Stuff We've Learned to Like
Some of the things we love about living and eating in the Hudson Valley: Every season brings new culinary discoveries.
IT MAY BE HARD TO BELIEVE, but in the early twentieth century, the Hudson River once was filled with oyster beds. Oysters were served in fine restaurants, oyster cellars, and from street vendors (alongside hot corn, peanuts and chestnuts). Until 1910, there were 350 square miles of oyster beds in the lower Hudson estuary—New York Harbor, in fact, was home to half the world’s commercial oysters. By the 1920s, the oyster beds had been destroyed by pollution, overharvesting and disease. Today, most New York oysters (Bluepoints) come from Long Island Sound, but some naturalists have built artificial reefs in the Hudson and Bronx rivers for creating new oyster beds. Who knows—maybe some day we’ll be able to call oysters “local,” too. A dozen Whitestones, anyone?
More than a condiment but less than a stand-alone dish, kimchi is a staple of the Korean diet. Most Koreans eat kimchi at least twice a day, providing the same (some say better) health benefits as dairy. The blend of spicy, fermented vegetables (traditionally Napa cabbage, onions and garlic) is high in vitamins A and C and loaded with healthy probiotics. Its pungent, earthy smell makes it an acquired taste, but once acquired, it can be addictive.
This fizzy, funky health drink may look (and smell) intimidating, but don’t let that scare you. Kombucha, a mildly effervescent, fermented tea, has roots that extend back more than two millennia in the Far East. It has risen to “superfood” status for its reputed health benefits (though there is no clinical evidence supporting the claim).