Carob chews 790 xxx
photo by george billard

6.15.10 Chew On This

Growing up in Santa Cruz, still a hippie mecca to this day, I was exposed early on to all manner of what used to be known as "health foods"—sprouts, carob, smoothies, kefir, whole grain sourdough bread. Maybe that's why I still enjoy trawling about crunchy food co-ops, peering at bags of sesame sticks, bins of millet and containers of powdered spirulina. There is almost always an assortment of carob-covered items (raisins, almonds, ginger) and sometimes these little nuggets, studded with lots of goodies. I love carob's dark, earthy richness; its mild bitterness and distinct winey taste hold up to chocolate's complexity. Carob is a species of flowering evergreen tree in the pea family that is cultivated for its edible seed pods, which are also known as "St. John's bread" because John the Baptist was said to have subsisted on them in the wilderness. Supposedly they also fed Mohammed's armies. The pod can be elongated, compressed, straight or curved and takes a full year to develop and ripen. It is the dried and sometimes roasted pod that we eat, and not the peas or seeds inside. These are called locust beans and are used for animal feed or as the source of locust bean gum, a thickening agent that is an ingredient in many  processed foods.
Tagged — carob chews