When my sister in law came to visit a couple weeks ago, my husband and I were both ecstatic to receive a gift of a giant jar of peanut butter. While one can get peanut butter here, it is pretty darn expensive and, well, there is nutella instead So the very first oh-so-elegant dish that we made with our new treasure? It was totally “ants-on-a log”. You may or may not know of this snack, the last time I was actually served it I was probably in about first grade. Take a stick of celery, fill it with peanut butter, and line it with rasins. I know it sounds odd, but it’s quite satisfying.
So what was our next peanut butter adventure after we’d grown up from “ants on a log”? Making another that is a symbol of home, the buckeye. A buckeye is actually a tree, which produces nuts that look very much like this dessert (hence the name). Making buckeyes couldn’t be easier – combine equal parts peanut butter & powdered sugar, roll into truffles, and dip almost completely in chocolate. Yep, that’s it! And with another great gift of some semi-sweet chocolate chips (why can’t I find chocolate chips here?), our treat was perfect
It’s funny how much we have gravitated towards comfort foods and flavors since moving abroad. I figured that we would be reaching out more to try new cuisines, and increasingly we find ourselves preparing the familiar. I think in a way our cooking has become a psychological outlet for dealing with being thousands of miles away from virtually everyone that we know. While we love living in a new country and learning how to live in a society with many many differences from what we are used to, and being able to visit mountains and other countries in just a mere weekend getaway, I think we are still constantly seeking something we can recognize to make a bit of a home for ourselves. And with so many things in life, home begins with food.
A couple weekends ago, we took one of these weekend getaway trips, to Beaune, France, a completely enchanting city that captured the hearts of us instantly. A very old city, full of mesmerizing texture everywhere. Though we did get a laugh out of one small aspect of our trip – both my husband and I found it highly amusing that our hotel served an “American” breakfast in the morning. It’s funny because in the States, every hotel serves a “Continental” breakfast which undoubtedly consists of hardly any continental foods – muffins, doughnuts, some fruit, some American-style coffee, etc. And likewise, our “American” breakfast was anything but – aged meats & cheese, croissants and brioches, espresso, meusli, and fruit. To me, that’s about as continental as you can get!
And thus, I felt compelled to make a “Euro” version of our buckeyes, with the great European counterpart to peanut butter, nutella. I combined equal parts powdered sugar and nutella and rolled them into truffles,and then rolled them in crushed hazelnuts. It seemed only fitting to make a continental version of a favorite comforting and very American dessert – maybe over time we will grow away from our familiar comforts, and create our own new ones, blending the well-known and familiar with the yet to be explored. But for now, I am content with my peanut butter, and my nutella.