with your black tongue and gray teeth from chewing Black Jack gum.(when mom wasn't looking). Licorice topped our hit parade and wasn't it fun.

 

To read entire article, click on Page at top of page titled "Licorice"

 

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Do You Live In A Waffle House?
Waffles have been an American breakfast favorite for two centuries but in other countries, much longer (can you say Belgium?). Most of us think of frozen waffles dropped into the toaster and drowned in syrup, but they're so much more. Pull up a chair and grab a fork.
 
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Soda Jerks: Heroes Of The Past
Many boomers remember those wonderful soda fountains which populated almost every local drug store of their youth. Where (hopefully) a cute young man (wearing a dumb looking hat) made yummy concoctions and a middle aged woman with a pencil behind her ear asked you "what'll it be?" Sadly, that great part of Americana is all but lost, taking with it thick shakes and malts made with real ice cream, hot fudge sundaes, strawberry ice cream sodas, cherry colas and fizzy chocolate phosphates. They were magical places and could transform a bad day at school or a lonely evening just by climbing onto one of the high stools and twirling around as you watched your order created right in front of you, which was definitely part of the fun.
 
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Cookbooks Throughout History: Foodie Treasure Troves
Cookbooks have been around for centuries. In fact, crude handwritten scrolls of food ingredients have even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, which brings new meaning to the sentiment exclaiming, "I'm dying to get that recipe." It's little wonder they're more popular and plentiful than ever. Although early ones were scarce, a few French and Asian chefs recorded methods of preparing foods during the Dark Ages, and early Colonists in America put their prized dishes on paper in crude formats. But once printing presses became common, cookbooks began to pop up among the elites and many of those recipes still prevail today. Although a bit impractical for the average cook,they make for interesting reading. Let's check them out, even though most of us probably wouldn't want to prepare swan pie or sheep's brains with small onions, the entertainment value alone is worth the price.
 
To read entire article, click on the title
 
 

For these vintage cookbooks, click here:  https://amzn.to/2tNDpMW https://amzn.to/2tNDpMW

Eating Your Curds And Whey
As children we repeated beloved nursery rhymes by rote, frequently clueless as to their meanings. One of the most popular was Little Miss Muffet, who sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey. What on earth were curds and whey, much less a tuffet? Not wanting to appear foolish, we refrained from asking our teachers (who probably didn't know either) or our mothers (likewise). We kind of figured that a tuffet was a little stool, but the curds and whey stumped us. These days we know what whey is (a milk based product) from the popularity of whey protein powder, and sometimes deep-fried curds show up at state fairs (where they deep fry everything), but what exactly are they, and how are they produced? (We'll tackle tuffets later.)
 
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The Legend of Lime Jell-O
Boomers grew up with it, no buffet or ladies luncheon was complete without it, and hospitals still depend on it. Joke if you will, but the proverbial gelatin dessert has graced menus across the country for years, and any kitchen worth its salt housed several jello molds, the more elaborate the better. Cookbooks featured a variety of flavors and ingredients, from fruit cocktail to shredded vegetables, and every good hostess had her own special recipe to impress. At family restaurants, the dessert case featured glass dishes of cubed jello topped with whipped cream. Ir's part of our history. What's your favorite flavor?
 
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To view gelatin molds, click here: https://amzn.to/2JLtsVn
 
 
 

Will Write For Food

 

If you enjoy curling up with a good cookbook, savoring it for hours, what could be better than reading an interesting novel which centers around food? There are many gifted writers who are foodies as well, and they integrate their passion for food into mysteries and other types of entertaining books which make for great reading, even if you can't boil water. Some names you will recognize, others will be new, but get ready to curl up with a good novel and enjoy. It just doesn't get any better.

 

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To view Foodie Novelists, clickhere

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Designer Coffee: How Far We've Come
Boomers grew up on pale, tasteless, weak supermarket coffee which their mothers made in a percolator or a stove top vacuum pot.They poured milk in it, which diluted it even more, and that was about all anyone could expect. With the introduction of drip coffeemakers, beginning with the revolutionary Mr. Coffee, things started looking up. But who could have ever foreseen the craze to follow? Hard to imagine back then, but visionaries like Howard Schultz, creator of Starbuck's, knew the time had come, and he was there to help deliver Americans from the boring beverage and blast it into the stratosphere. We've become a coffee crazed country, and aren't we loving it.
 
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To see author's favorite coffee, click on link below:

 

For the author's favorite coffee:  This is the coffee Forbes called Best in America!

