Natural Selection

So this is what a typical European village grocery store is. Not big enough to waste precious shelf space on anything other than quality, local, seasonal foods. If you are looking for mangos, you are just SOL.

Often times the crap in a typical American grocery store is NOT designed for taste. This is especially true for our produce. That tomato you pick up at WalMart was manufactured to be durable. That tomato’s primary purpose is to survive unstable harvesting seasons and a lengthy journey from factory-farm to mega-mart. Taste is often a secondary thought. A fresh tomato picked in season from your backyard is a juicy thing of beauty…the things we are all guilty of buying in the middle of winter from our local grocery stores are COMPLETELY different. And this is not just limited to tomatoes, but almost ALL of the ‘fresh’ foods lining grocery aisles in the USA.

Now, I understand and accept the fact that the majority of Americans are OK to sacrifice quality and taste in order to have the convenience of selecting almost any type of fruit or vegetable year round. So while we lose the intense flavor of what produce is capable of providing, we at least do get the option to eat blueberries in the middle of January…AND those blueberries remain relatively affordable year-round too.

But in other countries, this is not the case. Belive it or not,  there are grocery stores in Europe where you won’t find oranges out-of-season.  But what you will find is some damn tasty produce that packs a greater flavor punch than you can imagine. Real, FRESH, natural food has a surprisingly different taste then the junk engineered for USA markets. Hell, even if you don’t like carrots, you will LOVE the stuff found in a European store.

While I was in Italy, I had to take just a few snap shots of what real ‘FRESH’ foods are being offered in European cities and towns. The locals thought I was kind of crazy for being so fascinated with their foods and takeing careful portraits of their vegetables(…but hey they all take pictures of our Grand Canyon, and that is just a hole in the ground). Anyway here are some things we are missing out on in the USA:

A beautiful selection of LOCALLY produced cheeses. So we are in the heart of Italy, and I was expecting to find mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano on every corner. NOPE. These villages grocery stores are REALLY local and only carry the cheese made from the farm next door. So only cheese from the region’s sheep was prevalent in this particular small Tuscan town.

Service with a smile. The lady running this small shop was extremely kind and treated her produce like the delicate artwork that this food really was. I bought a fig from the shop and have been craving FRESH figs ever since…we are really missing out whenever we have to resort to the dried figs commonly found.

Fact: FRESH figs are freaking awesome.

Check this out…REAL San Marzano Tomatoes. I have only ever seen them canned. These are supposed to be the perfect pizza tomato and are cherished by gourmet chefs world-wide. I have never tired them before because I am too stingy to pay the high price tag that the USA gerocery stores sell them at….I always just end up getting the a can of the cheap ‘regular’ tomatos.

Now this is what a meat counter is supposed to look like. I don’t eat much red meat…but after passing this scene in an Italian grocery store, I suddenly considered being a pure carnivore. Those sad sections found in most American grocery stores are dominated by vaccume-packed, highly processed cuts of deli meats that just don’t deserve to be in the same category as the beautiful stuff in the photograph above…I mean, when the hoof is still attached the the cut of meat you are buying, you know it must be from a real animal.

 

REAL Cantaloupe, I think. According to famous food guru Alton Brown and his TV show ‘Good Eats,’ what we call ‘cantaloupe’ in the USA is actually ‘muskmelon.’ I am really not sure what the difference is, but I saw this ‘cantaloupe’ in Europe and thought it might be the real stuff. Either way, US produce sections are often filled with all sorts of hybrid fruits that are from from what originally grew naturally in the fields.
This might be one of the reasons why the produced in Europe always seems to just taste better.

So is year-round availability and dirt-cheap prices better than falvor-packed, seasonal produce? Well that is a personal opinion…I don’t think I will ever be able to give up my year-round constant craving for berries…but damn that FRESH  seasonal stuff served in Europe was tasty…

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Categories: Freaking Healthy, Rants, Recommendations, Unexpected Randomness

Author:Mr. Fed Up

A guy looking for good grub. and YES....I have a website...and I am not going to bore you with one of those personal journal type of blogs. I promise. Check it out; www.FedUpFood.com

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17 Comments on “Natural Selection”

  1. August 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Excellent piece on European food! There is definitely a big difference when eating fruit and veg in USA and Europe!

    • August 23, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      Huge difference, but with the rise in popularity of speciality grocery stores and farmers markets in the USA, hopefully the gap will narrow.

      • August 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

        I hope so too! I am from Ireland where fruit and vegetables are high quality but there is a growing trend for 100% organic food at the moment here. Organic farming is the best. I am a big fan of organic beef – the taste difference is incredible!

      • August 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

        It is funny, because even Walmart is starting to sell a decent selection of organic and more natural items…just a few…but it is a start.

  2. mzsura
    August 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    So true! Makes me miss the time i lived in Italy for a few months

    • August 23, 2012 at 11:49 am #

      Living in Italy for a few months must have been great… For just a few weeks while I was there, I grew accustomed to FRESH figs, and now I am too spoiled to eat the dry stuff.

  3. September 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    Yes! I read something pretty recently how more people are seeking out heirloom varieties of fruits because they actually taste good. Hmmmm, maybe the government doesn’t want us eating fruits and vegetables and that’s why they’re engineering all the taste out of them. 😉
    Seriously though, this country could benefit from eating seasonal foods are supposed to taste good even if they don’t look perfect

    • September 10, 2012 at 2:31 am #

      Haha, your comment made me laugh. I agree with you. I plan on growing more and more vegetables in my garden. They may not look as pretty, but they taste good.

  4. September 30, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    i want the cheese soooooo baaaad

    • October 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

      European cheese is pretty impressive stuff!

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