Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 11th 2013 Contents A45
Saturday, May 11, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
calcium and riboflavin. Under the
Mexican ruler, Moctezuma, corn
became a symbol of life and fertility
and was offered to the gods as sac-
rifice," explains chef Thomasina
Meyers who specialises in Mexican
Popcorn became a popular
modern snack by accident after
the first popcorn machine was
invented, says Dan Wiggs, pub-
lisher of 30 Perfect Popcorn
Recipes."A man called Charles
Cretors made it by mistake, in
1885... he invented a peanut roaster
and was trying to sell it to other
shops, so he added a steam engine
to improve it, and found it popped
popcorn at the same time," he says.
American consumers and retail-
ers were quick to embrace the
cheap, fibre-rich food. But what
was a healthy snack evolved into
something mostly laden with sugar,
salt and fat.
But the list of ingredients that
can be added to popcorn is almost
"When we first started it was
all about the caramel," says London
popcorn maker Adam Sopher, who
together with his father Joe
launched family gourmet popcorn
business, Joe & Seph s in 2011,
originally with six flavours.
"We sourced a goat s cheese
from France, and a blue cheese
from Auvergne, both of these
flavours are phenomenal," says
They now offer 30 flavours
including toffee apple and cinna-
mon, peanut satay, and a blend of
cheddar cheese and smoked papri-
ka.But where do they get their
"We get lots of suggestions from
people saying you should make
this or that, but I ll get a phone
call in the middle of the night, or
a text and it s dad saying I ve had
a great idea , and then one from
mum saying he is downstairs in
the kitchen trying things out and
banging pots and pans around ,"
"Then the way we do it is always
take three or four new ones, go to
a food show, test them out, watch
and see what people say, before
choosing one to produce."
Crispy bacon and maple syrup
is an example of the American food
flavours which have inspired
Portlebay Popcorn from Devon,
England whose founder Jonty
White sees popcorn as an appeal-
ing, alternative to crisps.
"It takes flavour better than
crisps, is high in antioxidants, high
in fibre, and as a snack you don t
need to eat so much," he explains.
"We didn t want to stick a crisp
flavour on popcorn, our product
needed its own flavours. So we do
applewood smoked cheddar, and
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a chilli and lime... a very strong flavour
"Wasabi and sweet ginger, is right
at the forefront of people s minds, it s
very trendy and I love it. And it is
green---it has to be," he says.
Portlebay draws its inspiration from
the kettle corn originally sold at country
fairs in America in the 18th Century,
made in front of customers in a cast
iron "kettle" with a mixture of sugar,
oil and salt to give it crunch.
The quality of the corn is also impor-
tant. There are two types of corn used
to make popcorn "a mushroom and a
butterfly, which has wings which can
fall off," says Adam Sopher.
Whether you prefer air-popped or
oil-popped, you can try out unique
flavours at home too. It can be as
healthy (or as unhealthy) as you want
and homemade can be significantly
"I love it, my kids love it," says food
author Dan Wiggs. "It s getting very
expensive but it doesn t need to be.
You can make it with things in your
larder and it can last two or three days
if stored in an airtight box."
Dan Wiggs recommends using
wasabi powder, salt and dried sea-
weed---shaken with popcorn in a bag,
and the result is zingy green wasabi
Wetter ingredients such as chocolate
sauce or oils---foods with a fat con-
tent---can also be turned into powder
by using a starch substance called tapi-
oca maltodextrin, popular in modernist
"Our caramel is made using butter
and sugar and then the corn, corn syrup
and all apple, cinnamon, hazelnut etc
is added, " says Adam Sopher.
"We coat each piece properly and
it s a very manual process to cool the
popcorn, play with it by hand and sift
out all the young kernels."
Jonty White says: "The popcorn
enters a drum where the seasoning is
added and the two are tumbled togeth-
"We use whey powder to carry the
flavour onto the popcorn---the only way
to get an even coverage.
"In simple terms the product, say
bacon, is concentrated by simple reduc-
tion, and then spray dried to make a
powder (the same way milk is turned
into a powder)," he explains.
While popcorn has an enduring
appeal to a younger generation, it seems
it has finally grown up.
"My 12-year-old was a great inspi-
ration. But we want to show it can be
different, it can be fun and it can be
delicious," says Jonty White.
Pop some smoked cheddar and ginger
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