 

For really great coffeemakers, go here: https://amzn.to/2tYBEMV

 

Cookbooks Throughout History: Foodie Treasure Troves

by Dale Phillip

Cookbooks have been around for centuries. In fact, crude handwritten scrolls of food ingredients have even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, which brings new meaning to the sentiment exclaiming, "I'm dying to get that recipe." It's little wonder they're more popular and plentiful than ever. Although early ones were scarce, a few French and Asian chefs recorded methods of preparing foods during the Dark Ages, and early Colonists in America put their prized dishes on paper in crude formats. But once printing presses became common, cookbooks began to pop up among the elites and many of those recipes still prevail today. Although a bit impractical for the average cook,they make for interesting reading. Let's check them out, even though most of us probably wouldn't want to prepare swan pie or sheep's brains with small onions, the entertainment value alone is worth the price.

 

To read entire article, click on title

 

To view historical cookbooks, click here: https://amzn.to/2zkCn0d

Lobster - A Rags to Riches Story
Lobster, the Rolls Royce of shellfish, was once considered the "cockroach of the ocean." It seems unimaginable, especially when we open a menu at a nice restaurant and see those chilling words "market price." But in colonial times, for residents in Massachusetts and points north, it was considered rock bottom on the food chain, fit for peasants, servants or farm animals. Oh, to go back to those days when lobster was so plentiful it was sneered at. Well, this shellfish is doing the sneering now, commanding top dollar in grocery stores and restaurants. It is said that live lobsters scream when dropped into a kettle of boiling water, but the screaming more likely comes from the customer contemplating the price.
 
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For the best on line source for lobster click here:Live Maine Lobster tomorrow night!
Key Into Lime Pie
Ask three Floridians the origin of Key lime pie and you will get three different answers. But one fact remains static: it is the official pie of Florida, and they fiercely love their tart, delicious dessert like nowhere else. It's not just referred to as Key lime because of its birthplace, Key West, but because the authentic version is made with Key limes, which are indigenous to the Florida keys, and anything less simply doesn't qualify. So let's do a bit of digging and see what we come up with.
 
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Celebrity Chefs Don't Just Cook
Ron Popeil started it all hawking kitchen gadgets on late night TV (can you say Veg-o- Matic?) throwing in a set of Ginsu knives if you called "within the next 5 minutes." No question, he was a marketing genius, starting an entire industry which opened the door for celebrity endorsed products and infomercials, from golf clubs to energy drinks. But nothing compares to our obsession with celebrity chefs whom we want to emulate (or pretend to) as we shell out hundreds of dollars to purchase their lines of pots and pans, gadgetry, mixing bowls and latest spices. It's a multi-billion dollar industry that knows no limits. From George Foreman grills to Gordon Ramsay cutlery, you gotta have 'em. We are a gadget-crazed society, and if we only buy that set of special copper pans, we will absorb their skill by osmosis and turn out some amazing dishes. So let's check out the latest from our favorite celebrity chefs. What's in your pantry?
 
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Everyone Say Cheese!

by Dale Phillip

Truly one of life's great pleasures, who doesn't like cheese. Stack it on your burger, add it to a sandwich,eat it plain, mix it in casseroles and that all-time favorite, mac and cheese, there is a type for every taste bud, age and budget. Dating back thousands of years B.C. cheese was first created by populations who herded milk-producing animals. The art of cheese making was refined over the centuries until it became a staple of Western Europeans, from the poor to the royals and everyone in between. Whether you're an aficionado of fine gourmet cheeses, or an unapologetic fan of Velveeta, there's nothing quite like it. Pity the lactose intolerant who have to pass on cheese.

 

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Holy Guacamole

by Dale Phillip

We mash them, we slice them, we dice them, we puree them, we mix them into salads, and we press them for oil. This amazing nutritious fruit has so many uses, not the least of which is guacamole, it is taking center stage in some of America's and the world's most beloved dishes. Of course, in the U.S. its most popular use is a fresh delicious guacamole, with tortilla chips and salsa. Add a cool drink, and now you're talking. It's party time.

 

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Breakfast Of Champions: Cold Cereals

by Dale Phillip

Although hot cereals (porridge) had been around since the cavemen, early cold cereals were created for "health" reasons directed toward people who suffered from digestive problems. Currently with literally hundreds of cereals to choose from, they all basically originated with just two simple creations: the graham cracker and corn flakes. John Harvey Kellogg and C. W. Post were both entrepreneurs who started the industry at the beginning of the twentieth century, never in their wildest dreams imaging what they had stumbled upon. What's in your breakfast bowl?

 

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America's Favorite Foods: Some Things Never Change
While favorites vary from region to region, national surveys conclude that we clearly favor certain foods.There will always be predictable stats, but there are also a few categories which will surprise you. And of course our tastes change decade to decade as manufacturers get more creative, and trends come and go. But some things remain constant, so let's take a look at what we're eating these days. Unfortunately, there aren't any veggies in the Top Ten, but no surprise there, due in no small part to our preferences for fast foods and convenience. What's on your hit parade?
 
