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It is an election day, but here it's all about the food.

November 4th, 2008 | Comments Off

It’s National Chicken Day

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and National Candy Day. Oh the possibilities.

And according to those who insist on making everything about the bizarre, it’s also Waiting for the Barbarians Day, but I don’t think you want me to talk about that in terms of food-relatedness. That would be gross.

AND, if that’s not enough- these food holidays are everywhere!- the first week in November is National Fig Week, I imagine because figs are becoming ripe and ready to devour right about now. Anybody got any?? I love a good fresh squishy tasty fig. And I even love them dried.

Let’s start at the beginning and quickly move on….I mean, seriously, write about chicken?? What can be said that hasn’t been said? What could be done with it that is fresh and new? Chicken is the most widely used domesticated fowl in the entire world, and in terms of cooking, there are those who either love or hate it. It’s everywhere you look. Yes, the ubiquitous boneless skinless breast is lean and a decent source of protein, but the ones that you can normally buy in the market are almost always twice the standard portion size, so if you even eat one of them you’re likely eating too much. They also tend towards flavorless and dull, except, as those would argue, they become a virtual tabula rasa for anything you wish to add.  Sure, yeah…..and if you aren’t careful you’ll overcook the thing and it becomes stringy white fowl flesh to choke down. But don’t get me wrong; I buy them and we use them a lot, and I can cook them to be tender, moist, flavor-filled and delicious but I think I am in the minority. I’ve heard way too many arguments against them from others, and it’s just one of those food items that comes down to personal taste. They are all like that and we all just need to deal with it. I don’t begrudge anyone’s choices.

I personally love chicken thighs. I have always been a dark chicken devotee from the time I can recall eating it, and it likely stems from attempting to struggle through an overcooked piece of white meat. But even when I finally discovered that it didn’t have to be that way, the dark meat still remained a favorite. The thighs can be very cheap, and your best bet is to learn how to de-bone them as it will save you at the check-out. Even if you don’t remove the bone prior to cooking, it’s pretty simple to slip the meat free once it’s done. These always hold up well on the grill and take on a marinade like a champion prize fighter. They are nearly impossible to wreck.

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I love this hilarious ad campaign. We aren’t big consumers of beef, much to my child’s angst, so I can’t agree more with the Chik-Fil-A cows who urge us all to ‘Eat mor chik-n’.

It’s now about Figs.

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I love figs- fresh, dried, in a Newton- they are perfectly wonderful food. Figs go wayyyyyy back and are considered of utmost importance in terms of being objects of worship and cultural interest in many areas of the world. They are noted as being one of the first plant species deliberately bred for agriculture in the Middle East more than 11,000 years ago. We all know what happened in the Garden with the fig leaf, and they are listed as one of the foods found in the Promised Land according to the Torah. It is one of the two sacred trees in Islam, and is pivotal in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism religions and they are a key component in many tropical rainforests providing food to many animal and bird species. They are an excellent source of fiber, potassium and calcium and have shown to offer protection against macular degeneration. Of the more than 150 varieties grown around the world, the most popular ones are the Black Mission, Calymyrna, Brown Turkey, Kadota and Adriatic, and all of them are subtley varied in terms of flavor and dramatically in color.

Then, finally- CANDY.

I’m not a huge candy eater but I do love my dark chocolate. Our trick-or-treaters got a wide selection of minis of every kind, and hands down when I told them to pick something, they grabbed for the little boxes of Junior Mints. Those disappeared the fastest.  I certainly can’t argue; my absolute favorite thing to nibble on lately has been something very similar.

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This, to me, is the perfect marriage of chocolate and mint. Not too much of one or the other, and it’s dark chocolate so who can argue? The other perfect combination that I love is the little miniature Milky Way Midnights. Talk about perfection! One little bite of intense dark chocolate and the nougat-y caramel-y goodness of Milky Way. I made sure there were some of those in my Halloween hand-outs strictly so I could indulge. I used to LOVE candy as a kid, and recall with great fondness riding my bike to the local corner shop to peruse the candy selection with my sisters and neighborhood friends. I loved Sugar Babies, Bubs Daddy, Hot Tamales, Brown Cows and LifeSavers. I don’t need candy in my life anymore, but a bite here and there is very satisfying. I’m really glad to have gotten my candy-eating out of my system.

Happy Candy Day, Chicken Day and Fig Week!

{{information for this post was found on the California Fig Board website and The World’s Healthiest Food website. Candy image from Ghiradelli.com, cows from Chik-Fil-A}}

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