Saturday, January 6, 2018

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Spanish Cookies, Plus More Anthology News

     I'll start with some gratuitous self-promotion once again.  Back in my July 15th, 2017 post, I mentioned an upcoming anthology that accepted one of my short stories.  Now I have more news.  That anthology, "Hidden Animals: A Collection of Cryptids" is still a go.  However, its publication date was pushed back a little, from Winter 2017 to Spring of 2018--probably in May.  Also, in July I detailed 19 stories, along with the authors and cryptids that each featured.  Evidently Dragon's Roost Press received more stories that they wanted to include, so now this anthology is being released, simultaneously, in two volumes, and featuring over 30 stories.  These anthologies are Land Cryptids, and then Air/Sea/Vegetable Cryptids.   (I'm very curious to read about vegetable-based monsters!)
     Anyway, owner/editor Michael Cieslak has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the author's reimbursements, as well as for the Last Day Dog Rescue in Michigan.  As is typical for these campaigns, donating gets you various perks, depending on the amount, including copies of one or both Cryptid volumes, other Dragon's Roost Press books, and even a dinner with the Dragon's Roost Press folks.  Obviously much more information is present at the Kickstarter address.  So I encourage everyone to head on over, and check it out.  Luddite that I am, I wasn't able to get the link working smoothly; but if you type in the address included below, it will take you there.  The campaign runs up to February 3, 2018.  And I'll include more information on the anthologies as I get it.  Thanks. 

     As for the cookies, I discovered these randomly at the local Food Lion grocery in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina.  These were all distributed by the Goya company (see May 25, 2016 post about Brazilian cookies), but were all made in Spain.  I tried their Maria cookies, the chocolate Marias, and the Palmeritas.
     Maria cookies go by several, albeit similar names, as they're also called Marie, Mariebon, and Marietta cookies.  Or as Maria/Mariebon/Marietta biscuits, in certain areas of the world, especially Europe and former English colonies.  Whatever they're called, they were invented in 1874, in England, to honor Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, who married Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.  Alfred was the son of Queen Victoria, and Maria was a member of the Romanovs, and was the aunt of the last Russian Emperor, Tsar Nicholas II.  (For the record, the marriage reportedly wasn't the happiest, given the couple's lack of common interests, and Alfred's alleged philandering.  Also, Maria's support of Germany (where she and Alfred lived and "ruled" as figurehead royalty for a time) against both her native Russia and her husband's native England during World War I didn't go over well, obviously.)  However, despite what people may have thought of the real life impetus for the food, the biscuit/cookie proved to be very popular.  They are eaten both as "tea biscuits" and sometimes mixed with other sweet spreads and desserts.  They're also sometimes dunked in milk and then fed to infants as one of their first solid foods, as they're easy to digest.  Marias are enjoyed on all the six settled continents, including in Canada, Australia, North Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, much of South America, and especially Spain.
       Palmeritas, in contrast, aren't named for anyone famous--instead they're titled after their shape, which is usually patterned after a palm leaf.  They're also sometimes known as elephant's ears, or pig's ears.  (For an account of eating literal pig's ear, please see my January 20, 2013 post.)  These pastry-like concoctions are French in origin.
     Anyway, here's what I thought of these:

1) Maria cookies.  These were round, and a yellowish-brown color.  They were about 6 cm. in diameter (about 2.25 inches), and had a pattern etched along the circumference, along with tiny holes in the middle and "Goya Maria" embossed in the center as well.  They were very plain.  Not very sweet.  Not bad, but not great, either.  Mediocre.

2) Chocolate Maria cookies.  Identical in shape, size, and etchings/embossments except that they were dark brown in color.  Their flavor was pretty much the same, too.  The chocolate did make these taste a bit better.  Still fairly bland, though.  I tried one dipped in milk, and this was somewhat better, too, but still only alright at best.  (To be fair, my father tried these, too, and liked them more than I did.)

3) Palmeritas.  These were yellowish-brown, and almost round, with a tiny indentation on one end, and long grooves inscribed along them.  (I looked at other companies' take on this cookie style, and some of those were more heart-shaped, or elephant/pig-earred shape, I guess.)   They were about 2 inches in diameter (about 5.5 cm.), and had visible whitish grains (sugar, I suppose) sprinkled on them.  These were very reminiscent of the plain Marias--not very sweet, plain and blandish.  Or disappointing--not terrible, but just.....blah.

     Overall then, my impression of all 3 of these Spanish cookies wasn't very positive.  Maybe it's a cultural, "ugly American" part of me, but I prefer my cookies to have a stronger, and sweeter taste.  Like a Thin Mint, or a Pecan Sandy, or an Oreo, or a Nutter Butter, to name just a few off the top of my head.  I can see how they would make good baby food, as they were so inoffensive and dull that they can surely be eaten by even the most delicate of constitutions.  I won't be buying these again.
     I'll conclude this by briefly mentioning some other foods that were named after people.  Some were homages to famous people, some were named after their chef creators, and some were even titled after fairly random, anonymous folks.

1) Alexandertorte.  This Scandanavian treat was believed to have been named to honor the visiting Tsar Alexander I in 1818.

2) Big Hearted Al candy bar.  Named after early 20th century American politician Al Smith.

3) Lobster Alexis.  After Grand Duke Alexis.

4) Fettucine Alfredo.  Invented by, and named after Alfredo di Lelio, who said he created it for his pregnant wife.

5) Caesar salad.  Invented by chef/hotel owner Caesar Cardino in his Tijuana establishment in the early 20th century.

6) Cobb salad.  Some arguments about this one, but most attribute this food's invention to the owner of Hollywood's Brown Derby restaurant, Robert H. Cobb.

7)  Bananas Foster.  This dessert was invented by New Orleans restaurant owner Owen Brennan, to honor his friend, and loyal customer Richard Foster, who was the New Orleans Crime Commissioner.

8) Oh Henry! candy bar.  Reportedly named after a boy who used to frequent the Williamson chocolate company, and hit on the girls working there.

9) Kaiser rolls.  These are one of the older ones.  Invented in 1487 in Vienna, Austria, to honor the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III.

10) Oysters Rockefeller.  Named after, of course, John D. Rockefeller.

11) Baby Ruth candy bar.  There's compelling evidence that this was named after famous baseball player George Herman "Babe" Ruth.  However, when the athlete threatened to sue the candy company, they claimed, dubiously, that it was named after former President Grover Cleveland's daughter.  (I guess they thought the Clevelands wouldn't be as litigious.)

12) Salisbury Steak.  This was invented and promoted by Dr. James H. Salisbury (1823-1905).  He was apparently an early forerunner of the Atkins-type diet, as he thought people should avoid carbs, starches, fruit, and "poisonous" vegetables, and instead eat lots of meat.

13) Nachos.  I was pleased to see that this one's history is definitively known.  In 1943, in Mexico, hotel runner Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya needed a snack food for some customers, but the kitchen was nearly bare.  He managed to come up with the first nachos, and they were given his nickname ever since.


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