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Beyond Funnel Cakes: Newest Foods Coming To A State Fair Near You
A poster child for state fair foods, the funnel cake has become passe as vendors dream up new concoctions each year to deep fry and entice thousands of food seekers. Their theme remains, "If you fry it they will buy it." From Kool-Aid to bubble gum (would I make that up?) there is no end to offerings at state fairs, if you're game enough to try them. So if you want to break free from the humdrum corn dogs and fried pickles, here is what you can expect this year.
 
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Basking in Basque Cuisine

by Dale Phillip

 

Right out of a foodie's dream, there is a beautiful and unique European region where the weather is ideal, the scenery stunning and best of all, more Michelin-rated restaurants per capita than any other place on earth. Sound too good to be true? It's not, and you can visit there. It's called the Basque Region. Let's take a tour.

 

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Food Trucks: The Real Movable Feasts
Ever since the first chuck wagons rolled across the prairies feeding cowboys on cattle drives in the 1800s, the food truck has answered the call of hungry Americans. In crowded big cities, early push carts showed up at lunchtime to sell workers a meal, and trucks rolled into construction sites where laborers hurried over and lined up. These days, those humble beginnings have risen to new heights, selling everything from gyros to mac and cheese. We no longer have to travel for food, it comes to us. What a concept. Sadly for many Americans, our only knowledge of food trucks is what we see in movies, so let's check out what's on those menus and what we may be missing. Roll 'em.
 
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Thomas Jefferson: The Original Foodie
Thomas Jefferson and Julia Child would have gotten along famously. The former television chef is often given credit for introducing French cuisine to Americans, but it was actually Jefferson's French-trained chef who served up his favorite recipes from Paris more than two centuries ago. Invitations to state dinners and casual repasts at his Virginia estate were eagerly accepted, as lucky guests had the opportunity to sample new dishes, unique French discoveries and gallons of imported wines. A brilliant scholar, statesman, patriot, gardener, author and president, Jefferson may best be remembered for his culinary passion and love of fine wine. The third President of the United States was clearly the original foodie.
 
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Will the Real Colonel Sanders Please Stand Up?
So which came first, Colonel Sanders or fried chicken? Of course we all know the obvious answer to that one. Among America's most popular dishes, fried chicken has dominated picnics, diners, potlucks and fast food for decades, with no end in sight. The creator of fried chicken is lost in the annals of history, but the one we recognize sure knew what he was doing.

 

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Tapas: A Spanish Food Adventure
An enjoyable evening with family or friends, sharing tapas and sipping wine is a tradition in Spain and has been adapted in many restaurants across the U.S. It can be a great way of entertaining, a veritable mini-buffet, which lends itself to conversation and camaraderie over a leisurely meal. Rather than feeling stuffed after a buffet, sharing tapas dishes with other diners offers tasting many different foods and the opportunity to eat lighter. A pleasant evening by any standards, try tapas. It might surprise you.
 
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Celebrity Vineyards
Celebrities who own wineries is nothing new. Some get involved as an investment, others take on a partner and simply lend their names, and yet a small percentage embrace their new careers and take an active role in the growing and production of the grapes. Celebrity chefs understandably enjoy ownership or collaboration with vintners to accompany their cooking prowess and to serve in their own restaurants. From time to time, some of us may have fantasized about being part of this venture, relaxing on a veranda sipping a glass of the grape, as we gaze out over a peaceful scenic view of beautiful rolling hills, bursting with robust rows of juicy grapes. Let's see who has actually taken the plunge.
 
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The Whole Enchilada Rolled Into One
There are burritos, chimichangas, quesadillas, tamales and enchliadas. All different in taste and ingredients, these rolled up Mexican creations comprise what Americans can't get enough of. They may not all be exactly authentic but they have evolved over the years into classics, as our love affair with Mexican foods continues. Let's examine the whole enchilada and see which one is your favorite.
 
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Jewish Delicatessens: Not Your Local Sub Shop
Great Jewish delis are sadly disappearing from some cities, where many of the best deli food was served up on side streets and ethnic neighborhoods. Locals knew where they were and flocked to them, especially on weekends. Known for their enormous sandwiches, creamy coleslaw and egg creams, those diners lucky enough to have grown up with them still remember their menu by heart and that amazing feast for the eyes and the palette as orders were barked out behind the counter. If you grew up in most of America you can only dream of Sunday breakfast or Saturday lunch, but for millions of big city dwellers they are still a huge draw and a culinary delight. So what are those chow hounds noshing on behind closed doors?
 
