Darrin's books have been featured in a wide media continuum, from The American Conservative to Jezebel, the sex, fashion, and gossip website for women. He has been interviewed by NPR, Bloomberg News, The Globe and Mail, and television, magazines, and newspapers throughout the United States and Canada
For more information on Darrin's speaking schedule and biography, please visit his Facebook page or his website: darrinnordahl.com.
Wild turkeys, though not native to NorCal,
have easily naturalized, and now rule the streets
and sidewalks of many suburban communitiesAnother year, another honey-hued turkey gracing the dining room table surrounded by family and sounds of football. Thanksgiving is here again.
But is our annual tradition really in honor of that Harvest Festival in 1621? Not as much as you might think. For one, turkey was not the center of awe during that three-day gathering. The guests'
Such a pity Americans only sample fresh cranberries at Thanksgiving. Sure, you might drink cranberry juice year round (though it is heavily cut with apple and grape juice), or add a few sweetened, dried cranberries to your granola. But cranberries harvested for the sole purpose of eating fresh account for less than 5% of the cranberry harvest.
Yes, cranberries are tart. Quite tart. Like palate-puckering tart. But with the addition of any sweetener, be it cane sugar, brown sugar, map
Brazil nuts can teach us invaluable lessons in extracting economic value from the Amazon rainforests while working to ensure those forests remain pristine.
Let me explain.
Brazil nuts are difficult to cultivate, so all the nuts you see in your grocery store have been harvested from the wild. Ordinarily, such a practice can destroy the very ecosystem that produces the things you love. But not necessarily so with Brazil nuts.
Feijoa (fay-HO-uh), also known as pineapple guava, is a fun little green ellipsoid about the size of a small chicken egg, but with tropical flavors and aromas redolent of its cousin the guava. While guava is intensely aromatic and quite sweet, pineapple guava has a softer aroma, but a sharper flavor. Feijoas have a decidedly tart note, tasting like lemon zest, and finishing with some bitterness. Unlike guavas, however, pineapple guava have very small and quite edible seeds, making these (tw
Citrus caviar. That is what finger lime is commonly described as. Slice one of these gherkin look-alikes in half crosswise and gently squeeze, and you will see what I mean. Tiny lime juice filled beads, clear in color or sometimes blushed with pink, will come oozing out, like roe out of a sturgeon's...well, you get the idea.
Even if you aren't particularly fond of fish roe, you just might delight in citrus caviar. Squeeze these little spheres into your mouth and bite down. Bright bu
Swiss chard is really just chard, because it has absolutely no relation to Switzerland. Swiss chard is a subspecies of the beet, and native to the Mediterranean (it is known in Nice, France as the 'Queen of Vegetables'). Some believe the French added 'Swiss' to 'chard' because of some confusion with the cardoon, a relative of the artichoke. Others say it was a Swiss botanist who discovered the leafy vegetable, and it was named in honor of h
Looking like a shriveled, bumpy, dessicated 'ordinary' lime, kaffir lime is an intense piece of citrus. A native of Indochina, kaffir lime—like many varieties of citrus—is fast becoming a popular garden plant here in California. That is probably because: 1) citrus is a handsome, low-maintenance shrub that grows quite well in the mild climes of California; and 2) Thai food in the Golden State is highly revered.
Like galangal, kaffir lime is indispensable for authentic Thai cuisine. Bot
Think of galangal (or galanga root) as a sort of Thai ginger, with a Thai kickboxing kind of kick. THWOCK!
Seriously, galangal is potent stuff. It is a rhizome, like ginger, and even has a similar beige, knobbly exterior. But it is more robust than ginger, and a bit moister as well. Galangal to me tastes like ginger spiked with lemongrass and kaffir lime (or, if you're not familiar with those flavors, think Lemon Pledge and concentra
“The Jerusalem Artichoke is a sunflower, unrelated to the French artichoke, and has no connection with Jerusalem. Otherwise, it is well named.” —Euell Gibbons
A few years ago, sunchokes were more commonly known as Jerusalem artichokes. But their name is a bit confounding, as the late Euell Gibbons comically points out. Italian immigrants to the U.S. referred to the plant as girasole, Italian for sunflower. Over time, girasole may have been Anglicized to Jerusalem. But nobody is quite
AWL-mund, AW-mund or AM-end? Doesn't matter. They all taste the same.*
Though there is considerable debate on the "correct" pronunciation of almond. Growing up, I heard conflicting stories. One is that the almond tree is pronounced AM-end, but that the nuts were AWL-munds. So if you had an orchard of almonds, you grew AM-end trees for their AWL-munds.
I have always doubted this. If I'm not mistaken, the pronunciation of almond simply varies upon regi
Rapini. Broccoli rabe. Broccoletti. Regardless of name, this vegetable is becoming quite popular in the States. A mainstay of Southern Italian cooking, rapini is now gaining favor in American- and Asian-inspired dishes.
Rapini is becoming popular precisely because it looks like broccoli's little sister. People may have never heard of rapini (or broccoli rabe or broccoletti) but once they see it looks quite similar to something they are quite familiar with, it doesn't appea
Two green, giant, feathery pom poms arrived in my brother-in-law's CSA box this week. "I don't know what to do with these. Do you want 'em?"
