Bitter Orange Cocktails
Recipes History Bitter Orange Cocktails

What do you do with bitter/sour oranges? Due to their acid, they’re probably not anybody’s favorite fruit to peel and eat. But that abrasive personality makes them ideal for marinades, marmalades, salad dressings, sauces and spreads, homemade bitters and cocktails. Like other citrus, the bitter orange is native to southeast Asia, but it spread to Spain in the 10th Century and later to Mexico and the Caribbean as a side effect of colonialism in the new world.

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Updating Tom and Jerry
Recipes History Updating Tom and Jerry

My mother owns a Tom & Jerry punch bowl and the accompanying traditional mugs (as seen here). All of these are pulled out for making Tom & Jerrys at Christmas, and for the rest of the year they hibernate quietly in cardboard boxes alongside the other festive holiday decor. In my (now quite fuzzy) childhood memories of the ’70s and early ’80s, the adults in my life were young and long-haired.

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Germany’s Hokkaido Kürbis Obsession: How Deutschland Fell in Love with a Japanese Squash
Recipes History Germany’s Hokkaido Kürbis Obsession: How Deutschland Fell in Love with a Japanese Squash

It’s hard to miss Hokkaido Squash season in Germany, with special menus and all the farmers' markets and vegetable stands piled high with the popular red-orange “Hokkaido Squash.” Wait, hold on… Hokkaido? That’s a region in Japan. And all the squash and pumpkins are new-world vegetables, anyway. So how the heck did Germany make the Hokkaido pumpkin its own? Our food history on the Hokkaido Kürbis takes us back to the 1500s, when the Portugese brought south and central-American pumpkins back to Europe.

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Day 21: A Festive Frybread
Recipes History Day 21: A Festive Frybread

*This post marks Day 21 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. Since today marks the first day of Hanukkah (as well as the shortest day of the year), I thought it’d be appropriate to commemorate the miracle of the oil with a frybread recipe… a treat for anyone, really. It’s interesting to note that just about any culture that eats bread has its own version of frybread. The classic Donut. Southern Hushpuppies.

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Day 7: Pain, Protection and the Pomander
History Day 7: Pain, Protection and the Pomander

*This post marks Day 7 of Miss Ginsu’s 2007 Advent Calendar. Delightful to smell, dead easy to make and ubiquitous around the holidays, I’d grown up believing the clove-studded orange pomander was the one true thing. As it turns out, pomanders weren’t initially citrus-based at all. They were expensive aroma plus precious metals, cherished as the ancient things of queens and kings. The pomanders of old were fancy perfume carriers.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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