Food in Focus: What Is Aioli?

Food in Focus: What Is Aioli?

You may find yourself reading through the lists of strange-sounding words on a restaurant’s menu. One word that might pop up? Aioli. You might’ve heard that it’s similar to mayonnaise. But what is it, really? Aioli can be made many ways, all equally delicious.

Aioli Isn’t Just Mayonnaise

People tend to describe aioli as mayonnaise, but that’s not entirely true. Both sauces do contain similar ingredients: eggs, oil, and lemon juice. The difference lies in the way each sauce is made. First, mayonnaise is usually emulsified within a blender or food processor. Aioli, however, is traditionally made with pestle and mortar. When making aioli, chefs pound garlic into a paste. Then, they whisk the garlic paste along with egg yolks, lemon juice, and oil. The kind of oil makes a difference, too. While mayonnaise is made with canola oil, aioli is made with olive oil. The consistency of aioli can range from thick and paste-like to a creamy texture.

The History of Aioli

Aioli comes from the Mediterranean. Originally, aioli consisted of garlic salt ground into oil. In other regions, like France, cooks also added egg yolk and lemon juice. Current French aioli is closer to garlic mayonnaise than traditional aioli. The Spanish Catalan, however, don’t consider that true aioli. Instead, they only consider the eggless recipe to be aioli.

 

European Dishes That Include Aioli

Europeans traditionally serve aioli with fish or vegetables. The Spanish serve aioli with codfish and boiled vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and peppers. During the summer, they hold feasts where people bring their own fish and vegetables to dip into the host’s aioli. People in the Provence region of France celebrate a similar tradition. It’s called aioli monstre, or “grand aioli,” and it is, indeed, a grand celebration for foodies. Diners pile meats, fishes, and vegetables on their plate and then dip them in the aioli. Aioli is also a popular side dish during a French Christmas Eve dinner called the Gros Souper, or The Great Supper.

American Dishes That Include Aioli

In the United States, aioli is used as a catch-all term for flavored mayonnaise. This is especially true of garlic mayonnaise. In many fine dining restaurants, chefs use aioli on scallops and other seafood. Aioli can also be used as a spread on sandwiches in the US. Spanish food purists, however, would probably not consider this aioli. Still, the same basic ingredients ring true: cloves of garlic and canola oil.

You Can Make Your Own Version of Aioli

The main ingredient for today’s aioli? Creativity! Garlic and olive oil are the only constants in the recipe. You can add vegetables, like artichokes or beets. Or you can even add in meats, like fish or chicken. The best part is that aioli can be prepared well in advance of a meal. Wash and chop the ingredients, then put them in a food processor. And voila! You have a unique – and delicious! — dipping sauce for parties and other festivities. Serve up your aioli with steamed vegetables, meat, fish, or shellfish. A home-made aioli is a quick and easy way to add variety to left-overs, or create new and exciting flavor combinations along with prepared foods. For instance, this lemon-garlic aioli is delightful and delicious with Market Table’s pork tenderloin. Make orange peel aioli as a mouth-watering addition to Market Table’s smoked chicken. Finally, this savory jalapeño aioli adds just the right kind of spice to burgers and beef dishes, like our seared flank steak.

 

Text by Jonathon Page

The Whole Story About Whole30

The Whole Story About Whole30

You’ve probably seen posts about the Whole30 Diet circulating on social media. That’s because Whole30 encourages participants in the diet to share their stories. Not only does this keep them accountable, but it also helps them to find encouragement from fellow dieters. But what exactly is Whole30? And why is it all over your social media feeds?

 

Bowl of grilled chicken, asparagus, avocado, limeWhat Is Whole30?

This program revolves around 30 days of clean eating. The program promises that if you try clean eating for just 30 days, it’ll change your relationship with food. According to Whole30, certain foods negatively impact your mental and physical health. Some of these food include sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. So, rather than counting calories, you simply focus on eating foods that are good for your health.

 

What Can I Eat?

Tray of fresh root vegetables

There are pretty specific rules as to what you cannot eat. The number-one food group on the list is sugar, whether real or artificial — including substitutes like stevia and honey. The program also doesn’t allow for alcohol or tobacco. Grains, legumes, and dairy? Also not allowed. Don’t panic, though — that’s just for 30 days. If you feel stuck and unsure of what you can eat, Whole30 has a list of approved foods and brands, as well as their own meal plans.

