Just in case you didn’t get enough chocolate in the run up to Valentine’s Day this week, take comfort in knowing that National Chocolate and Mint Day is just around the corner, February 19. And while we’ve dedicated lots of time and attention to our love of all things chocolate, we haven’t spent nearly as much time focused on yummy, refreshing mint.
Let’s rectify that oversight right now.
There is a little piece in the latest issue of DSM Magazine about AllSpice Owner Rory Brown’s chili that was written by local food writer Wini Moranville for her “I Snagged the Recipe” column.
Moranville says, “From college until just a few years ago, I made the same chili recipe winter after winter. Then I tasted Rory Brown’s Smokin’ Coffee Chili and realized there was no going back.”
She especially loves (no suprise!) the spices in Rory’s chili recipe: “that blend of warming seasonings that thaw you through and through on a cold winter’s night.”
What is jerk? Jerk is a Spanish word that comes from the Peruvian word charqui: a word for dried strips of meat like what we call jerky. The word jerk started as a noun referring to the dish, and then became a verb, jerking, or poking holes in meat so the spices could permeate the food.
More broadly, jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica where meat is poked with tiny holes and coated (either dry-rubbed or wet marinated) with a fiery spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice.
Where’d jerk come from? Formerly enslaved Coromantee Africans in Jamaica are thought to be the originators of the jerk style sauce, developed as an adaptation, seasoning and slow cooking wild hogs over native allspice wood and using local herbs and spices, such as the fiery-hot Scotch Bonnet pepper.
Christmas is just around the corner — and on our way to that holiday later this week, we celebrate the Winter Solstice. The solstice marks the moment the sun shines at its most southern point, directly over the Tropic of Capricorn.
As soon as the solstice has passed, the days will start getting longer again and you can start looking forward to Spring. Celebrated by pagans for thousands of years, Winter Solstice is marked as the “sun’s rebirth” and new solar year.
Many of the traditions and rituals of rebirth, now associated with Christmas, had their roots in winter solstice celebrations – Yule logs, mistletoe, Yule songs (Christmas hymns and carols) and Christmas trees to name a few.
And like with many other familiar traditions and rituals, some of the most beloved symbols associated with the winter solstice, and the solstice-linked Germanic celebration of Yule, are customs centered around food.
Familiar shapes and colors. Many of the special celebratory foods of Yule are hollow circles: breakfast kringle pastry shaped like a wreath (the wreath itself a symbol for the cyclical, repeating “wheel” of the year).
In keeping with the “here comes the sun” theme of Yule, too, many feast foods are made in sunny colors, whether they are delicacies and drinks colored with strong winter spices, or casseroles, curries and paellas made bright with saffron, turmeric, and chilies.
Traditional solstice / Yule foods also feature the circle gone 3-D: dishes and desserts featuring sun-like spherical ingredients like apples, oranges, and even eggs.
Traditional foods of Yule include: cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or “lamb’s wool” (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples), apples, mulled wine, beans, and oranges.