One morning, on my way to work in Midtown Manhattan, a tourist asked me, “Do you know where the nearest subway is?” Thinking I was being a good samaritan, I directed him to the nearest sandwich shop and not the Metropolitan Transportation Authority trains. (My bad, I know.)
Two things, though. First, I hadn’t had my morning coffee, so my drowsy confusion is somewhat understandable. And second, Subway is in over 100 countries and opening their 38,000th (!) store in early November. So can you really blame me for thinking (in my early morning haze), “Hey, this tourist-gentleman, must be looking for a breakfast sandwich—because yeah, Subway serves those now!”
Nevertheless, congratulations to Subway! From a small sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut launched by a 17-year old with a $1000 loan, to one of the largest restaurant chains in the world. Subway has embraced and been embraced by different countries and cultures the world over.
So if you’ve never had a Subway sandwich in another country. Remember this, just because you’ve experienced the green and yellow logo in your own country, doesn’t mean you won’t be met by sandwich surprises like Halal subs in the Middle East or Paneer Tika sammies in India. After all, they serve approximately 2.6 billion sandwiches a year and have over 37 million possibilities. I’m not a big math person, but I’m guessing that means you could eat years of sandwiches without ever having the same one twice!
Everyone knows EVOO is healthy. The phytochemicals in olives, which protect you from disease, are vulnerable to heat; “extra- virgin” oils are processed with minimal heat, so nutrients are preserved. (Same goes for EVOO labeled “first cold-pressed.”)
But heat isn’t the only enemy of nutrients (and flavor). Time also takes a toll. “Buying extra-virgin is good, but making sure it’s fresh is even more important,” says Dan Flynn, head of the UC Davis Olive Center, a leading olive oil research facility. “The ‘best before’ date should be at least one year out to ensure that the oil is still tasty and rich in good-for-you compounds.”
From our September 2012: Italian Issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray
How can a dirt-dwelling collection of spores set you back more than your car payment? Here’s what makes truffle shavings cost up to $3,000 per pound
The divas of the food world, these oddly- shaped wild tubers grow only beneath certain trees—in superspecific weather and soil conditions— and can be harvested for just a few months in the fall. Unlike other kinds of produce, truffles can’t be grown in a greenhouse, and their flavor can’t be synthesized in even the most sophisticated lab.
THEY’RE UNDER GUARD
White truffle season in Piedmont, Italy, runs September to December. During this time, many a territorial trifulau (truffle hunter) hunts by cover of night, often with a Lagotto Romagnolo (aka the “Italian truffle dog”), protecting prime spots from rivals. Pigs, the traditional hunting animals, have a bad habit of eating their hauls.
After those dogs have picked up the scent trail, the human truffle hunters in Italy use zappini—long-bladed mini hoes—to coax the mushrooms from the dirt. Giving new meaning to the word “touchy,” these fungi can actually start to rot upon contact with homan skin.
Once a truffle leaves the ground, its flavor starts to erode. It is possible to freeze and jar them, but most aficionados aren’t crazy about the resulting compromises to flavor and aroma. They prefer paying more to have fresh finds shipped quickly.
From the September “Italian Issue” of Every Day with Rachael Ray
Fancy comfort food (artisanal jumbo pretzels for the win!) has been popping up on menus lately—and that’s no coincidence! Comfort food is just one of a bunch of interesting trends that are emerging in both food trucks and brick and mortar spots. Here are some of our other favorites:
- PORK is so hot right now—but really! Bacon is still (and always will be) a major player for foodies, but other pig delicacies, like the mouth-watering pulled pork sandwiches from the Maximus/Minimus truck in Seattle, are becoming just as sought after as their crispy cousin.
- HAND-PREPARED DISHES are also on the up, whether it be fresh-cut fries, made-to-order salads or the classic techniques of pickling and preserving. We like our food with a lot of hard work and love behind it.
- Locovores rejoice! LOCALLY SOURCED AND GROWN, farm-to-table food has become very appealing. And this isn’t just a trend for produce, but seafood, meat and more—people want to be more in tune with what they’re putting in their bellies.
- Score one for the more sensitive eaters: GLUTEN-FREE AND FOOD-ALLERGY CONSCIOUS FOOD are becoming way more popular and widely available. Chicago’s Vinci has gone so far as to offer an entire gluten-free menu. This has to be my favorite, hands down!
Have you noticed any other food and restaurant trends on the rise? What are some of your favorites?
—Morgan Gibson, Editorial Assistant
The people at Krispy Kreme never stop trying to make a good thing better. While I love the classic glazed donut, these determined bakers are capturing the spirit of summer—fairs, to be exact—in two limited-offer donut flavors: Caramel Apple Cake donuts and Cotton Candy Donut (pictured above).
According to QSR Magazine, the donuts will be available from August 20-September 30, 2012 at participating Krispy Kremes. The rich and decadent Caramel Apple Cake donut features a glazed apple cake donut topped with caramel icing. While the sweet and fluffy Cotton Candy Donut is the Original Glazed with blue cotton candy sugar.
—Judith Pena, Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief
Move over, Chipotle! Mediterranean cuisine is on the rise, and it’s not just your Greek diner serving up the spanakopita. Fast-casual restaurants are expanding their businesses to offer kebabs, falafel and other classic Grecian dishes to a growing number of hungry foodies across the U.S.
Restaurants such as Zoes Kitchen, Little Greek Restaurant and Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill are not only looking to open additional storefronts, they are also educating consumers about the flavors and history of Grecian cuisine. Many accommodate less adventurous customers by including American food on their menus.
Greek food has become more mainstream thanks to celebrity chefs and TV stars sharing their Greek-heritage inspired recipes. Additionally, more and more Americans are lightening up their diets by turning to Mediterranean food as a healthy alternative to heavy meat dishes and fried foods.
Wanna go greek at home? Whip up our Greek Fit-for-the-Gods Salad with Spicy Cucumber Dressing and Pita Chips.
—Grace Elkus, Food Editorial Intern