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Stick a Cork in It
Wine makes the world go 'round, or so it seems. We have a never-ending choice of types, country origins and prices to please any palette. Much of the world has been imbibing for centuries, as a beverage in celebratory events and in religious ceremonies. Cooks have included it in their prize dishes, and countries export millions of bottles of their landmark varieties yearly. It seems the U.S. was late to the party, preferring ale and cocktails to our ancestors' wines, but in the last few decades we have become a sophisticated populace of wine drinkers, not the least of which is our own California bounty. Grapes have been cultivated for centuries, and the origins may surprise you.. So sit back, pour yourself a glass and read up on wine.
 
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For fine wine recommendations, click here:  The California Wine Club
 
 

 

Mac and Cheese: All Grown Up
A revolution has been going on. The mac and cheese revolution. Appearing on upscale restaurant menus, stuffed into hamburgers, teamed up with lobster, jazzed up with blue cheese, deep fried and taking on a life of its own. From a popular, economical boxed kids lunch, this comfort food has morphed into a new designer cuisine, and Americans can't get enough. From humble beginnings it has followed other popular foods to the highfalutin halls of haute cuisine. And it's all grown up.

 

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Gourmet Cooking: 'Some Assembly Required'
by
In the past two decades, with the advent of TV food channels and internet, gourmet cooking has emerged as a favorite entertainment and passion. We've always loved eating, but now we could acquire recipes online, watch our favorite food shows on TV, and those glorious meals were no longer shrouded in mystery. And the chefs. How we envy their well-stocked kitchens, we long to sit at their beautifully appointed dinner tables, and we vicariously savor every aromatic sip of those fine wines in crystal goblets, right along with them. Cooking competitions and bake-offs give us chills. But looming over the entire experience, casting a pall over those gourmet fantasies, is a crushing realization. If we ever hope to re-create comparable meals we must face the cold cruel truth: "some assembly required."
 
To read entire article, click on Page   at top of blog entitled Gourmet
 
For some great gourmet foods resources , click here:  For The Gourmet

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SPAM - Don't Delete It
SPAM® aficionados are a unique breed. They comprise a veritable cult and can become defensive with those who eschew this canned pork product. In the 1950s, homemakers used it for ham salad, a popular sandwich filling, and substituted it for bacon. It was tasty, economical and easy to store. Cooks could jazz it up with pineapple, make fried Spam sandwiches or serve it for breakfast. Hawaii holds it in high regard, and many of their restaurants and eateries feature it prominently. It has become the subject of parodies, comedians and TV skits. Joke if you will, but Spam still sells. More than ever.
 
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Famous Foods for Famous People
We eat them without a thought to their origin, they're so deeply entrenched in our cuisine. However, next time you dig into a Caesar salad, remember it wasn't Emperor Julius who created it. Popular dishes have been named after famous people or places throughout history, which doesn't seem to happen much anymore. Yes, we all know Toll House cookies, along with other timeless favorites, but perhaps this might become trendy again with our fascination and limitless thirst for celebrity. Some suggestions might include Kale Kardashian, Swift Yogurt (low-fat) or Bananas Bieber. Maybe even Brad Olive Pitts. That being said, let's identify some of those legendary dishes.
 
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Bad Food Matters
We can't all be gourmet cooks or diners. We love to watch the wizardry of TV chefs and fantasize about a dinner invitation. We aspire to make some changes in our kitchens and emulate our favorite cookbook authors--someday. We even buy hundreds of dollars' worth of gadgets and cookware. But in reality, most Americans prefer their foods fast, packaged or frozen (and inexpensive). We are a country of convenience foods, and there is no shortage to fill that need. Microwaves can produce a full meal in less than 15 minutes, and time is of the essence when you're hungry, tired and headachy from a long commute home. Who needs ovens? Latchkey children can forage in the cupboards and find a snack when mom isn't home, happily munching away in front of a video game (and you can bet it's not celery or carrots). Restaurants multiply faster than we can keep up, providing a variety of choices and prices. So let's shelve those celebrity chefs, forget the sham and pretense that we all dine on healthy, home cooked foods and admit it: bad food matters.
 
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Most Despised American Foods
We all have our favorites. And our least favorites. And then there are the foods we really just plain despise. The list may vary slightly, but no question about it, we are a country of strong opinions when it comes to food. It usually started in childhood, when some children were forced to eat certain foods they didn't like, others were punished for refusing to eat them, but for many of us, we formed our opinions early and have remained rigid. As we grew up, a maturing process changed our minds and palates as we acquired tastes for certain foods we found unacceptable as children. An unpleasant memory of mealtime with the family can certainly formulate a lifetime of rejecting certain foods, but for most, it's just a dislike of the flavor, texture or appearance, plain and simple. Let's see what comprises the list of top foods Americans love to hate.
 
