The way the food writer Anya von Bremzen sees it, many cuisines can be defined by iconic dishes. In her latest book, “National Dish,” she examines six of them through a personal lens while consulting a gaggle of experts, from academics to local butchers. Beginning with French pot-au-feu in a country of richly globalized cooking, she moves on to Naples (pizza and pasta), Tokyo (ramen and rice), Seville (tapas and the ingredients they require), Oaxaca (maize, mole and mezcal), Istanbul (mezze and more), and her native Russia and also Ukraine (borscht). The histories of essential ingredients, how they flourished in particular countries and her connection to the various cultures are woven throughout this compelling read. The cover is illustrated by Roz Chast.
“National Dish: Around the World in Search of Food, History and the Meaning of Home” by Anya von Bremzen (Penguin Press, $30).
Red, White and Blue Cast-Iron
Lodge, a well-regarded American company known for its cast-iron cookware for more than 125 years, has introduced its first line of enameled cast iron made in the United States. Until now, all of its enameled cast iron pots and pans were made in China. But its new bright red, white and blue Dutch ovens labeled USA Enamel are being produced in a new facility at its headquarters in South Pittsburg, Tenn., achieving a longstanding goal. You might not need three of them but the colors — red (“Cherry on Top”), white (“Cloud Nine”) and royal blue (“Smooth Sailing”) — would brighten a July Fourth buffet filled with corn on the cob, lobsters or chili. The pots have sleek, almost automotive design elements with stainless steel accents and white interiors. They’re heavy and come in four sizes: 3, 4.5, 6 and 7.5 quarts, from $229.95 to $349.95. They perform and clean well.
Lucesca, a new olive oil from Tuscany, has developed something of a cult following in shops in the Hamptons. It has also been introduced at Pop Up Grocer in Greenwich Village and was incorporated in Hallie Meyer’s olive oil soft-serve at her Caffè Panna ice cream shop on Irving Place. The oil is named for Luca and Francesca Pinelli, a brother and sister team who began making it last fall from four varieties of olives growing on thousands of trees at their family’s estate in Magliano, in southern Tuscany. The gold-green oil is mellower than many Tuscan oils, yet finishes with the expected peppery bitterness characteristic of the region. “It’s our first oil and it’s likely to evolve,” Mr. Pinelli said. There are three different formats: a ceramic bottle ($55), a dark glass bottle ($45) and a tin ($35), all 16.9 ounces.
Serving Platters You Don’t Have to Safeguard
You leave the real jewels in the safe and wear paste to the gala. Similarly, when serving outdoors, these new Melamine Vietri pieces are a lovely option. They are by the Italian pottery company in Melamine plastic, and closely double the hand-painted originals. Though the safety of the plastic is questioned for some uses, it has been approved by the FDA and these days is widely used as dinnerware, especially for the patio. But use it only for serving, not heating or microwaving. The generous platter and bowl are weighty, shatterproof, elegant and dishwasher-safe.
Vietri Campagna Melamine Serving Platter, Serving Bowl, each $79, food52.com.
Sake Recommendations Tailored to Your Tastes
For a wine to drink with dinner, you can easily tell red from white and don’t have to know whether to serve it hot or cold. With sake? Not so easy for the uninitiated. Enter this new curated service from Tippsy Sake, an online store with hundreds of sakes in its inventory. You start by completing a clever, detailed questionnaire designed to fathom your taste profile and what and when you like to drink. Based on your responses, sake experts review submissions and select three or six bottles priced from about $35 that arrive at your doorstep. Genki Ito, the founder hopes to broaden the appeal of sake by “bringing expert recommendations and a fully customizable tasting experience home,” he said. Each of the three bottles I received were similar and pleasing with appealing fruitiness, though I preferred two of them; the third was a trifle sweet.
Tippsy Sake Club, tippsysake.com.
Food Trends at the Summer Fancy Food Show
Giada De Laurentiis, the chef and former Food Network host, was the keynote speaker at the 67th Summer Fancy Food Show run by the Specialty Food Association, a trade group, at the Javits Center in New York this week. She explored current food trends, notably the demand for at-home culinary experiences and the public perception of clean ingredients and minimal processing. Among the notable new products at the show were Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue Sauce, Beecher’s Handmade Street Corn, and Khalsa Salsa’s Indian Fusion Cilantro-Mint Salsa. Whether Evergreen Chocolate and Zucchini Mini-Waffles are notable is open to question, but mash-ups like the latter are to be expected. Through Tuesday, there are sessions covering upcycled, sustainable and regeneratively-grown products and booths allotted to start-up companies; leftover food is donated to City Harvest.
Specialty Food Association, specialtyfood.com.
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