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Gypsy Food Is Hard to Pin Down

Is there a cuisine of the Gypsies, more properly known as Roma or Romani? ("Roma are one subset of the Romani people," says luckyfatima.)

"There are a couple of Gypsy cookbooks in print, but both have been criticized heavily for failing to enunciate a distinct Gypsy cuisine," says Perilagu Khan. "Is such an endeavor possible? ... Do we know of any dishes that have persisted among Gypsies down through the centuries and have been transported, almost without exception, to wherever Gypsies have put down roots?"

As part of their nomadic culture, Romani would have used locally available ingredients wherever they happened to be, rather than loyally purchased 'staples of any supposed Gypsy larder,'" says SusanaTheConqueress. "In other words, the cuisine of no cuisine of their own identity would be the identity of their cuisine."

This has implications for a certain preparation methods, though, at least. "Nomadic Roma have a style of cooking that is suited to nomadic life and is flexible and adaptable to the availability of a wide variety of ingredients," explains soupkitten. "Stews in which many different vegetables and/or meats and/or foraged herbs and mushrooms can be subbed in or out, bound by a black pepper or fried spice sauce would be one example."

"Being nomadic would probably mean having a totally different type of cuisine; I recall reading about things like roasted hedgehog and such—eating what was available for sustenance," says luckyfatima. "Since the vast majority of Roma are settled, the nomadic cuisine isn't necessarily relevant now."

Discuss: Is There a Gypsy (Roma) Cuisine?

Cash-Strapped Birthday Dinners

Cash-Strapped Birthday Dinners

How to party with your friends on the cheap. READ MORE

Hey McDonald’s, What’s Peddled Cheese?

McDonald's in Canada has launched a line of food tied in to the Vancouver Olympics. One of the new menu items is the Parmagiana Chicken Snack Wrap, described by the company as "real peddled parmesan cheese and savoury marinara sauce, all wrapped with seasoned crispy or grilled chicken in a flour tortilla."

"Apart from the fact that the whole concept is nonsensical (psuedo-Italian ingredients wrapped up in a ... tortilla? whatever), has anyone come across the term 'peddled' before in relation to parmesan?" asks dxs. "I can't find references to it anywhere."

"It is totally made up," says kayehm. "No such thing as peddled parmesan. McD's can not afford to put real parmesan in their food—so they made up something to make the fake (avec filler) parmesan sound more impressive."

"Perhaps Mr. Ronald McDonald purchased the aforementioned formaggio from a wizened old Italian peddler man," speculates adamshoe, while Sam Fujisaka says it's just "a polite way to say 'pimped' parmesan."

Discuss: Anyone heard of 'peddled parmesan cheese'??

Does a Chicken Lay Eggs Year-Round?

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Give a poor chicken a break. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

How Are Fresh Eggs Different?

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Let's count the ways. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

How to Get Fresh Eggs Clean

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Soap won't always do the trick. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

Chickens Need Calcium Too

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Feed them eggshells. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

What Makes a Good Chicken Coop?

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It's more than chicken wire. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

Does Supermarket Camembert Ripen?

PorkButt read that any Camembert cheese could benefit from a few days outside of the refrigerator, to ripen and improve in flavor. But would this apply to mass-market Camembert sold at supermarkets? PorkButt decided to see.

"An unheated part of my house ranged from the high 40s to mid 50s so I left it out wrapped in a paper towel and checked it day to day," says PorkButt. "After four days, the center had sagged a bit but the cheese still felt hard. I cut it open and while it didn't develop any creamy ooziness, the interior was definitely softer. The rind was harder and had to be cut away. Taste wise, maybe there was some improvement but I think that had mostly to do with the texture and temperature," says PorkButt. "My verdict is that mass-market Camembert is a dead product."

But, if you can get "non-industrial" Camembert in your area, it may indeed benefit from a bit of affinage.

Discuss: Supermarket Camembert affinage

Overheard on the General Topics Boards

"Tinned sardines have always been my invalid food, ever since I was a child. Dusted with flour and quickly fried. Or, even better, mashed with lots of pepper and malt vinegar as a sandwich filling." - Harters

"There's always some sort of legend or myth behind the origin of a dish (even something as common as Cantonese dry-fried beef chow fun which was created out of desperation), it makes the food a lot more interesting." - K K

"Dialing-in the right amount of fat and cooking the meat to a preferred doneness is what separates us from the apes." - steve h.