Friday, 29 February 2008

Taste Meme

I don't often get tagged for this sort of thing and often wouldn't know where to start if I was but Naomi over at Straight to bed cake free and dried tagged me for a taste meme which sounded fun. Of course she picked several in her five I would have considered and I might still duplicate her as it is meant to be my five favourite tastes not five no-one has done yet.. however the first couple were not on her list.

My top five Tastes

1)Red and Black Berries

Pretty much any of them but my top favourites have got to be red and black currants and raspberries, oh and wild strawberries. The Small likes them too though he tend to stick to raspberries and strawberries which is fine by me as I get all the currents. When we got the allotment end of last year he was asked what we should grow and he said ALL the fruit. Over the winter we have put in red, white and black currents, a gooseberry, a cross between gooseberry and blackcurrent, three types of raspberry and three apple trees.. we will of course plant strawberries as well a bit later. I'd expect to add to that later with things like Tayberries, Loganberries and so forth.

Why do I love them so much? I think it's the intensity of flavour and freshness. The feeling of summer and being alive and of course the excuse to eat cream :). I love blackberries too not so much for the flavour which varies a lot but for the memories of picking them as a kid.. something I hope to continue with Small in the coming years.

There is much talk of superfoods currently and most come from far away places, at least as far as us Brits are concerned, but actually when you look at the levels of the various substances in these foods which are meant to be good for you blackcurrants win hands down over cranberries and blueberries. There are a couple of basic articles on it here. and here

Currently something like 95% of the blackberries grown here go into Ribena, which could almost be considered one of our national drinks but still we should eat more of them too, sometimes it's the native foods that get forgotten and seen as ordinary.

I very rarely add sugar to berries as I like the tart ones as much as the sweet ones so unless I'm using them for cooking they tend to be eaten as is.. if I'm feeling good I might get as far as washing them but straight off the bush is even better!

One of the best ways to cook them is summer pubbing though I have yet to do a Gluten free version. I have very fond memories of having it every christmas at the family get together. My aunt always froze a mixture of fruits specifically to do a summer pudding for us all.

Finally on the subject I have to try British Cassis this year as I've heard wonderful things about it.

2) Pickles

As in vegetables pickled in Vinegar. These have been one of my favourite food as long as I remember, I was certainly eating them by the age of two according to Mum. The most common ones I have are pickled onions and beetroot (beets for those the other side of the pond).. I did say vegetables but pickled eggs are wonderful too. All of these are items you pickle in jars and leave to sit for weeks or months before eating. Some last ages, others need to be eaten within a specific time or they get too soggy, overly sharp or similar. I also like red cabbage, radish seed pods, gerkins.. well you name it really.

When I was young we always had cucumber pickled too, though in that case it was done only a few minutes before it was eaten. In fact I must try that again along with tomatoes in a peppery vinaigrette which I first had on the farm I lived on when I did a French exchange program as a kid.

Pickled onions and pickled eggs are a common extra when having traditional fish and chips from a chip shop too..

3) Sorrel

A wonderful herb or salad leaf. I think one of the reasons I like is it looks so mild but has such a huge taste. In the past we have grown two types which I hope to have again this year. The first is the sort with biggish leaves sort of sword shaped as in the picture. This one tastes very lemony and is wonderful to pep up a salad or as a green soup. That is the one most people seem to know. Once established in your garden it just keeps on forever.

The second in some ways I like even more though is less vigorous to grow and possibly less adaptable cooking wise. This is the Buckler leaf Sorrel or french sorrel. You can see both types one the Jekka Herbs site. It has a different shaped leaf, much more rounded. A Buckler is a form of small shield that just covers the hand and the forearm. The great thing about it is it tastes of sharp apples, something like a granny smith which is really unexpected.

4) Clotted Cream

I know Naomi had cream and I do love all forms of it but Clotted cream well that is a whole extra level. Unless you live in certain parts of the UK, mostly the west country, you may never have come across this delicacy.

We take cream seriously over here, as you can see from this wikipedia entry we have legal definitions for a whole bunch of different types and I know from doing Daring Baker recipes that we commonly have higher fat content cream than most places. For instance I use Double cream as standard which comes in at 48% fat content but clotted cream is even higher at 55%. It is also effectively cooked and the end result is almost solid with a distinctive crust on the top.. I grew up in Devon for a good chuck of my childhood and down there you get clotted cream in trays much like a baking tray.. In the midlands the best I can normally find is a small pot of it but that's better for my waist line!

Clotted cream is the cream you should have on a cream tea anything else is just not doing it properly !

And Finally
I had to think about this last one. I was tempted by chocolate but I couldn't think of much to add to Naomi's post on the subject. So instead I have picked bacon

5) Bacon.
There is something about bacon of all the meats that makes it hard to resist. It is the one meat vegetarians most commonly say they miss and it somehow makes you crave it in a way you wouldn't other similar items. I like to have bacon in the fridge or freezer at all times just in case. We have three types of bacon here streaky which is long and thin with lots of fat marbling, back which is in the picture and middle which is both types still attached together. We also have a range of bacon joints which is basically several different pork joints cured as bacon, gammon is a form of bacon joint but there are others.

As a treat at weekends we might have a full English breakfast which always includes plenty of bacon and eggs whatever else we have. It has such a wide variety of uses either in slices, as joints or cut up in sauces and so forth. When I was a kid we kept our own pigs and dad made bacon by curing the meat in salt. It was so salty that we had to soak it in several changes of water for at least a day for it to be possible to eat it. I do prefer traditionally cured bacon, preferably smoked though I'd rather a unsmoked traditional salt cure to a fast cured, smoked but even that has it's uses to add flavour to soups, sauces and so forth.

We even have smoky bacon crisps but I DON'T like those at all they don't taste anything like bacon to me. I don't like bacon bits either and most are made with wheat so I have a good excuse not to eat them.

Well there you go my five favourite tastes or at least five of my favourites as I'm sure I will think of others as soon as I post this !

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