Updated: Feb 4
Five Ways To Heal Thyself and Explore the World with Probiotics
The usual suspects on a probiotic menu get a lot of press. Yogurt, Kimchi (aka pickled cabbage), sauerkraut (more pickled cabbage), kefir (more yogurt, sort of) and the almighty pickle itself (as long as it's pickled in salt water, not vinegar). All healthy additions to your diet and your intestinal tract which, thanks to modern fast food and funky additives, needs all the help it can get. But eating proactively need not force you to choose from a probiotic equivalent of bread and water. Every cuisine on Earth has its own tasty takes on probiotic foods. Here are a mere five to start with:
1. Dilly Beans. Sounds quaint and exotic. Something a hobbit would eat. "And Master Bilbo sat down to his midday snack of crusty brown bread and dilly beans." Actually, they hail not from Middle Earth but from down-to-earth Vermont — pickled greens seasoned with garlic, black peppercorns and dill seeds, hence the name "dilly." For those who like to push their taste buds to the edge, add red chili flakes.
2. Gari. Japanese pickled ginger. The kind that comes with sushi. The pink variety is the best -- and the prettiest to look at, no small thing when it comes to enjoying food that is also a form of art. Contrary to Western customs, the proper way to eat gari is with chopsticks not fingers. And never attempt to cram it in your mouth along with an entire tuna roll. Very bad form. It's a palate cleanser not a condiment.
3. Roll mops. Not a cute and essentially worthless cleaning accessory, but German pickled herring wrapped around, what else, but a pickle. Two probiotic bites in one. Like so many things Germanic, it takes patience and attention to detail to make them at home, but the results are entirely worth it.
4. Giardiniera. That's a soft 'G' at the beginning which gives the name it's
sensuous Italian lilt. A relish of pickled bell peppers, carrots, celery, cauliflower, gherkins and just about any other vegetable you might want to throw in, marinated in red or white wine vinegar, bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves, salt and sugar. Spontaneous and life affirming, just like Italy.
5. Jujube. This one's literally from almost everywhere. South East Asia, Lebanon, India, Madagascar, Bulgaria, the Caribbean. The fruit resembles a small date and is served in too many ways to count: fresh, candied, as a syrup, in beverages, as a jam. Supposedly, it's easy to grown your own — the tree that is. But thanks to the Internet, you can buy it (minus the tree) from a variety of sources, though mainstream supermarket chains haven't gotten the clue quite yet.
Take it from there. Explore a world filled with new and different probiotic tastes. Eat well. Be well. Bon Appetit!