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Unexpected ethnic flavors spice up Fancy Foods show

At times referred to as the cheese, chocolate and olive oil show, this year’s Fancy Foods show did not disappoint with big players—France and Italy—rolling out their best decadences—many, also organic. While one could leave completely sated discovering new products from familiar destinations, the real highlight for me was the host of smaller countries (some who made this year their Fancy Foods debut) who also came prepared to impress with many natural products.

Argan Oil
Consider argan oil Morroco’s olive oil with a terrifically nutty punch. After one taste, it made my must-stock list not only for its flavor but also health benefits. Derived from nuts from the argan tree which is native to Morocco and used there in beauty products as well as for cooking, the oil is exceptionally rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids and more resistant to oxidation than olive oil.

Danielle’s golden durian chips
If you’re going to eat durian, also known as the “stinky fruit,” this is the way to do it. Danielle has come up with an entirely new preservation method, "vacuum frying," to maintain the nutrient and flavor integrity of fruits and veggies grown in the co-founder’s native Taiwan. Similar in texture to freeze-dried fruits, durian chips come with all the vitamin C and potassium as the real deal without that weird gym sock smell.

The Roger’s Collection’s marmalades and jams
Strawberry and apricot jam don’t sound particularly exotic until you take your taste buds to Tunisia. Whole pieces of fruit, just enough sugar and a little lemon combine for a preserve so fresh it tastes like something from out of grandma’s kitchen. After my first spoonful, I found myself looking back at the jar to figure out just how they did it—ah, clean ingredients.

Mi Conserva’s escalivada
This classic Catalan dish often in Spain paired with grilled meat, in my opinion really deserves to stand alone. Simple ingredients (roasted red pepper, eggplant, olive oil and salt) deliver a surprisingly sweet, smooth flavor making the perfect light lunch with a crusty slice of bread.

Feta cheese
I thought the Greeks had this market covered until I checked out the Egyptian pavilion where I learned just how many fetas there are. Double-churned, low-salt and something called mesh, in Egypt the cheese is served at every meal. What I saw ranged in consistency from a spread, to a curd to the crumbly version we know in the States.

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