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Nutty for Peanuts
Just opening a jar of peanut butter or a vacuum sealed can of cocktail peanuts is enough to send some people into euphoria. Our minds flood with memories, and taste buds start tingling. Whether or not elephants crave them is debatable, but Americans love them. One could say we are nutty for peanuts.
 
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 Farm Fresh Nuts
Out of Africa: Native Foods
The continent of Africa is a unique mixture of many different countries and cultures, each with their own cuisine and cooking methods. But one thing you can count on is the use of spices, both sweet and savory, often used together, which is all part of the adventure, surprising your taste buds and waking up your senses. Very different from Western foods, and what we think of as American, you're not likely to find any fast food restaurants serving up Tajine or Mhadjeb, but a foodie's repertoire can never be static. Let's be brave and consider some of these interesting and popular dishes from the northern countries of Africa.
 
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Chinese Food, American Style

For old timers, mention Chinese food and visions of chop suey, chow mein, fried rice and egg rolls come to mind, housed in soggy white take-out containers. Splash some soy sauce on everything and you've got memories of growing up, college and early working years. It has evolved and expanded its repertoire in the last decades, but many of its traditional dishes stand the test of time. Americans have upped the ante on one of their favorite cuisines and there's no end in sight. The containers may still look the same, but what's inside has matured into wonderful savory dishes to delight our palates and enjoy.

 

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It's All Greek To Me
One of the oldest cultures, known for scholars and farmers, herdsmen, fishermen and winemakers, Greece has a culinary tradition over 4,000 years old and is part of the history and the influence of surrounding cultures. Ancient Greek cuisine was known for its simplicity and founded on the "Mediterranean triad" of wheat, olive oil, and wine, with a strong emphasis on fresh fish, where meat (except for lamb) takes a backseat. First to use oregano and other savory spices for seasoning, thin phyllo pastry dough and an abundance of olives, they introduced neighbors Italy, France and Spain to staples like bread, olive oil, lentils and almonds. Run don't walk to the nearest authentic Greek restaurant and do some serious exploring. Opa!
 
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Know What I Mean, Jelly Bean?
Those colorful, flavorful sugary candies. They've been around for more than a century but were immortalized by President Reagan, who ate them by the handful. Usually a major component in Easter baskets and Halloween trick or treat bags, they capture the fancy of all ages, and most affectionados have their favorite flavor. How can something so small and simple be so popular? Let's find out.
 
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A Movable Feast: Cuban Foods
Very different from traditional Mexican cuisine, Cuban food is an interesting mix of African, Spanish and Caribbean influence. With its many immigrants from Cuba, southern Florida boasts hundreds of Cuban restaurants, not unlike the strong Mexican influence in Southern California and Arizona. Cuban dishes are not your basic tacos and enchiladas but a delightful mix of flavors which have evolved over decades and centuries. If you've never experienced Cuban food, you'll be in for a treat.
 
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Olives - Small in Size, Big in Nutrition
We love them in cocktails, salads and antipasto. We eat them right from the jar, sidle up to gourmet olive bars, slice them into ethnic dishes, crush them for tapenade spread. We savor them stuffed, whole, sliced, marinated, green and black. And if that wasn't enough, we buy them pressed into the granddaddy of all oils. the precious Extra Virgin olive oil. You don't have to be from a Mediterranean background to love the almighty olive. Enjoy them because they taste great, and reap the added health benefits of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Those highly-prized and wonderfully versatile olives. Stock up.
 
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Rolls Royce Foods
Just as there are Chevrolets and there are Rolls Royces, there is regular food, and then there is a whole other category, often referred to as premium, specialty, or just plain better. For top chefs and restaurants the choice is clear, for those on a budget the choice is also clear. Let's check out some of the best foods which are served up at state dinners in the White House and at elegant dinner parties for an elite group of diners whose pantries are stocked with these essentials.
 
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Thai One On
Their restaurants are popping up across the country like mushrooms after a summer rain. Thai cuisine. We just can't get enough of it. From their spicy soups to their rich curries, sticky rice to glass noodles and Pad Thai. We can't pronounce the names, that's for sure, we just know our favorites. So why is this cuisine so popular? Let's Thai one on.
 
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Every Day Is Taco Tuesday
Fish taco? What in the world is that? A far cry from the early taco to be sure, when one bite of the hard shell splattered the ingredients all over your plate (if you even had one) and across the table, like someone sneezed at the salad bar. They have happily evolved into a warm, soft corn tortilla filled with savory white fish, shredded cabbage, cheese, avocado slices, and a creamy dressing. If you live in the Southwest, every day is Taco Tuesday. Read on.
 
