Well, it, and a wild passion for puns.
The "it" I'm referring to is a keen fascination for unique foods. Now, unemployment being what it is, there are obviously seasons in life created for indulging in unique foods, and seasons in life in which you return to the familiar comfort of the basic (and on sale).
But I love exposure to interesting cuisine. International, ethnic, global; boutique, cottage industry, local; it's fascinating to consider different foods even within the continental U.S. In Wisconsin, they'll make you try cheese curds (pictured left); in Indiana, you inevitably buy fresh sweet corn from a roadside stand; in New England, you'll find yourself staring at a bright red lobster; in the South, someone will make you taste fried okra and pork barbecue. A trip to Michigan will yield venison stew, and we haven't even touched the unique dinner plates on restaurants in New Orleans.
I'm a fan of homemade, too - different denominations, nay, even different congregations have their own specialties (as we've noted in a review of an unfortunate Episcopalian
potluck!). Recently, I was flipping through a cookbook from my mother-in-law's church and discovered several different recipes for something called "Dr. Pepper cake". (That mystery is solved by knowing that Dr. Pepper has its origins in that very region of Texas.)
So it's with delighted fanfare that I mention Foodzie to you. The Pioneer Woman commented on it recently, and ladies and gentlemen, I'm in love.
Do you ever wish there was a bakery nearby besides the purveyors of hard, stale, tasteless bread in Wal-Mart? Do you think to yourself, "my friends in The City have so much to discover and explore, while my options are limited to new display stands at the gas station?"
Welcome to Foodzie. The site describes itself as "an online marketplace where you can discover and buy food directly from small passionate food producers and growers." So while the site gives you one place to go and browse, you're actually purchasing directly from the bakers, candy makers, and so on. There's chestnut jam, spiced pear butter, and strawberry marshmallows; there's Indian curry brittle, orange pecan granola, and roasted red pepper cheese bread; there's buffalo jerky strips, lavender sweet and savory shortbread bars, and dark cacao macaroons.
Some of the products are pricey; some are about what you'd spend on chocolates from, say, Godiva; and some are fairly inexpensive. There are great gift ideas in here as the holidays approach, if you're the "throw together a unique gift basket" kind of person. And it's also an interesting venue if you yourself own a small business or cottage industry and are looking for more exposure. If you're the kind of person who thinks, "that's an interesting combination of ingredients, I think I could make that at home...", then it's also helpful as a springboard for fresh ideas in your own kitchen.
I love the idea of supporting small businesses, especially in this economic climate. My sister-in-law is blessed with a great local dairy in her region, so that she gets milk in glass bottles straight from the town cows. It's fascinating - though pasteurized, it's not homogenized, so you shake the bottle before pouring.
I long for glass bottles of milk.
And Foodzie is another tiny step in supporting small businesses that function like the northern Ohio dairy.
If you have any experience purchasing from Foodzie, let the rest of us know your personal review!
I should add - especially with Salvation Army bellringers just around the corner - that this post is meant in the spirit of luxury, and not every-day treats; our nation's food banks are taxed to the limit, and my appreciation of fine cuisine does not ignore the need for basics and staples in your local food pantries. So if you need to purchase a pastor's Christmas gift, a hostess present, or a "thank-you" gesture, Foodzie might be a unique resource for you; but if you're looking for ways to reach out to your community, there are plenty of people thankful right now for a few cans of green beans. Both are appropriate in their contexts and seasons.