Friday, July 08, 2011

Goodbye Nutella, I'll Do You One Betta...

My friend Julie posted this hilarious story about her missing Nutella the other day, and far be it from me to rain on anyone's Nutella parade. I mean, who of us doesn't remember the first time they tasted that chocolatey hazelnutty goodness and thought "OMG, Nutella, where have you been all my life?".But seriously, have you read the ingredient list? Hazelnuts are not the first ingredient, sugar is. Maybe they should call it "sugar spread" instead of "hazelnut spread". Then there's palm oil, and eventually you get to hazelnuts.

Now on the other hand, my little local market carries THIS stuff. One look at the label shows filberts as the first ingredient (that's what we folks around these parts call hazelnuts). You might not know this, but most of the hazelnuts in the U.S. are grown right here in my little neck of the woods. You might've thought that I was the Oregon State Nut but NO, it's the humble filbert. Every fall I run with my dogs through old filbert orchards gone to seed and glean bags and bags of the yummy little nuts.

This spread also boasts organic fair trade dark chocolate as its next ingredient, and moves on to sugar and cocoa butter as well as palm oil. But that's when things get really interesting. Our little dark chocolatey filbert-filled spread has wildcrafted betony on its ingredient list. An herb that's used as a liver tonic and headache cure, betony has a long and very interesting past. A common Roman proverb for someone troubled was “sell your coat and buy betony" and in medieval times you might wear it around your neck to ward off evil spirits. In France, this plant is called herbe du siege, from its roots having been eaten by the garrison of Rochelle during the siege in 1628.

On, you can read about Florida Betony, which apparently is a tuberous root that tastes something like Jicama. I wonder if the wildcrafted Oregon variety is similar, but there's no information on eating it specifically that I can find. I will have to ask my go-to guy for eating from the wild and see what he has to say about it. Nonetheless, it has found its way into this delicious alternative to the evil Nutella, and I'm not complaining.

On top of all of that, it's strawberry season here, and they're unusually sweet and lovely this year. We're putting up a couple of flats of luscious Benton strawberries, and I found that they go uncommonly well with the dark chocolate hazelnut spread for tempting local treat that's just right.

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