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Dairy Queen: King of Soft-Serve
One bite and we are transported back to our childhood, where long lines on a hot summer night made it that much sweeter once you placed your order. What's your favorite? Dipped cone, sundae, root beer float or their wildly popular Blizzard. Maybe you're a purist, opting for a cup of chocolate DQ, nothing on it. Just driving by that red sign makes us want a frozen treat. For teens it was a (sometimes) fun summer job. But whatever you choose, one spoonful still soothes the sting of a lousy day, takes the heat out of the evening and is just plain all-American delicious. Pulling into the parking lot makes children giggle, and adults feel younger. How far would you drive for a Dairy Queen?
 
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Sliders: We're Talking Serious Hamburgers Here
Unless you have been living on a mountain somewhere in Asia, you have heard of "sliders." You may not have ever eaten one, especially an authentic one, but you know what they are. Or do you really? Their fans are quite adamant on the subject and will passionately describe them with a wistful look in their eyes. Just don't call them hamburgers. They're sliders, and don't you forget it.
 
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How Corny Can You Get?
Corn is loved the world over. We pop it, we boil it, we grind it, we butter it, we flake it, we chowder it, we sweeten with it, we gnaw on it, we roast it, we caramel it, we make tacos with it. No wonder it's the second largest crop in the world and as American as the apple. No doubt about it, we are a corny country.
 
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All Choked Up
Americans love artichokes. We savor them in a variety of ways, from canned hearts to simply fresh boiled. Their unique taste and texture lends itself to many dishes and uses. If you have never tried them, you are missing one of the best vegetables available, so now's the time to head out to the nearest produce store or farmers market and get all choked up.
 
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How Sweet It Isn't
Americans consume more sugar than any other country in the world. Far more. Germany, the Netherlands, and Ireland clock in at a distant second, third and fourth. The top culprits are soft drinks, bottled juices and designer coffee blended beverages, closely followed by ketchup, salad dressings, breakfast cereals and candy. It seems we have become so addicted to our need for sweetness that even unsuspected foods are laced with the white stuff. There's no getting around it. We are the sugar nation of the world.
 
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Those French Quarter Specialties, Like Nowhere Else
New Orleans Cajun and Creole foods, served up at some of the oldest and best restaurants in the country, where many famous chefs got their start and still reign. Visions of crawfish, red beans and rice, Andouille sausage, gumbo, jambalaya, mountainous sandwiches and great coffee. Not to be forgotten are their landmark drinks like the Hurricane and Ramos Gin Fizz. So pull up a chair, tuck in a napkin and let's explore some of the best eats the French Quarter has to offer, pure native and pure delicious.
 
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Who Is Orange Julius?
He just may have started something. Early on, oranges were primarily used for juicing, but after Orange Julius came on the scene, our choices have exploded. We love them in frozen treats, candies, baking, jam, we eat them fresh, we drink orange soda pop, and savor them with poultry dishes. Their fragrant tree blossoms burst into one of our favorite fruits. Oranges. They're not apples.
 
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Just Peachy
One of summer's great pleasures is fresh, ripe, juicy fruit, and none rates higher than beautiful, flavorful peaches. Cobblers, pies, stewed, grilled, ice cream, jam, sliced with cream, liqueurs, we can't get enough. Sometimes life is just peachy.
 
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Apples - The Forbidden Fruit
They are legendary and have been around since the Garden of Eden. We bake them, we slice them, we coat them with caramel, we sauce them, we dry them, we juice them, we pop them into lunchboxes and give them to teachers, They are as American as you-know-what. Nobody tells you "a pear a day keeps the doctor away." And you didn't read that famous marksman William Tell shot a grapefruit off the head of his son. No siree, it was the apple.
 
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Salad Days
Far beyond the simple iceberg lettuce and bottled dressing of our youths, mercifully past the canned pear half resting on a limp lettuce leaf, we have become a salad-crazed nation. Most restaurants, including fast food shops, feature meal-sized salads with savory ingredients, from avocado to fried chicken strips, drenched in honey mustard or chipotle ranch dressing, driving up those calorie counts. Salad bars took the country by storm in the 1970s, and eager diners loaded up their plates with dozens of offerings. Anyway you slice it, we devour them with gusto and without guilt. After all, it's salad.
 
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Bowl of Cherries
Broadway legend Ethel Merman introduced a new song in 1931 entitled, "Life is just a bowl of cherries," but the fruit has been around quite a bit longer. We pick them, we make sauce, we plop them on ice cream treats, we drop them in cocktails, we make pie, we make jam, we eat them fresh, we jubilee them, we tart them, we garnish with them, we marvel at their fragrant blossoms. Cherries. They're at the top.
 
