Monday, December 5, 2016

International Treats

Teaching 9th grade is hard.  Teaching a subject where you are expected to do a tap dance all day is harder.  Teaching a generation that expects everything to be fun every. single. minute. is. the. hardest.

My solution?

Give them get a taste of their own medicine. :)

I have all my students do a presentation about a country from around the world.  We do one presentation a day from about Christmas until the end of the year.  (because is there anything worse than listening to students presentations for an entire period???)  One requirement for the presentation is some type of visual aide.  Some students just make a powerpoint of pictures, some bring in souvenirs from the country, others bring in guest speakers, but always welcome is the food.  Because of these presentations I have tested all sorts of crazy foods from all over the world.  (But let's be honest, the really crazy food I always pass on.... So I didn't eat the cow intestine soup or the pig feet or even the kimchi.  Ew.  But your better believe I taste all the treats.

I have become a connoisseur of international treats. Some international treats are becoming more popular in the U.S.  For instance, when I started doing these country presentations back in 2008 I had never heard of Hi-Chew.  But now you can find them anywhere.  *Did you know the Japanese created Hi-Chew to be like gum?  In Japanese culture it is offensive to take anything out of your mouth.  So they created this candy to chew like gum but then swallow when you are finished.  (Hence I feel like I have a lump of gum in my stomach if I eat too many)  But man they are delicious.

 Or like Haribo gummy candy.  This German company is a lot more common for not just it's gummy bears but all of it's different varieties of gummy candy.  *My personal favorite are the Berries and the Italian Sour Spaghetti.

 Japaneses Pocky can now be found in pretty much any grocery store.

 Ah.............. Brazilian lemonade might be my favorite non caffeinated drink of all time.

So those are all pretty common in the United States.  So I thought I'd make a list of my 10 Ten Not As Common International Treats.

10. Not necessarily my favorite but definitely needs to be on the list are alfajores.  This South American cookie *I've had students from Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil claim they originated there... so I'll call it South American.  But this shortbread type cookie is filled with dulce de leche and then rolled in coconut.  I put this one at number 10 because often times I find it very dry.  But a caramel center?  Can't complain too much.

9. Australian Licorice.  I put this one at number 9 for no other reason than it is common in US so not that impressive.  The taste on the other hand is amazing!  Although I feel there are a lot of imitators out there now that are pretty disgusting.  But a good authentic Australian Licorice is pretty hard to beat.  My personal favorites are strawberry, apple, and black licorice.  

8. Botan Rice Candy from Japan.  I have 2 different rice candies on this list.  This one is pretty amazing.

7. Cadbury Flake from United Kingdom.  I am not a huge chocolate person.  Especially plain chocolate.  But the way this candy bar flakes off and melts in your mouth is pretty impressive.  

6. Brigadeiro from Brazil.  The first time I had this treat I could not believe how unbelievably delicious it was!  It a barely chocolatey flavored ball of sweet and condensed milky heaven.  I don't understand why they aren't more popular in the US.

5. Nanaiomo bars.... okay.  This is actually the treat that I am most shocked that I hadn't had before.  They are hugely popular in Canada and they are delicious!   With layers of a coconuty, nutty bottom, a custardy middle, and a chocolate top... delicious!  I haven't made them because you have to use custard powder and I never remember to buy it, but I really need to make them soon.

4. I love lavender flavor things.  I understand it's probably an acquired taste....  kinda like number 2 on the list.  But still.... I love lavender.  In my top 3 favorite things I've ever eaten was a lavender gelato in Florence.  But anyway, luckily the British also love lavender.  I have had multiple different flavored lavender candies from Britain but here are two of my favorite.  The second I call Lavendar Smarties.  

3. Of course we've all heard of Macaroons before.   But this cookie is out of this world.  I had a student whose parents immigrated from France.  True french people.   (With the smell and all) My student and her mother tried to explain to me about macaroons.  I wasn't really clear in their broken English but I think they told me what Americans think of as macaroons are actually macarons.  These cookies are macaroons.  They are made with almond flour.  They are crispy and chewy and unbelievable delicious.

2. Like I said... this one is also a very acquired taste.  Maybe it is my Danish heritage... but man oh man do I absolutely love a good hearty Scandinavian black licorice.  I have had some really awful ones... too salty.  Or too soft.  OR the worst was the bag I bought in the Copenhagen airport that had menthol in it! Ew.  Anyway, but a good black licorice is hard to beat.  

 1. But my favorite and possible the most unique of all the international candies I have tasted is the White Rabbit from China.  I like to call it a Milk Flavored Tootsie Roll.  They are so simple and absolutely delicious.  Sometimes a bit hard (I read they are supposed to be hard because they were created for Chinese workers out in the fields.  They would keep them in their pockets and the heat of their body would warm them up as they worked all day.)  But they are delicious.  And a good source of calcium. :)


Chelsea said...

Alfajores are definitely from Argentina and don't let anyone tell you differently. But since both Brazil and Uruguay border Argentina, they can get secondary honors. Don't even know why Paraguay is trying to home in on the action. But my companion from Paraguay never insisted they had them in Paraguay, at least not the classic version you showed here. And yes they are a dry cookie...usually...but when eaten in a humid climate that softens the cookie up...MUCH better. And I don't think I've ever seen brigadeiros made in any type of marketable situation. Which is too bad because you are right, they are amazing!!! I'll have to try out the other unknown stuff to me on this list!!!

Matthew and Lindsey said...

I'm brining your treats from japan