 

What Are the Benefits?

This diet sounds a little extreme, but the program promises a vast variety of benefits. For one, it’s only 30 days to clean out your body and allow yourself to start fresh with a new mentality with food. After those 30 days, it’s not necessary to be as restrictive with your food choices, but you can keep the lessons learned from Whole30 in mind. Some of the benefits listed on Whole30’s website are weight loss, improvement to body composition, high energy levels, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus andmental clarity, and a sunnier disposition.

 

Salad with chicken and tomatoes

If you’re struggling to get started on your Whole30 journey, you can try one of Market Table’s salads, Light Lunchboxes, or frittatas — just ask for it without cheese. We even have meal kits to help you cook healthy food at home. If you see anything else on the menu that looks good but doesn’t meet the Whole30 requirement, we can help you find a substitute.

Text by Katherine Polcari

The 7 Tastes (And Maybe an 8th?)

The 7 Tastes (And Maybe an 8th?)

Many of us were taught that humans can sense four tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. But did you know that there are actually seven tastes? And ongoing research suggests there may even be an eighth.

 

Salty

This is the simplest of the tastes. Salt is actually the compound sodium chloride, which is necessary for the human body. That’s because it regulates fluids and creates nerve impulses. Humans perceive it as warming, soothing and drying. Any foods with sodium chloride are perceived as salty. Examples include soy sauce, celery, baking soda/powder, seaweed and olives.

Sweet

Sweetness indicates the presence of sugars in foods, along with certain proteins. The sweet taste is pleasurable to most people, except in excess. It is calming and relaxing. Also, the tongue may perceive it as moist. Common foods that taste sweet are sugar, cinnamon, dill, honey, butter, wheat, almonds, carrots and avocado.

 

Sour

Sour tastes let us know that there are acids in certain foods. This stimulates the digestive system, metabolism and appetite, but, as an added bonus, can also relieve gas. Citrus fruits are the most common sour fruits. Other sour foods include yogurt, sour cream, tomatoes, vinegar, goat cheese, pickles and sauerkraut.

 

Bitter

The bitter taste receptors identify bases in foods. Humans taste bitterness so that we may avoid naturally toxic substances, most of which taste bitter. Because of this, it is the taste we are most sensitive to. In fact, we are so sensitive that many perceive bitter foods to be unpleasant, sharp or disagreeable. Some bitter foods include coffee, unsweetened cocoa and citrus peel. Quinine, found in tonic water, is also quite bitter.

Umami (Savory)

This flavor is often described as “savory” or “meaty.” Salt magnifies the taste, which is why adding salt to a tomato amplifies the flavor. Umami-rich foods include Parmesan cheese, miso, soy sauce, mushrooms, walnuts, grapes and broccoli. To a lesser degree, it’s also found in meats.

 

Astringent

This taste is in addition to the basic five tastes that humans perceive. Astringent foods contain tannins, which constrict organic tissue. It causes a puckering sensation that may also be described as rubbery, styptic, dry or rough. In addition, it may be described as harsh when found in wine, or tart, in sour foods. The astringent flavor is found in tea, unripe fruit, nutmeg, rosemary, green apples, spinach and lentils.

 

Pungent

The pungent taste is perceived as dry heat. It can boost metabolism and circulation, aid digestion and reduce body fat. Pungent foods include basil, chili powder, all hot peppers, ginger, peppermint, cayenne, horseradish, onion and garlic.

 

An Eighth Taste?

Since the 1800s, there have been arguments over whether or not fat is another taste that humans can perceive. The theory is that humans developed it in order to ensure we got enough high fat during times of food scarcity. In 2005, French researchers discovered that rats do have the taste receptor for fat. It is still unclear whether humans do, but it is clear that fatty foods like French fries are absolutely delicious.

 

Text by Jennie Tippett

Wine Tasting to Benefit PreSchool Partners

Wine Tasting to Benefit PreSchool Partners

On May 10th, Market Table will host a wine tasting to benefit PreSchool Partners, a Birmingham school that works to provide a high-quality early education to underserved familiesPreSchool Partners was started 23 years ago, and it’s only continued to grow. According to their website, during the 2017-18 school year alone, PreSchool Partners serves 180 people, 90 children and 90 parents.

