Cathy Erway is the author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove. She writes the blog Not Eating Out in New York and hosts the podcast Eat Your Words on Heritage Radio Network. She lives in Brooklyn.
Sweet potatoes are often colloquially referred to as "yams" - but they're not. Let's take a culinary world tour and unravel this mystery together, shall we? Bottom line: you might have to hunt down a true yam, but they sure are worth it!
Barley is an ancient grain, but its old school reputation doesn't keep it off the modern table. From food for livestock and fish, to a main ingredient in beer, to a sweetener and as a cereal grain for human consumption, barley's flexible nature and nutty flavor make it an essential food.
Celery is a ubiquitous ingredient in cooking, but tends to stay out of the spotlight. While you may recognize this fibrous snack from raw vegetable platters with dip, find out how celery has played many roles throughout history in cooking, medicine and even garnishing and starring in popular beverages.
Pears are often regarded as the "other" fruit, standing in the shadows of apples, but the fresh, floral pear is as easy to cultivate as an apple and just a versatile. Bite into a juicy pear, slice it up for your cheese plate, or cook it into a savory dish: the options with pears seem to be endless.
We may think of it as a refreshing accompaniment to a slice of pizza (which it is!), but beer is so much more. As an agricultural product, requiring considerable resources for its production, and as a sustenance, beer has a significant impact on our food system.
We may know that "pancake syrup" is the margarine of maple syrup: the cheap imitator, the industrial substitute. "Pure" syrup is as unadulterated a product as it gets, and is all-American, to boot. Its production is natural, but it requires many steps and much patience to produce, and it only happens once a year. Because maple syrup, you see, is not simply tree sap.
What exactly is seaweed? The name is blanket term that's attached to a vast group of sea vegetables. There are thousands of varieties and many can be farmed sustainably, even improving the environment as they grow.