"Well, fennel is a spice. And an herb. And a vegetable. You really can do anything with fennel, because it so versatile. Use the bulb like you might onions. Sprinkle the delicate, dill-like leaves onto pizza, pasta or add to soups. Use the seeds to enhance the flavor of ground pork or Italian sausage."
Five varieties of dates. The center
are the popular—and prized—
soft, sweet MedjoolGot a sweet tooth? I mean a serious, Nothing-is-too-sweet-for me! kind of sweet tooth? If so, then dates just may be your new dessert companion.
Dates are often regarded as the sweetest fruit on Earth. Some varieties are reported to have a sugar content of almost 80%! Dates are the original, au natural "sticky-sweet." Gooey, sugary, "These-may-be-too-sweet-even-for-my-s
Leeks are related to onions and garlic. So it is no surprise that leeks taste like a blend of their two allium cousins. More accurately, leeks have a mild, sweet onion flavor with hints of sweet garlic.
Though related to onion and garlic, leeks are not root vegetables. What we eat is a cylinder of tightly bundled leaf sheaths. The most tender and tasty part of the leek is the white or green-blushed base of the leaves. (The lower portion of leeks are white because farmers "blanc
I'll never forget my first, fresh-out-of-the-shell pecan (which Southerners will tell you is properly pronounced PEE-can, and not puh-KAHN). I was in Chapel Hill, at their much lauded farmers market, and there was a vendor selling nothing but pecan cakes, pies, and other baked goods. "Best pecan pie you've ever tasted," he exclaimed. But before he had you sample his pecan pie, he made you first try a freshly shelled nut, straight from his pecan orchard.
Tropical bliss. That is the aroma I get from guavas. A few of these golf ball-sized, pale citron fruits in a bowl can perfume an entire room with the intoxicating aromas of paradise. (Cue the steel drums.)
The term "guava" is readily used for 100 tropical species of trees and shrubs. But the fruit that is commonly eaten out of hand, or juiced to make guava nectar, is the apple guava, or common guava.
Native to the Caribbean and Mexico south to the tropic of Ca
Dainty, adorable chervil"Chervil is so cute, it is adorable! You can very carefully make tiny brushes of them and put them around the plate. Not only does it taste good, but it says to the people eating the dish that you are taking care of them."
That is how David Waltuck, chef and proprietor of Tribeca's once venerable (but now shuttered) Chanterelle restaurant describes this delicate, feathery herb. And he's right. Chervil is adorable, because it is so dainty. Which
"Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!" That's right, that vegetative fur sprouting from terracotta sheep, turtles, bunnies, or even President Obama's scalp is actually food...and a dang healthy one at that. Chia seed is enjoying a renaissance, popping up in natural food stores throughout America, now that we know it is packed with good nutrition.
Chia was to the Aztecs as quinoa was to the Incas. It is an "ancient grain," as important as maize to those pre-Columbian peoples. Today, it
Nopales con tunas. Or prickly pear cactus pads
with prickly pear fruit"Dude. You're seriously not going to put that in your mouth, right?"
That was what an acquaintance said to me when I bumped into him at Fresh Market and he saw the large cactus paddles in my basket. Once home, my son spotted the green beaver tails on the counter, and shrieked, "Dad, we are NOT having cactus for dinner!" I grinned a sly grin, and said under my breath, "Oh yes we are s
'Baby' rocket leaves(Note: This post originally appeared on Election Day, 2012. Hence the Presidential references)
Here's an excerpt from the first chapter of my book Public Produce, which I find fitting for a Presidential election and for today's featured food:"Arugula became an unlikely—and politically controversial—metonym for fresh produce and the escalating cost of food in America during the 2008 presidential campaign. Then democratic front-runner Barack Obama, while stump
"Dinner's ready!"You know aloe. That's the stuff you rub on your sunburned skin. It soothes the skin, and helps it heal. Which is why you find aloe in all sorts of skin and beauty products, like shaving cream, shampoo, soap, cosmetics, hand lotion, and sunscreen.
But can you eat the stuff? Well, since my local market had these 3-foot long specimens in the produce aisle, right next to the cactus pads, I figured, "Why not? It must be edible!"
My haul of beautiful Bosc pearsThere are about 3,000 pear varieties grown worldwide. Of these, only ten are commonly found for commercial sale: Bartlett, Red Bartlett, Red Anjou, Green Anjou, Comice, Bosc, Forelle, Seckel, Concorde, and Starkrimson. Each of these varieties belong to the species known as the European pear, or common pear.
Late October / Early November is prime pear season. This is when you will likely find all 10 of those pear varieties ripe and simultaneously a
QUESTION: How many yams do you see in this picture?
ANSWER: None. "Huh?!?" you exclaim. "What about those two orange sweet potatoes? Those are yams!"
Actually, those orange sweet potatoes are just that: orange sweet potatoes. Americans commonly—and wholly incorrectly—refer to orange sweet potatoes as yams. But these pink-skinned roots have no relation to true yams, nor do they bear any resemblance.
Fresh turmeric root (top), peeled (middle), and powderedOne of the greatest benefits of consuming turmeric is for the phytochemical curcumin. Curcumin is being researched for its ability to stave off Alzheimer's disease. And it is also being prescribed by doctors to halt the growth of cancer cells. (It should be noted that research into the efficacy of curcumin on both Alzheimer's and cancer is on-going). Curcumin is believed to be an anticancer, antiarthritic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant