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15 Sauces from Around the World You Should Try

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From tangy barbecue to fiery Tabasco, Americans love their sauces. But if you’re looking for a slightly different way to dip, season, marinate, or just add some extra kick to your food, you owe it to yourself to try one or more of these international selections.

1. PONZU

Imagine soy sauce with a citrus kick, and you’ve got the basic flavor of this Japanese staple. International markets carry it by the bottle, but try making it at home for a fresher, more flavorful take with Mark Bittman’s recipe. Use it as a salad dressing, as a meat marinade, or as a dipping sauce for seafood.

2. CHERMOULA

Parsley, cilantro, coriander, garlic and saffron are just a few ingredients that make up this pungent north African herb sauce. It’s traditionally served with grilled seafood, though it can also liven up lamb and other grilled meats, as well as roasted vegetables. Try this recipe from Serious Eats that adds in cayenne pepper and paprika.

3. PEBRE

Chileans always have this spicy spread on hand at barbecues, or asados. They particularly enjoy serving it over toasted bread, though it also goes well with meats, salads, empanadas—basically, anything that could use a little kick. The recipe varies by region, with cilantro, tomatoes and habanero peppers comprising the backbone of this chimichurri-like sauce.

4. SAMBAL

Sriracha fans should try this Indonesian favorite that combines peppers, herbs, citrus, and fish sauce. Traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, it’s chunkier and less acidic than many southeast Asian hot sauces while still packing a mean punch.

5. MOLHO APIMENTADO

Brazilians enjoy this versatile sauce as a marinade, as a seasoning, and as a dip for vegetables and grilled meats. It’s known as a hot sauce, but you can vary the heat to your liking while still retaining the fresh, flavorful taste. Try it with a hearts of palm salad and a New Orleans twist courtesy of Chef Emeril Lagasse.

6. TKEMALI

This plum sauce is the equivalent of ketchup for many Georgians (the country, not the state). Sour and tangy—The Kitchn calls it “a cross between ketchup and chutney”—it’s often served with potato dishes and meats, and mixed in with stews. The flavor profile varies based on the ripeness of the plums being used, from tart green plums to milder red ones.

7. GOCHUJANG

This complex hot sauce from South Korea combines chilis, fermented soybeans and sticky rice. It’s too thick and potent to use as a finishing sauce like Sriracha, but it’s perfect for cooking. Try adding it to miso soup or using it to coat grilled or fried vegetables.

8. BAJAN PEPPER SAUCE

Visitors to Barbados often try this hot sauce and swear off the likes of Tabasco forever. Locals covet it, as well. Made from mustard, vinegar and a Caribbean pepper known as the Scotch bonnet, it’s best used on meat and seafood. Try making your own or, if you’re low on Caribbean peppers, order a jar of Lottie’s.

9. CHAKALAKA

Often referred to as a spicy relish, this colorfully named South African staple began in the country’s townships, where residents combined basic ingredients like beans, onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Thick and flavorful, it works well as a side dish (think coleslaw) or as a topping for grilled bread and meat.

10. SHREWSBURY SAUCE

The English know how to do savory, and this sauce, made with redcurrant jelly, butter, flour, and red wine, is a great accompaniment for any pot roast, rack of lamb or pork dish. British chef Delia Smith has a spot-on recipe that adds in mustard powder and Worcestershire sauce. Pour it over meat like gravy, and tuck in.

11. HAYDARI

Lots of people know about Greek tzatziki, but not as many are familiar with haydari, a yogurt-based sauce that’s popular in neighboring Turkey. Made with parsley, mint, olive oil, and Greek yogurt, it's great as an appetizer served over crackers or toast, or as an accompaniment to grilled fish.

12. AGRODOLCE

Italy is renowned for its ragus and marinara sauce. Flying under the radar, though, are old-world recipes like agrodolce that show a different side of the tomato-rich country. Its name translates to “sour sweet,” and that’s exactly what you get with a sticky sauce that combines sugar and balsamic vinegar. Try it as a glaze next time you make pork chops, and don’t be afraid to customize it with fruits, spices, and other ingredients.

