Monday, October 28, 2013

Crunchy or creamy?

I've always loved and eaten a lot of peanut butter.  A fair chunk of my life has been fueled solely by peanut butter and bananas.  I've enjoyed peanut butter in many other combinations as well, including but not limited to, vanilla ice cream and peanut butter, apples and peanut butter, on pancakes with chocolate syrup, crackers with peanut butter, and of course peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  Yum.  Most of my friends and family are aware of my delight with peanut butter and one time a co-worker made me an enormous banana cake with the most ridiculously awesome peanut butter frosting.  That is truly the best cake I've ever had.  The cake stars aligned for that cake and I will not forget as long as I live.

In most of my life, peanut butter likely tops the list as the number one nut butter I've consumed in my life.  However, when I lived in LA and my dietary tendencies changed significantly, I began to explore different nut butters, mostly almond butter.  Oh, sweet, raw, organic almond butter!  Is there any better butter than that of the almond?  I squandered away a small fortune  on almond butter during my days in Los Angeles.  I was addicted and ate it daily on fresh organic medjool dates.  Almond butter and dates are responsible for quenching my sweet tooth on a daily basis during certain times in my life. 

But being a pricy nut butter I found myself not wanting to have a $60/month almond butter habit, so I tried sunflower seed butter as an alternative.  Often called sun butter, this was a cheaper and very tasty version of nut butter.  Sun butter resembles peanut butter much more than almond butter, and is as unique in its own right.  I eat sun butter in any other way I would almond and peanut butter.  Sun butter with dates, fruit, chocolate, all of it.

There was this one time I delighted in pecan butter with fresh barhi dates and some fresh whipped cream.  This combination is nothing short of oral ecstasy.  The super sweet creamy and nutty pecan butter, topping a bed of caramel smooth barhi dates, then topped with the realest of the real Amish whipped cream.  Oooooo wee!  I nearly weep as I recall the deliciousness.  Perhaps I've tried cashew butter a time or two, I can't remember.  I don't think I've ever had macadamia butter, but I'd be the first in line if it even exists.

There is another side to this nut butter lifestyle.  Being a barber without borders, I have suffered many times overseas, because nut butters of all forms are a very American thing.  Hard to believe that the world is not obsessed with this most perfect form by which to consume nuts.  They are nearly impossible to find in any high quality in other countries.  My first discovery of this was of course during my first long period of time overseas, in Egypt.  The peanut butter I found there was waxy and half flavorless compared to the natural peanut butter I was used to at home.  This absence of peanut butter in Egypt was eye opening to me as a new world traveler, and it was something I am still adjusting to every time I go away from USA. 

Not even the British understand, and of course the Aussies are obsessed with Veggiemite.  Latinos think we're nuts, no pun intended. Perhaps Canadians are the only ones who get it, but of all the nut butter lovers I've ever known, we are all American born and raised.  When I was living in Buenos Aires earlier this year, I made close friends with an American vegan chef(I love you Kara), who has a local delivery service company for her food.  Argentina has some access to decent peanut butters and in Buenos Aires I would make the trek across town to an area aptly named "China Town" where there is a market that has quite a good selection of peanut butters.  There is even a small expat-owned company that delivers the real deal peanut butter to one's home.  Likely this has to do with the size and population of Buenos Aires compared to other places I've traveled and lived, but I was thrilled at the various choices.   Kara, on the other hand, offered almond butter as one of her menu items and that was all I needed to know I would do anything to keep this woman in my life.  I won't give away the recipe, but this almond butter was like nothing else. Though radically different than anything I had imagined, it was almond butter and it was unbelievable to have found it at the end of the earth.  Kara was more than just a fantastic friend, she was also the angel and savior of my dietary  and cultural needs.

Every time I return to the States from a long time away, my first trip to the store requires a purchase of any and all forms of nut butter.  I love the stuff, it's got to be one of my top five favorite foods of all time, forever and ever.  Nice that it's a food I will still be able to eat even when I'm a toothless old lady.  I shall take a jar to the grave with me.  Good and good for you, nut butter significantly increases the quality of one's life!  And since I'm sure you have asked yourself by now during my love letter to nut butter, I prefer crunchy.

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