Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Different Kind of Food Challenge

One of the challenges I face every so often, because of all my moving around, is finding certain items I could find easily in some other place that I lived.  For example, buying salsa in California was never much of a challenge.  However, in Washington State people seem to love sweet and fruity salsas.  I may not go for the really spicy stuff, but I do not want peach or mango or sweetness at all in my salsa.  The worst part is that I keep forgetting that I can't just pick up a new salsa to try and trust that it won't be fruit-flavored.  Even if it doesn't say on the packaging that it's sweet, it usually is.

The biggest challenge when it comes to finding food that I've enjoyed can mostly be blamed on my time at Whole Foods Market in California.  As an administrative assistant, way back when, Way back when, I took care of all the vendor samples that came in.  And while it is fantastic to see that brands like Sukhi's Gourmet Indian Food and Laura's Wholesome Junk Food are doing so well, there are some things I fell in love with but could never find again.

I thought of two of those items today and decided to at least try to find them online.  The first was an apple-basil jelly that was divine on buttered toast.  All I could remember was that there were three women on the label.  I tried "Three Sisters," "apple basil butter" and "apple basil jam."  The simple search for "apple basil jelly" finally led me to The Prairie Gypsies.  And here is why you have to do the searching yourself - I recognized the shape of the jar and color of the label immediately.  I'd hate to spend $7 plus shipping on a jar of this stuff, but now that I know it's out there, for some reason I feel better.  Maybe someday I'll get some kind of bonus check on splurge on a few jars of it.

My second search was not quite as successful.  I think the brand may have been Don was definitely Don-something.  The product was semi-sundried tomatoes in oil.  The semi part is very important here - these tasted like no other dried tomatoes I'd ever had.  A slight sweetness and just a bit juicy.  My mom and I drooled over these, and finished off a jar together, many years ago.  I did find something close at ItalFoods, pomodorracio semi sundried tomato strips in oil.  Dean and Deluca has a similar product, though I'm not willing to spend $19 on a jar (not surprising for D and D, of course), and theirs are a specific variety of tomatoes I've never heard of.  Who knows, they could be better, but then I'd be addicted to something I really can't afford, so it's best not to look twice.

Still, this has me thinking about favorite things from long ago that I could easily find again with just a bit of online research.  Finding them in a local store (so I don't have to pay shipping) would be even better, but you have to start with the basics.  Knowing the correct name of the brand is definitely required.

So what about you?  Do you have any long-lost food loves that you fear may not be around anymore?  Or any that you know were discontinued?  If you haven't already checked, there is a site called Hometown Favorites that has a long list of disco'ed items on it.  In fact, my favorite marinara sauce (by Progresso) is on that list.  It's a good thing I know how to make my own now, lest my heart be permanently broken.


  1. I have a few, as does hubby. Some have come back - like the new Simply Heinz that is the old-style ketchup with sugar instead of HFCS. Some I will never have again, like pastrami from the Stage Deli which closed. And some just changed formulas, like Wolf Brand Chili.

    1. I hate the changed formula one - I keep thinking that THIS TIME it'll taste like I remember, until finally I look it up and realize it will NEVER taste that way again. But eateries that are no longer near me or no longer exist are a bit of heartache, as well. I miss the taste of Sargam Indian Cuisine in Walnut Creek, CA, but I know I can go there the next time I visit. Whereas I have no reason to visit Tir Na Nog in Raleigh, NC, ever again, despite the awesome Scotch Eggs. And the Japanese place in Santa Barbara, where I originally fell in love with gyoza, changed management years ago and the gyoza were never the same. Still makes me sad.


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