Our food world is very interesting. Besides providing nutrition to our bodies, food contributes colour to our lives and adds variety to our language. This is one world that knows no barriers. As our taste buds become more accustomed to tasting new food, we add more interesting dishes to our meals, and more words from across the world to our vocabulary.
1. A for Antipasto: The word has been given to us by the Italians, known for their love of good food. The word literally translates into ‘before the meal’. It is the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal.
The contents of antipasto vary from region to region. It generally includes olives, cured meats, pickled meats, mushrooms, anchovies, vegetables in oil or vinegar and most importantly, various types of cheese.
2. B for Baguette: A baguette is a long, thin, loaf of French bread. It has a crisp crust. The French word baguette means a wand as in magique baguette or magic wand. This bread today is associated with France and its various rich traditions. It is generally made of wheat flour, water, salt and yeast.
A traditional French breakfast is considered imperfect without slices of baguette spread with butter and jam, which are dunked in bowls of hot chocolate or coffee.
3. C for Chutney: This hardly needs any introduction in India or the entire southeast sub-continent, for that matter. It is a delightful paste that can be made of fruit, spices and/or herbs. Chutney can be sweet or spicy-sour. In days gone by, chutney used to be ground using a mortar and pestle. But thanks to the advances in science and technology, they have been replaced by powerful mixers and grinders.
Mint leaves are often used as a basic ingredient for one of the most popular chutneys called pudina chutney or hara chutney. It is served with a variety of snacks. Tamarind and dates are used to make saunth, a sweet-tasting chutney.
4. D for Dumplings: I am sure this doesn’t need much of an introduction either, as with passage of time and easy flow of information, dumplings have become one of the commonly found food items across the country.
Dumplings are cooked balls of dough. The balls are stuffed with a wide variety of ingredients such as potatoes, meats or green vegetables. They can be cooked by boiling, steaming, simmering, frying or baking. They can be sweet or savoury.
They offer a great deal of flexibility as far as their consumption is concerned. They can be eaten either by themselves or added to stews, soups and gravy. Though closely associated with the southeast Asian cuisine, variations of dumpling are eaten all across the world.
5. E for Edam: Edam is a semi-hard cheese that originated in the Netherlands. It is named after the town Edam that is located in North Holland. The unique thing about this cheese is that it ages well and doesn’t get spoilt. It only hardens with time. It is pale yellow in colour and hardly has any smell, unlike other cheeses. It has a salty and nutty taste.
It is often eaten along with fruit like peaches, melons, cherries and other traditional cheese fruit like pears and apples.
Because it is sold with a coat of red paraffin wax, it is closely associated with Christmas celebrations in Sweden.