What’s the Deal, Dill

Soup, cooled, is a smoothie. A smoothie warm is soup.

This blog in recent years has focused more on food. Those mainly have covered recipes. A few posts have explored the thinking, how my preferences developed.

Pureeing soups as a trend began the decade before last. They’re still hard to avoid. I like to see then eat a multitude of colors, textures and shapes. Can’t tell the carrots from the broccoli when you whiz everything down to pulp.

There are exceptions, like potato-leek soup. Both were among the first homegrown produce available at the Fayetteville Farmers Market weeks ago. Leeks pack a lot of onion flavor with little bite. Yet even the tender white part of the stalk is fibrous. Whirring up helps. Cooking in red lentils or adding canned white cannellini beans hide plant protein with a minute of an immersion stick blender, add creamy body, too.

Served at room temperature or cooler it’s called vichyssoise, oo-la-la. I spruced up leftovers with kale, simmered then re-pureed. That’s when I beheld a vegan green power smoothie.

I had been mocking smoothies all this time. I did enjoy Tropical Smoothie last year,  been meaning to go back.

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Jar of pickles illustration from openclipart.orgWhile no pickle freak, a jar in the fridge is handy for snacking. Finally finished that jar a while ago. It and the one before that though just weren’t as tasty, and they were from top companies, too.

Puckery cukes are tricky to find in my city’s new Whole Foods Market. What look like them are labeled “fermented cucumbers.” This no doubt is due to renewed interest in the benefits of kraut, kimchi and the like — as opposed to brining in salt or soaking in vinegar. But I sought a regular affordable reliable pickle.

A pickle’s a pickle, sweet, bread-and-butter, sour, dill. Dill does it for me. But when I shopped to replace my store of them, the labels in conventional markets stopped me cold.

Where’s the dill?

No jar in conventional groceries, neither house brands nor nationally marketed ones contained dill. All instead had “natural flavors.” That trip I also shopped for catsup, and every one of those contained “natural flavors,” even the USDA Organic bottles.

Natural flavors sounds like a catchall, real foods or herbs or whathaveyou, concentrated in flavor but also designed in labs, using not too many chemicals (otherwise it’d be artificial flavor) to make a product consistent across the year and across the country.

In “What Are Natural Flavors, Really?” CNN reports orange juice is another staple to which natural flavor generally is added. Federal rules and chemists discern the often fine differences between natural and “artificial flavors,” it says. In “What It Really Means When You See ‘Natural Flavors’ on a Food Label,” Business Insider reports that for the Food and Drug Administration, “flavors don’t even count as ingredients.” A natural flavor can have 50 to 100 ingredients. Here is the FDA, notably section No. 3 in “CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.”

The Wal-Marts in town, fortunately, leave shelf space for McClure’s Garlic and Dill Pickle Spears. Dill is there on the ingredients box!.

Are they great? The only great dill pickles were the ones canned by my mom’s BFF best friend forever, the late Isabel Marks. Is would buy the cucumbers and dill weed (her husband Mort’s garden’s yield was iffy, I recall), at Yutterman’s Market, a wondrous Fort Smith grocery with uneven, cracked concrete floors, nothing terribly clean, as I remember from childhood. The back half of the store was table after table of produce, mostly local, decades before that was the thing.

Isabel gave me, as a bachelor on his own, her treasured gazpacho recipe, but I recall I didn’t accept the one for pickles because of its brevity. So much was her judgment, by look, by touch, the cucumbers just the right size and firmness, the long sturdy stalks of green dill, on her gas stove a stockpot of water simmered to sterilize the jars and so forth. Mine never would be anywhere close to hers..

McClure’s pickles, out of Detroit, are very good. If you want a jar to have enough dill in them to be listed as an ingredient, there you go.

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