13. CORIANDER CHUTNEY

This chutney is a staple in many Indian households, where it often accompanies snacks like samosas and pakoras. Try it as a dipping sauce, or as a spread for a veggie sandwich. It’s easy to make, and has a refreshing, mild spice profile.

14. NAM JIM JAEW

There are many different Thai dipping sauces, but this one stands out for its sharp, smoky flavor. Dried chili powder and toasted rice powder are the key ingredients, along with lime juice, fish sauce and a few choice herbs. Mix everything together and serve it in a small bowl alongside just about any grilled meat.

15. GUASACACA

This Venezuelan avocado salsa has a rich, earthy flavor that goes well with everything from tacos to salads to grilled steak. It’s naturally mild, but can be spiced up by adding peppers or hot sauce to the mix. Best of all: It’s simple to make. Follow Chef George Duran’s recipe, which calls for rough-chopped onion, cilantro, green peppers and avocados thrown into a blender along with some olive oil and garlic. Just push the button, and voila!

All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise noted.

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Food
11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic
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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it's China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC'S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC'S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC'S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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Big Questions
Why Is a Pineapple Called a Pineapple?
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by James Hunt

Ask an English-speaking person whether they've heard of a pineapple, and you'll probably receive little more than a puzzled look. Surely, every schoolchild has heard of this distinctive tropical fruit—if not in its capacity as produce, then as a dessert ring, or smoothie ingredient, or essential component of a Hawaiian pizza.

But ask an English-speaking person if they've ever heard of the ananas fruit and you'll probably get similarly puzzled looks, but for the opposite reason. The average English speaker has no clue what an ananas is—even though it's the name given to the pineapple in almost every other major global language.

In Arabic, German, French, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Swedish, Turkish—even in Latin and Esperanto—the pineapple is known as an ananas, give or take local variations in the alphabet and accents. In the languages where it isn't, it's often because the word has been imported from English, such as in the case of the Japanese パイナップル (painappuru) and the Welsh pinafel.

So how is it that English managed to pick the wrong side in this fight so spectacularly? Would not a pineapple, by any other name, taste as weird and tingly?

To figure out where things went wrong for English as a language, we have to go back and look at how Europeans first encountered the fruit in question, which is native to South America. It was first catalogued by Columbus's expedition to Guadeloupe in 1493, and they called it piña de Indes, meaning "pine of the Indians"—not because the plant resembled a pine tree (it doesn't) but because they thought the fruit looked like a pine cone (umm, ... it still doesn't. But you can sort of see it.)

Columbus was on a Spanish mission and, dutifully, the Spanish still use the shortened form piñas to describe the fruit. But almost every other European language (including Portuguese, Columbus's native tongue) decided to stick with the name given to the fruit by the indigenous Tupí people of South America: ananas, which means "excellent fruit."

According to etymological sources, the English word pineapple was first applied to the fruit in 1664, but that didn't end the great pineapple versus ananas debate. Even as late as the 19th century, there are examples of both forms in concurrent use within the English language; for example, in the title of Thomas Baldwin's Short Practical Directions For The Culture Of The Ananas; Or Pine Apple Plant, which was published in 1813.

So given that we knew what both words meant, why didn't English speakers just let go of this illogical and unhelpful linguistic distinction? The ultimate reason may be: We just think our own language is better than everyone else's.

You see, pineapple was already an English word before it was applied to the fruit. First used in 1398, it was originally used to describe what we now call pine cones. Hilariously, the term pine cones wasn't recorded until 1694, suggesting that the application of pineapple to the ananas fruit probably meant that people had to find an alternative to avoid confusion. And while ananas hung around on the periphery of the language for a time, when given a choice between using a local word and a foreign, imported one, the English went with the former so often that the latter essentially died out.

Of course, it's not too late to change our minds. If you want to ask for ananas the next time you order a pizza, give it a try (though we can't say what you'd up with as a result).

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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