Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-29-21 Zucchini

Z=Zucchini The Premeditated Zucchini Switcheroo

Well, we have reached the end of the A to Z Challenge and what a fun month it has been, learning about all kinds of foods from around the world and/or the history of said foods!

Today I guess I could have talked about Zoodles, or my delicious Zucchini chips, but in keeping with this month’s theme, I decided to tell this funny little story about a stolen zucchini in the city of Stamford, Connecticut. The “ahem” crime occurred at the Weed Memorial and Hollander Branch of one of the town’s libraries, which is housed in a 19th-century farmhouse.

Courtesy of Marissa Bucci for Atlas Obscura-Library produce in happier days

On the sunny outdoor patio where Youth Services Librarian Marissa Bucci had been tending to a raised garden for a year, an intruder struck and this disaster happened: as she went to water her single, promising zucchini, she noticed a much lighter zucchini-shaped object in it’s place. Some thief had taken her precious zucchini and replaced it with a cucumber!!

Via Twitter by Marissa Bucci for Atlas Obscura

The zucchini was days away from being large enough to pick, and now it had mysteriously disappeared! The branch supervisor had been worried that with no fence or cameras, someone could easily get onto the patio and steal what was growing there, yet had decided to take the risk. They never considered a crime like this would shake them to the marrow.

Luckily, they have kept their sense of humor about the whole caper, even though they have no leads on the “suspect” and realize more produce could get “replaced” like their sad little zucchini. If it were to happen again, they said with a grin, “We’d probably find it quite funny.”

What big hearts they have!

I do hope you have enjoyed this month-long challenge as much as I have, and you can look forward to me sharing more foods and or interesting places around the world courtesy of Gastro Obscura and Atlas Obscura! Stay tuned for more in the future!

#A to Z Challenge
Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-28-21 Yorkshire Parkin

Y=Yorkshire Parkin

Lavender and Lovage for Gastro Obscura

I really need to stop writing posts about sweets! I’m having enough trouble sticking to my diet as it is. Ah, but I digress. Let’s dive in, shall we?

No one knows the exact date that Yorkshire parkin became a key staple of England’s Guy Fawkes Night, however, the moist, dense, intensely-flavored bread is now as necessary to the November 5th holiday as a fabulous bonfire.

This cake-like bread gets it’s dark color for treacle (British for dark molasses) and ginger, yet the dense structure is due to flour and oats. First out of the oven, it might be crumbly, but left in a covered tin for days or weeks, the treacle preserves, making it moist, and sticky treat.

Cozy.Rosy for Gastro Obscura

Otherwise known as Bonfire Day, November 5th is the day when British gather to celebrate the thwarting of an attempt to assassinate King James the 1st and members of his Parliament. In addition to the bonfires, locals also burn effigies of Fawkes (who was found by authorities on Nov 5th,1605 guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder) and honor the day with an array of tasty treats, Yorkshire parkin topping the list.

The spiced loaves reach the perfect consistency if home cooks and bakeries light their ovens beginning around the end of October. It is then enjoyed with, of course, a cup of tea!

Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-27-21 Xuixo

X = Xuixo “shoo-shoo”

Fatieboomboom for Gastro Obscura

Locals in Girona, Spain enjoyed a decadent, custard-filled version of a cronut way before it first became a sensation. In this Catalonian city, bakers would fill the croissant like dough with crema catalana — Spanish style crème brûlée — deep fry and sugarcoat the pastry and the resulting breakfast treat is called a Xuixo or “shoo shoo.”

Aletxas for Gastro Obscura

As the town legend goes, an acrobat that performed for sick citizens named el Tarla had fallen in love with the pastry chef’s daughter. As the baker discovered their romance, he heard a sneeze which sounded something like “Shoo!” which led him straight to where the acrobat was hiding. Tarla promised to marry the baker’s daughter, bestowing upon him the special pastry recipe, which he named for the sneeze that gave him away.

Now, the annual practice in Girona is to make a small donation to help cancer patients, then march through the streets. The celebration is called Marxa del Xuixo, which is hosted by the local oncology department. As they march, they enjoy the xuixos provided by the local pastry association. These pastries-for-a-cause are one cream-filled, deep-fried, sugar-encrusted treat you can feel great about eating!

Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-26-21 Walnut Cakes

W=Walnut Cakes (with a surprise twist!)

In Korea, a yummy street food staple are Hodu Kwaja — aka walnut cakes — that are traditionally filled with sweetened red bean paste (the quintessential Asian pastry filling) but one bakery called Hodo Kwaja, (in Toronto’s Koreatown) the surprise twist is a decadent, creamy filling of mashed potatoes mixed with almonds or walnuts.

If visiting Toronto, you can see the modern process of making walnut cakes up close and personal through the front window of the bakery. There, they have placed the machine that fills the molds with batter, bean paste, and mashed potato mixture, then shapes and bakes everything into the perfectly browned, impossibly soft cakes which are said to be creamy, chewy, and luxurious!

Make sure you are there between 11:30-1:30 or later on between 4:30 and 5:30pm. What a treat!!

Writing, Writing Prompts

#A to Z Challenge 04-24-21 Vermouth

V=Vermouth “Doing a Vermouth”

While here in America, we are known to “do shots,” in Catalonia, Spain — they “Do a Vermouth.”

The history of vermouth in Spain is not as it’s history in Italy, in Catalonia, they drink their local style straight or on the rocks, or slightly cut with soda.

Their version of vermouth is a sweeter., herb-laden fortified wine, which they serve with a slice of citrus fruit — usually lemon or orange — and an anchovy-stuffed green olive. Both rose` and white vermouth are made in Catalonia, however, the most traditional vermouths are red.

The custom of “doing a vermouth” or fer un vermut is usually something the locals do around lunchtime on the weekends, but Sundays the custom is to drink it after church to wake up the appetite for lunch. They like to enjoy their vermouth with a small snack such as pickles, olives, or potato chips. In parts of Barcelona, specialist vermouth bars have become the place to be seen during the day.

They will know you are an outsider if you are caught ordering a vermouth after sundown, because that’s when locals have moved on to other drinks or meals of choice. Cheers!