It comes from South and Central America. We eat it in dozens of different forms and use it in the manufacture of glue, materials, paper and, of course, alcohol. Today it is hard to imagine a cinema visit without popcorn or breakfast without cereal, yet the aura of Indian legends still floats around corn, for that’s what we’re talking about here.
Of all the cruciferous vegetables, a family containing 380 different species, this is the one which truly deserves its “royal” status. Not only because in France – as everybody knows – baby boys are found in cabbages, and baby girls in rose petals. Not only because it happens to be the most popular vegetable of all, but also because it is the healthiest. And if it were easier to digest and didn’t cause bloating and gas by fermenting in the stomach, we would say it was priceless.
There is nothing more pleasant than sitting on the sofa with a good book and a full bowl of toasted sunflower seeds within arm’s reach. As the hours slip past, the growing mountain of hard husks is the only thing that helps you keep track of time. Or what about in the summer – sitting on the balcony in the full glare of the sun, holding a sunflower and picking out the fresh seeds until they blacken your fingers…?
When we think about Mediterranean cuisine, the flavour of olive oil immediately comes to mind. The division between those who favour butter as opposed to olive oil mainly exists for cultural reasons. Basically, in those places where olives don’t grow people use another fat in the kitchen. The history of olive oil shows that it has been with us longer than one might expect.
Avocado is a really unusual plant. Which group does it belong to – the vegetables or the fruit? It’s not even clear how to use it. You can eat it spiced or sweetened. So maybe we can trust our taste buds to haul us out of this labyrinth of confusion? But this is not exactly a simple assignment either. For how does an avocado actually taste?
As far back as Ancient Rome, pepper was valued for its taste qualities. From the earliest times, faith has also been placed in its medicinal properties – even Hippocrates wrote about these. At one time, it was worth its weight in gold, yet later became the condiment of choice for the poor. These days, it’s difficult to imagine European cuisine without it.