Posted on Thu, November 20, 2008 by Jerusha Klemperer
5 Comments | Categories: Biodiversity, Farms and Farming,
by Cecilia Estreich
During the holidays, tradition tends to shine even in the most fast-food saturated kitchens. Despite Coca-Colas insistence that the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve is all about computer-animated polar bears and sugary, carbonated beverages, the real centerpiece of most holiday meals is a family recipe. Think about it. Whether its a cookie recipe brought over from Italy with your Sicilian grandma or the stuffing your mother learned to make in college, the holidays are a time when we celebrate our loved ones and our cultures through food.
This year, Slow Food would like you to add another element to your feasts: foods listed on the US Ark of Taste, an online catalog of more than 200 rare and regional foods in the U.S. If the holidays are a time when we celebrate and give thanks, it seems fitting to prepare foods that support people in our communities and reflect our local traditions.
Looking through the Ark list on the Slow Food website, there are so many endangered products that are perfect for a holiday table: heirloom apples for pies, Louisiana oysters for stuffing, heritage turkey breeds and regional cheeses from the American Raw Milk Cheese Presidium. There are also thirteen new products that were boarded on the list in August.
Among the new products, The Datil Pepper is well suited to festive dishes. In the 1880s a Chilean jelly-maker brought the pepper to St. Augustine, FL where the local Minorcan population enthusiastically incorporated it into their cuisine. Today, the Datils uniquely bright and fruity flavor is still front and center in kitchens throughout the region. Richard Villadoniga, leader of Slow Food St. Augustine recently let us know some of the ways that people use the pepper in their holiday cuisine. Its versatility makes it suitable for everything from mustards to steaks, from BBQ sauce to vegetables, but the St. Augustine based company the Minorcan Datil Pepper Products makes a particularly standout holiday treat- a cranberry Datil sauce that is the perfect accompaniment to meat or poultry at any celebration, Boiled cider and cider jelly are two other newly boarded Ark products that could be appearing at dinners throughout the season. Both sweeteners are indigenous to New England and made from boiled apple cider. While they were widely used in colonial days, they have fallen into obscurity today. Willis and Tina Wood, owners of Wood Cider Mill, one of the last boiled cider-producing farms, shared one of their favorite holiday recipes with us, boiled cider pie. The boiled cider highlights the products strength as a sweetener. They also suggest spreading cider jelly on leftover turkey sandwiches. Yum.
But, cider jelly and the Datil pepper are only two of the many Ark products that should grace our tables. Follow this link and explore some of the delicious products on the Ark and share your stories, recipes and experiences with us. We would love to hear about the old traditions you celebrate every year or the new ones you forged this holiday season. For information on sourcing and cooking with Ark Products please check out our guide on