It might be the lack of good food near my place of employment making me sad, or maybe just the summer months because summer is the best in terms of food, but I feel a need to rank my favorite foods. But since it is nearly impossible to actually rank them, they are randomized. Because how’s a girl supposed to choose between falafel and brie as favorites? HOW???
1. Olive Oil
I don’t know what it is about olive oil. It’s tangy, it’s sort of sweet sometimes, it’s a lovely color, it adds delight to anything you put it on. I love dipping bread into olive oil, but will often say the bread is more of a vessel for the oil because it’s really the oil I’m after. If it wouldn’t be a gigantic waste of food, I would swim in olive oil.
But not all olive oil is created equal. The only olive oil worth eating or using for sunburns, dry skin, or any other topical use is extra virgin olive oil. This means it is 100% pure olive oil with less than 1% acidity. It also means it tastes the best and is overall superior to just plain olive oil or refined olive oil.
I become oddly excited about bottles of olive oil. When I did a study abroad in Siena, Italy it was the biggest kick to buy a bottle that was made from olives grown just a few miles away (oh, and it was delicious). At home, the best olive oil comes from Tony Caputo’s. They have the best selection of oils and their samples cause me to swoon.
Brie with a sourdough baguette and some fruit is a favorite. I love the colors and the tastes. I used to work at a cookie bakery where my manager and I ate baguettes, fruit, and brie fairly regularly. Last Valentine’s Day she sent me a virtual valentine via Facebook that said, “Brie mine.” Best valentine ever.
The sad part about my love of brie is, apparently brie sold in the United States–even if it’s imported from France–is not the same as the brie sold in France because here we have absurd raw milk laws. Brie is supposed to be made from raw milk, but that is illegal in the States so it has to be made with pasteurized and homogenized milk. I’m certain it’s not as good, but I still take great delight in it.
Am I a brie fraud because I can’t eat the real thing?
Falafel has been having a major moment since I went to New York City in April 2013 and tasted it for the first time. It wasn’t even great falafel but it was good enough to begin within me an obsession for the food.
It’s just everything delicious rolled into one substance! I don’t even really know what to say about it. It’s the perfect food, especially for vegetarians. Protein! Delicious protein! And in a pita pocket! With tzatziki sauce! It’s enough to make one dance with hungry delight. Honestly, I wish I had a magic falafel-producing contraption to carry around so I could have falafel whenever I want it.
4. Chocolate (duh)
Who doesn’t love chocolate? I know some people don’t, and that just weirds me out. It’s like not liking The Beatles.
I love chocolate, but not all chocolate. There exists in this world chocolate that is not worth eating because it is disgusting or is sourced despicably (read: sources cacao from places using child slavery). Hershey’s falls into both those categories.
Personally, I love Ritter Sport Alpine Milk. German-made with cacao beans sourced from Nicaragua. While I like to maintain healthy skepticism when it comes to well-to-do companies, Ritter Sport says they pay farmers a fair wage and source from co-ops, so that’s nice.
Additionally, there are brownies. And local to Utah, The Chocolate Conspiracy where you can buy a raw chocolate bar for a whopping $8.00.
What is it about chocolate? I wrote a paper about cacao for a Classic Maya course in college and I still don’t quite understand why chocolate is the ultimate food.
I’ve been munching on kale for years now and only recently learned it is apparently a trendy food. Who knew? Food trends are possibly the oddest trends in existence. Eat what you like and maintain a variety of different foods. Grow food, eat locally when you can, recognize that the ultimate superfood is simply a variety of real food. But moving on…
Kale is just an all around great green crop to have, and super easy to grow. One could easily grow it in a pot if one lacks a backyard and garden.
Kale is best when sauteed with garlic and dried peppers and olive oil. If done correctly, it will remain fresh and green, but might accrue some crunch from being cooked. I always like a crunch. When cooked this way, kale can be its own side dish, added to pasta (my favorite), added to eggs, added to whatever screams, “I need some kale to be complete!”
I don’t even know how many varieties of squash there are. Some grow in the summer, some grow in the fall. I’ve never tasted one I didn’t like.
Zucchini and yellow squash are staples for summer. Pasta, hummus wraps, omelettes, raw dishes. They’re such warm and comforting foods.
In the fall, squash helps me to relish the cooling weather instead of look toward winter with foreboding, as I am wont to do. Pumpkin curry soup. Pumpkin pie. Butternut squash pasta. (I have a thing for pasta, too.)
Pumpkin is a vague descriptor for a squash. People tend to think of pumpkin as the bright orange, possibly roundish pumpkins used for carving. But the number of pumpkin varieties is staggering. Every fall the farmers’ market bursts with different pumpkins. Cinderella pumpkins, fairytale pumpkins, Galeux d’Eysines (often known as brain pumpkin in my house), pumpkins with names I can’t pronounce. They’re all delicious and all beautiful. At my house we buy far too many and freeze what we don’t eat quickly enough. Frozen pumpkin and butternut squash make frozen months bearable.
People who stop eating garlic because they are in a romantic relationship might be a bit on the sad side. I would NEVER stop eating garlic for a relationship. Garlic is a necessity in life and makes everything better.
Garlic is supposedly one of those foods that smells bad, thus the tendency for some people to stop eating it if they’re coupled up. But I really like the smell. When I’ve been cooking with garlic and my hands smell of it for the next several hours, I’m okay with it. I love the smell. I love the taste. I love how garlic completes a dish. Without garlic, so many dishes fall flat in the taste department.
And there is something terribly pleasing about peeling off the papery layer and smashing the clove with a knife. It is a true happy place for me.
8. Baked Goods
My love of baked goods mostly pertains to my own homemade baked goods. While there are a few local bakeries I do love, nothing beats my own baking, and I think that’s good. One should love one’s own creations the most!!!
I love cookies and pie and pain au chocolat best of all. Interestingly, I used to think I hated pie before I started baking pie myself. As it turns out, I’m a superior pie-maker and must have intuited that other pies just weren’t up to snuff! How do I know my pies are superior? When people eat them they can’t say anything except groan in delight.
Pie is best when it is made from ingredients you grew yourself or purchased from a farmers market or co-op. Pumpkin pie from a can is not pumpkin pie in my book. Using fresh ingredients will always, always, always beat frozen or canned ingredients. And unless the crust is handmade, don’t even bother. I may or may not be a baking snob, and I’m okay with that.
I got my start baking by making cookies as a child. I was following a recipe and completely messed up, but the botched version turned out much better than the original. Now, I invent cookies and improve upon recipes that already exist.
And there you have it: the best foods. Are you hungry now?