Archive for ‘PB&J’

July 26th, 2011

PB & J 3

Most of my Japanese friends love American culture with one glaring exception: PB&J.  Whenever I mention that my favorite snack is celery with peanut butter, I’m greeted with the comment that I’m way too Americanized.  They are probably right about that. But regaining my Japanese identity is as easy as grossing out my anti-fish loving husband by eating dried anchovies as a snack.

The variations on the traditional PB&J would confuse my friends even more.  Mendocino Farms, a gourmet sandwich shop in Los Angeles, offers a Bacon & Housemade Peanut Butter Sandwich on grilled panini.  Based on its price of $8.75, I’d have to say that this is one of the more sophisticated versions of this sandwich that I’ve encountered.  Along with applewood smoked bacon & homemade PB, it has caramelized bananas, crushed honey roasted almonds and green apples.  I actually do love this sandwich, mostly because I love the bacon, whose saltiness paired with the sweetness of the banana compliment the rather bland PB.  Maybe if I start out by stating that PB&J with bacon was Elvis’ favorite, I might get a few of my Japanese friends to take a bite.

PB&J has come a long way from the kid’s sandwich of choice.  There are PB&J ice creams, donuts, and cookies, but a PB&J burger?  Sounds strange, but what could be more American than combining these two signature classics?  It would never happen, you say? Apparently, you’ve never been to Mo’s restaurant in Burbank where the “Foggybottom Burger” sits prominently on the menu.  At first, it seems like a traditional burger with its nicely cooked patty and fresh buns, but the addition of peanut butter and sour plum jam set it apart from the rest.

When you assemble these ingredients and take your first bite, you taste nothing but the peanut butter, however, by adding sliced pickles, somehow it works (surprisingly).   Our waiter said all his customers are skeptical before they order, but once they’ve tried it, his feedback is 100% positive.  Love it or hate it, it’s an experience, to say the least.

While the thought would surely turn off the typical Japanese palate, it’s worth a try.  After all, turnabout is fair play: to most Americans, the thought of eating raw fish seemed crazy thirty years ago, and today, there’s a sushi restaurant on virtually every corner of Main Street U.S.A.

June 30th, 2011

PB & J 2

In an attempt to sneak in tofu into my husband’s diet, I rely on my secret weapon, “tofu bread” from the Japanese grocery store.  For those anti tofu texture/flavor folks, don’t worry, this tofu bread is actually really good.  You won’t notice it’s actually made with tofu unless you see the package.  With or without tofu, if you haven’t tried Japanese sandwich bread, I recommend you try some soon. The slices are bigger, softer and bit sweeter than the typical American brands, like wonder bread (but, unfortunately with a shorter shelf life).  You can generally get similar styles at Chinese or Korean bakeries, as well.   Japanese bread is one of the very few things my husband actually enjoys.  He survives our Japan trips by hitting the bakeries stocking up with 2 baguettes that he parcels out throughout the day.

PB & J is actually a popular dish in the breakfast rotation at our house.  I make it using the tofu bread and freshly ground almond butter. Instead of jelly, I use banana and honey.

1) Spread almond butter and sliced bananas2) Drizzle honey or maple syrup3) voila!My husband says PB & J needs to be cut into squares (cut into 4 pieces), it makes sense considering this is typical children’s meal.

June 28th, 2011

PB & J

When a Parisian can order “Le Big-Mac” on the Champs-Elysées or a typical Japanese businessman can grab a bagel in a Tokyo subway station, it’s pretty easy to see that for good or bad, American food has quickly conquered the world.  However, there is still one American staple that still hasn’t reached the international kitchen: the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  This traditional combination is virtually unknown outside of the U.S., and to add a personal insult to its anonymity, my Japanese best friend actually thinks it’s gross.

The PB of PB&J fame, was introduced to the general public at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, and it found its mate during World War II, thanks to soldiers in need of a cheap and easy source of good protein, but since then, has taken on a life of its own.  PB was introduced to me by another picky eater in my life… my mother.  She is as picky as my husband.  Although Asians live on carbs, my mother doesn’t like rice, pasta, bread…   I’ll talk about my mother issue at some other time.  But I actually grew up with peanut butter (Skippy, no Jif in Japan).

Back in 1998, when I was working in Greenwich Village, NYC, a store called Peanut Butter and Co. opened. If you think the store’s name would limit its offerings, you’d be mistaken, as they’ve somehow managed to concoct an amazing array of peanut butter, along with every variation of PB&J sandwich and dessert imaginable!  You won’t find this in Japan, or not many places in the United State either!

When I visited there recently on a weekday afternoon, a family of 4 was sharing a creation aptly titled, “Death by Peanut Butter Sundae,” which is NOT intended for the sugar substitute crowd as it consists of 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream, peanut butter sauce, peanut butter chips, Reese’s Pieces, peanut butter Cap n’ Crunch cereal and is topped off with whipped cream.  It tastes exactly how you might imagine–VERY peanut buttery and VERY sweet.

Although basically a simple offering, the PB & J has been evolving since Elvis was forced to switch to a larger sized stage suit from his addition of  bacon and banana to the equation.   But that’s to be continued…