Raise your hand if you like online shopping. Oh, you bet my hand is raised. High, higher. And if your hand isn’t raised, if you’re loyal to the brick-and-mortar, we can still get along just fine because I’m devoted to that sort of shopping, too.
If you’re averse to shopping at all, things could still work out between us. You see, I could do your shopping for you, so you won’t have to. That’s how much I relish the activity.
But back to online shopping. It’s one of those blessing/curse situations, the reasons for which are ennumerated often enough. Today it was a blessing. Today, wild fennel pollen came into my life.
If you’re not yet turned on to the Zingerman’s specialty foods website, I suggest you to hightail it over there. Food by mail! What could be better than that, really? A word of disclosure, though, before you go: It’s obsession-fueling and time-consuming. Oh, and a goldmine for gifts.
Mostly, I just window shop. You know, pretend like I’m going to pick up a cultish olive oil. Make like I’m in the market for a wildly expensive — albeit authentically produced — cheese. But this time I had a coupon, along with an admonishment from a fellow food enthusiast to add fennel pollen to my spice roster.
Without an online marketplace, I’d be hard-pressed to locate nature’s little bonus gifts, novelties beyond tarragon or lemongrass. An online resource was my way into smoked paprika and grains of paradise (a hastened discovery of these ingredients was about the only worthwhile thing I got out of Amanda Hesser’s “Cooking for Mr. Latte”).
Fennel pollen, according to the fennel pollen people, is the “teeny tiny golden pollen” taken from wild fennel plants in Tuscany. Huh. All the way from Italy to fleck my late-summer risotto. Nice, it was. Gave it an other-worldly, “what is that?” extra something.
Do you have any secret ingredients up your sleeve? Do tell. I’m due for another shopping spree any day now.