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Whatcha Eatin' Bubba?
Southerners are different. They speak a different language, they value different foods. For Americans who venture into a soul food or southern restaurant, the menu might sound strange, like wandering into a foreign country. For some it's an acquired taste, for others it's just too out there. But their food is pure American, pure Southern and pure delicious. Come on y'all, be adventurous.
 
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Colonial Foodies
We often think that early Americans ate a rather spartan diet. While that may have been true, as the settlers expanded their communities their choices expanded as well, and by the mid 1700s, they ate quite a variety of foods which we still consume today. Of course the early cuisine was influenced by English standards, along with newfound native foods, like corn, squash, wild fowl and venison. But as more and more immigrants crossed the ocean, they brought their native foods and plants with them, creating more choices. They certainly weren't dining like French royalty, but the colonists enjoyed their American cuisines and ate foods which may surprise you.
 
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Spill the Beans
So many beans, so little time. Navy, garbanzo, red kidney, lima, black, pinto, cannellini, soybeans, lentils. We dry them, we boil them, we grind them, we bake them, we toss them in salads, we make soup, we love them. So versatile, so filling and so good. Let's spill the beans on beans.
 
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French Specialties: "Don't Try This At Home"
French foods can be elegant, showy and delicious. And don't those celebrity chefs make them look easy. But for many Americans, who lean towards simpler fare, we may not be too savvy in the skills or rich ingredients of French cooks and cuisine. So when we have a taste for a cheese souffle or a chocolate croissant, it's best to head on over to a French bistro or bakery to get a quick fix. Let's examine some of the most popular and common foods in France.
 
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The First Celebrity Chefs
Celebrity chefs are nothing new. Before TV and internet, foodies heard about them, bought their cookbooks or traveled to their restaurants, and make no mistake, they basked in their fame as they served up original dishes. Some lucky ones cooked for famous people and royalty, where presumably their food budgets were unlimited; others had their own restaurants and could impress their diners with great flourish and fanfare. The names may not be familiar, but in their day they reigned.
 
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Designer Chocolates, Anyone?
As Americans entered the 70s, they searched to upgrade their food choices with premium ice cream, French wine and cheeses, imported water, coffee and designer chocolate. It almost seemed that a hefty price tag guaranteed success, and food companies sat up and took notice. We were willing to pay big for a better grade of food, and pay we did. It was the decade of European imports, even in music, and we couldn't get enough.
Chocolate: The Good, the Bad and the Bitter
Loved the world over, but poisonous to dogs, chocolate has been around since the Aztec Nation in the early fifteenth century. Americans alone consume over a half pound a month per person, and Western Europeans crave it more than we do. The Swiss, Brits and Germans eat about 2 pounds of chocolate a month. (Good news for dentists, bad news for diets.) There is no end to the variations of chocolate delights, so let's explore the delicious subject of our favorite confectionery.
 
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Strawberry Fields Forever
America's favorite berry, the strawberry 's versatility knows no limits. We jam them, we bake them, we cream them, we smoothie them, we dip them, we slice them, we shortcake them and we love them whole. They're a welcome symbol of summer. What's not to like?
 
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Hostess With The Mostest
In 1972, aging actress Ann Blyth hawked Hostess snack cakes on TV proclaiming "freshness never tasted so good." What else could be said? They were healthy? No one cared. They were addictive with their creme filling, and kids loved them. Twinkies, Cupcakes, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Fruit Pies and Sno Balls. Names forever etched in our memories. If mom wouldn't buy them we sneaked them at the corner convenience store, or if we were lucky, our school cafeteria or vending machines sold them. But there was no stopping us. Many grown-ups still feel that way.
 
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Yogurt - The First Health Food
Yogurt has always been the stuff of legends, with mystical powers attributing to longevity, strength and good health. What we consume in modern times is a spinoff of earlier yogurt but has basically been modified with sugars, fruits and additives to accommodate our taste buds. We like it plain, flavored, blended and fruit-on-the-bottom, low-fat, fat-free and Greek style, We relish it frozen, swirled on a cone or cup, as we flock to shops that feature multiple flavors daily, including dozens of sugary and nutty toppings and syrups. Over the past 30 years, it has diversified greatly and now appeals to mainstream palettes, without the sour taste of its original form. With hundreds of products to choose from, there's a yogurt for just about everyone.
 
