[Sca-cooks] OOP: Fennel Pollen

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sat Oct 20 10:02:41 PDT 2007

On Oct 20, 2007, at 12:20 PM, Lilinah wrote:

> OK, OK, i give up! What's with the current fennel pollen fad in hip
> fancy restaurants? I haven't eaten any yet, but i' wondering...
> I will confess that i don't like the flavor of fennel seeds, but
> y'all probably knew that 'cuz of my feelings for (or rather against)
> anise seeds - I don't mind fennel bulb, though.
> And i've eaten unspecified bee pollen as a health food - it was
> pleasant and interesting.
> But what's up with fennel pollen fad?

There's some stuff about this in Bill Buford's book, "Heat", which is  
about his quest, as a writer, to learn to cook by apprenticeships to  
various "quintessential" artists and entrepreneurs in the different  
culinary sub-fields. In his section involving Mario Batali in New  
York, he quotes Batali on the aforementioned fennel pollen fad as  
being created/promoted by a specific food writer (I don't remember  
her name or have the book in front of me) who essentially smuggled a  
bunch of it out of Italy or France in her luggage, then proceeded to  
write about it as "the next big thing", which, wonder of wonders, it  
proceeded to become.

Think of it as culinary insider trading. It's why I've never liked  
Molly O'Neill, former NY Times food editor: in addition to being the  
sister of Paul O'Neill, late of the New York Yankees, which should be  
reason enough for any rational being to dislike her, she never  
identified trends; she seemed to merely make them up and establish/ 
promote them in her capacity as a food writer. But as I say, the  
fennel pollen thing was someone else doing something similar, and I'm  
sure having a kilo of the stuff in a suitcase was not a consideration  
in all this.

As for the pollen itself, it is alleged to have a rich, essential  
fennel aroma and flavor with a different color and texture from using  
ground seeds or chopped fronds, and a little apparently goes a very  
long way. It's sort of like saffron, I gather, in the way it is used.  
I also wonder what all this is doing to the wild fennel population  
worldwide, but I suppose environmentalists have bigger worries at the  


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