Posts tagged “flavor”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Slightly silly analysis of the emergence of salted caramel as a mass-market flavor – "Like grief, American food trends go through five stages, said Kara Nielsen, a trend analyst at the Center for Culinary Development in San Francisco, where companies like Wendy's and Kraft go to develop new products. The center uses a five-part trend map to trace an ingredient's trajectory from chef's indulgence to supermarket staple."

The little touches that mean so much

We did an unplanned meal shopping thing at Safeway the other day – went in for that night’s meal, thinking “let’s get some fish, and maybe some vegetables.” We check out the fish and choose Dover Sole, relatively bland. We think about some spices and I go off to the spice aisle for something from Zatarains or whoever has that silhouetted dancing chef (anyone?), but then we see this pretty cool display right in front of our noses (there’s so much crap on display in these stores that I guess we tend to look past it when possible) – a variety of spices and marinades.

The fish-prepping man was incredibly nice, very genial, and asked lots of questions as he prepared our food (“how spicy do you like it?”, etc.). We could get the spices on the fish, or on the side. He pointed out another flavor they had but didn’t have room for in the display. We went from ingredients to meal with an enjoyable and custom bit of service (yeah, you can buy flavored/spiced fish and chicken, already done, but this was done at that moment, just for us).

Of course, there were no ingredients on these containers and if you’ve ever read the packages on marinades and flavoring spices you’ve probably noticed the ridiculous amount of salt they contain. We usually comparison shop at length until we find something that is not going to drown us in NaCl. Well, as you can imagine, the fish was spicy and really really really really salty. Each bit was like someone held your tongue with a pair of tongs and held a container of free-running salt above your head for a full minute.

Interestingly, I don’t blame Safeway for that. I take responsibility – caveat emptor – for purchasing a likely-to-be-salty product without finding out more. I compliment Safeway for providing a value-added experience (with the quality of the service – the human – really making it work). I guess we won’t do that next time, and will take the prep burden back on ourselves.

also: I thought the design of the marinade dispensers was kinda cool, allowing you to measure and presumably prevent overpouring.

Apple tasting notes

We decided to try a bunch of apples and make notes about what we found. There are easily 10 varieties of apples for sale even at the tiny Safeway grocery in Half Moon Bay, and yet we didn’t feel we knew very much about them, often eating apples without paying much attention, so it seemed like a fun experiment to be more explicit and attentive to the process.

Here are our thoughts:

no sour bite
non-descript flavor

don’t seem good for eating – maybe for cooking

similar to McIntosh?
slightly sour


not crisp, slightly mealy
not sour
gently sweet – almost dry

Pink Lady
sweet & sour
not bright

Obviously this was not very scientific – we didn’t know what terms we would use to describe them until we started. Interesting to see what kind of vocabulary is needed to describe and categorize a the more subtle aspects of a sensory experience. We didn’t develop any idea of shadings of an adjective, such as sour – how sour? Relative to another apple, or absolutely?
We also only dealt with one sample of each apple type, so perhaps we weren’t eating a variety at its peak.

Fun to try, regardless.


About Steve