“We are able to see our students come full circle as they succeed as college grads, professionals in the community, and as highly ranked service members,” says PreSchool Partners’ Director of Development, Stephanie Pressley.

The success of this school comes from the dedicated staff and parents. A unique aspect of PreSchool Partner’s education is that parents are required to go to a class once a week for their child to receive reduced tuition. “Research shows that parent involvement is an indicator of academic success,” Pressley says. “Our parents attend a weekly parent program focus on giving them the tools that will support their child’s learning process as well as resources to help advance them personally.”

According to PreSchool Partner’s website, some of the topics covered during the Parent Program include anger management, nutrition, child development, dealing with temper tantrums and money management. Parents are also able to participate in “Families Reading Together.” This program provides parents with a book each week so that they can read with their children. Also, a trained instructor facilities the reading to help the child develop their reading skills.

All of these incredible programs require donations to keep them running. And is there any better way to donate than by attending a wine tasting event?

“We are all about community and we think that Market Table’s values align with ours,” Pressley says. “Money raised at the event will go directly to our program. With every $1,000, we are able to provide a deserving family with their school year tuition.”

The wine tasting will start and 6:00 and go until 8:00. Tickets are only $20. You’ll get to taste 4 wines — and you’ll get two full glasses of the wine of your choice as well. The proceeds from every ticket go directly to PreSchool Partners. Additionally, during the event, all wine bottles will be 20% off.

If you can’t make it to the wine tasting event, there are several other ways to support PreSchool Partners. For more information, visit preschool-partners.org.

 

Text by Katherine Polcari

Food in Focus: Why We Love the Avocado

Food in Focus: Why We Love the Avocado

The international avocado market blew up from 2012-2016. In fact, the exports increased as much as 30% in some areas — and no, it’s not just because of Millennials and their avocado toast. Here’s why the fruit (yes, we said fruit!) is so sought-after.

First: A Little U.S. History

In 1914, the US banned the import of Mexican avocados into the continental United States as a way to stop the seed weevil from destroying American farms. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange began growing and selling the fruit instead. However, they couldn’t keep up with the demand of the whole country. For decades, only states on the west coast with fresh fruit markets were able to enjoy the creamy fruit.

What’s in a Name?

In the years following the ban, the fruit became known as “alligator pears.” The thick skin was bumpy and various shades of green, like the reptile, and the shape was that of a pear. The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange worked to change the name to avocado, thinking that the exoticism of the name would lend to its reputation as a luxury fruit.

 

Touchdown, Guacamole!

In 1997, the US started to slowly lift the ban. But there were still hurdles to overcome. Many Americans didn’t understand how to properly eat an avocado. So, the growers launched a campaign to educate Americans. One of the best facets of this campaign was the Super Bowl/Guacamole Bowl recipe contest. The growers’ PR firm asked various NFL teams for their best guac recipes. The firm suggested that the best recipe might predict the winner of the Super Bowl. The plan worked, and Americans fell in love with guacamole. In fact, we consume 8 million pounds of it every Super Bowl Sunday.

 

Health Benefits

Study after study confirms that the avocado is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Just a 3.5 ounce serving contains Vitamins K, C, B5, B6, E, A, B1, B2 and B3. It also contains other nutrients, like folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc and phosphorus. There are 160 calories in this one serving, with only 2 grams of net carbs, 15 grams of healthy fats and 2 grams of protein.

All of these nutrients lead to different health benefits. Avocados promote weight loss. They contain low amounts of saturated fat and curb hunger. The fruit improves overall heart health by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Avocados also have anti-aging benefits from being packed with antioxidants. And they even improve eye health.

 

Let’s Have a Toast

Chefs love to use avocados in recipes. Their creaminess is great for balancing acidity or spice. The avocado flavor is delicate enough not to overwhelm any other ingredients.

And, of course, there’s avocado toast. It’s a simple, filling snack or breakfast food that is quick to prepare and scrumptious to boot. Add salt, pepper, olive oil and whatever other topping you’d like. A fried or soft-boiled egg would be perfect. Or if it’s too early to think about making your own, swing by Market Table for a breakfast featuring  our tasty avocado toast.

 

From the way sales have increased each year, it is clear that, when it comes to the avocado, Americans have no problem in making up for lost time.

 

Text by Jennie Tippett