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A Sense Of Good Humor
Baby Boomers remember the sight of those boxy white trucks, often parked at busy intersections or slowly driving down neighborhood streets, the tinkle of their bells making us weak in the knees. We ran inside, begging our mothers for some loose change to purchase our favorites, be it the chocolate malt bar, toasted almond, strawberry shortcake or chocolate eclair. Originally selling for 10 cents, nothing has ever quite compared. No wonder they call it Good Humor.
 
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Cookie Monsters
Call them cookies, biscotti, biscuits, springerle, galletas, koekje, or shortbread, every country has their favorites. But no place seems to love cookies more than the U.S. We have entire shops and online companies that sell nothing but, with dozens of flavors, shapes and prices, for every holiday, and every preference. We started early. What kid didn't delight in eating a box of animal crackers, biting off the heads of tigers and gorillas? Or sneaking some graham crackers when mom wasn't looking. We bake them, we dunk them, we crave them. Puppeteer Jim Henson had it nailed: we are Cookie Monsters.
 
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That All-American Chocolate Chip Cookie
Who among us can't confess to eating raw chocolate chip cookie dough? An American original and America's most popular cookie, they've come a long way since their creation in 1937. No other cookie or dessert, for that matter, has dominated the American food scene quite as grandly as the Toll House cookie. After all, what's not to like? Its humble beginnings have different versions, so let's set the record straight.
 
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Southern Desserts - Y'all Gotta Try 'Em
Americans love their desserts. That's undeniable. And it seems that no region takes more pride in their creations than Southern folk. Pies get top honors, but other regional favorites like peach cobbler, banana pudding and pecan pie sure don't take a backseat. You're bound to see them all lined up at church potlucks and family reunions. So If you're not familiar with the many delicious offerings south of the Mason-Dixon line, you'll want to try them all once you know what you're missing. So listen up, y'all.
 
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Those Fabulous, Decadent French Pastries
French Pastries. Just the name conjures up visions of creamy custards, flaky napoleons, light puffy meringues, gooey eclairs, buttery cakes and colorful fruit tarts. Leave it to the French to create such rich delights that drive our senses crazy and expand our waistlines. Centuries ago, the royals of France employed the finest pastry chefs to whip up caloric creations for their dining pleasures and afternoon refreshments. Although simple cakes and sweets had been around for centuries, leave it to the French to raise the bar on pastries and desserts. What's your favorite?
 
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We All Scream for Ice Cream
Ice cream. The very name congers up visions of hot fudge sundaes, banana splits, ice cream cones, sorbets and Dove Bars. It's no wonder the popular white trucks of the 50's and 60's were called Good Humor. The origins of ice cream may surprise you, and its longevity even more. Today's total frozen dairy production in the United States is more than 1.6 billion gallons annually. That's a lot of screaming.
 
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That Takes The (Wedding) Cake
The wedding cake. Unique and central to wedding ceremonies throughout history, so intrinsic and artistic they have earned their own TV shows and decorating contests. They come in all sizes and shapes, all themes, often eschewing the traditional white frosting in favor of chocolate, pastel or even gilded with gold, multi-tiered, unusual fillings, flavors, and just plain bizarre. Some celebrity cakes are spectacular, others surprisingly modest, with everything in between. The Royals pull out all the stops, as do many rock stars. They embody the phrase "too pretty to eat" and have evolved into an art form unto themselves, reaching into the stratosphere of pricing, in some cases costing far more than the bride's gown. All-in-all, weddings take the cake.
 
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Barbecue Wars
To many Americans, the word "barbecue" simply means a backyard cookout of hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks or chicken. Potato salad, sweet corn and coleslaw might round out the menu, with bottled red sauce on the side. For a bit more sophistication, a few racks of ribs. Oh boy, not in some places. If you want to start an argument, just mention barbecue to a Southerner. Or a Texan. Or a Midwesterner. Then get ready, because these folks take their BBQ seriously, and there's only one way--their way.
 
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Sandwich Nation
Ham and cheese, any way you slice it, tops the list. BLTs and peanut butter rule at home. Sub shops are where we're most likely to go, with delis and sandwich chains second. Do it yourself, made fresh or prepackaged, they're not U.S.originals but we eat them like crazy, with choices galore. No doubt about it, we are a sandwich nation.
 
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Tomatoes - From Poison to Pizza
We know tomatoes to be a staple of Italian cuisine, but it was the Aztecs and other South American cultures who had been eating them as far back as 700 A.D. Surprisingly, the popular vegetable (actually classified as a fruit) did not arrive in Western Europe, specifically Italy, until mid-sixteenth century. Europeans viewed them as poisonous, and when they took up residency in America around 1824, it was because of Thomas Jefferson's vegetable garden. So how did this wildly popular vegetable become one of the most beloved ingredients in so many cuisines the world over? It's a long story.
 
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