ZePerfect Mardi Gras Celebration

ZeBot New Orleans Mardi Gras

If there’s one thing zebras love, it’s a celebration!

And when it’s Mardi Gras, which is all about local traditions, food, family and friends–well, that makes us so happy that our stripes start to turn colors.

Purple, green and gold, to be exact.
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ZePossibilities of Pumpkins

ZeBot's Pumpkin Patch Buddies

I just made ZeGreatest discovery! You know those orange spheres that are piling up in farmers’ markets and grocery stores? They’re pumpkins! Okay, you probably already knew this, but pumpkins are totally new to me. (Give me a break: I’m a zebra!)

I always figure the best way to find out about something you never knew existed is to do a little detective work. My favorite farmers, food historians and librarians were happy to help out. I even asked a couple of dogs, since if they like something, you KNOW it’s going to be cool.

My buddies Spot and Rover give pumpkins a BIG paws up!

My buddies Spot and Rover give pumpkins a BIG paws up!

I found out that pumpkins are members of the squash-and-gourd family (it’s always fun to have family, don’t you think?). Some people think pumpkins are vegetables, but they’re actually fruits. You can tell because fruits almost always have seeds on the inside (although berries like to be different and have them on the outside). If you’ve ever scooped the squishy guts out of a pumpkin, you know they have LOTS of seeds.

You might think from their bright orange color that pumpkins give you tons of energy — and you’d be right. They’re loaded with natural sweetness and awesome nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds are packed with good-for-you stuff like protein, B vitamins, iron and vitamin E.

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George Washington, ZeFarmer: Exploring ZeCulinary Gardens of Mount Vernon

ZeBot Poses at Mount Vernon

What do kids, zebras and George Washington have in common?

Lots of things!

Vision. Imagination. Ingenuity.

The joyful desire to explore new ideas and discover innovative ways to do things. The belief that anything is possible—and that you can have fun making it happen.

If you’re an American kid, you already know that George Washington was the very first president of the United States.

But did you know he was also called America’s “foremost farmer”?

ZeBot Visionary Farmer

It makes sense, because both being president and a farmer have a lot to do with planting, growing and harvesting—whether you’re talking about seeds or ideas.

George Washington was as innovative and visionary at farming and horticulture as he was at helping to create a country. When he wasn’t busy being president, his primary occupation was being a farmer.

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ZeFamily Legacy of Brioche Pasquier

ZeBot & ZoeBot Have Breakfast at Brioche Pasquier“When someone shares a special family recipe with you, you become part of their family.”

That’s what my friend Hugues Pasquier told me when we shared a breakfast made with the brioche his family has been baking from the same recipe since 1936.

It was true: as my cousin ZoeBot and I savored each buttery golden bite, we felt the Pasquier family’s culinary heritage deep in our stripes.

If you’re an average American kid (or zebra), you may not have ever tried brioche. But in France, kids (and a few lucky zebras) have been eating brioche their whole lives.

Brioche (pronounced bree-oshe) is a French bakery specialty that looks and tastes like a magical cross between a bread and a cake.

Brioche by Chardin, 1763

Food historians say that’s it been a tradition since medieval times, with the recipe becoming richer with butter and eggs as the centuries passed.

Hugues told us that his grandfather Gabriel Pasquier was legendary for the brioche he crafted at his bakery in the tiny village of Les Cerqueux in France’s Loire River Valley.

Gabriel's Bakery

Gabriel’s recipe was unique because he always used two very special ingredients.

One was the family’s own levain, which is a natural sourdough starter that makes brioche (and other baked goods) rise. A starter works pretty much the same way modern yeast does, but it’s an older and more traditional way to leaven baked goods. Continue reading

Grace Young & ZeYear of the Zebra

ZeYear of the Zebra

According to an old zebra saying,  friends can make your day—but my friend Grace just made my whole year!

It happened while we were talking about the Chinese New Year—a magical holiday time that falls between mid-January and late-February on the Western (solar) calendar.

Grace with the Ultimate Wok & a Zebra!

Meet Grace, “Poet Laureate of the Wok, Stir-Fry Guru & Wok Evangelist”!


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SoFAB Encounters of ZeVintage Kind

ZeBot Vintage Bottle Thumbnail

Exploring the world’s culinary curiosities is what zebras love best.

So when my friend Liz Williams, president of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB), invited me to help her with a very important mission, I zoomed across the country faster than you can say “stripes!”

Our meeting place: Crownsville, Maryland. Our mission: to help wrap and box a collection of 2000 beautiful bottles that had been donated to SoFAB by some super-nice humans. After that, Liz and her husband Rick Normand would personally drive the bottles all the way back to the museum, which is in New Orleans (a city famous for its amazing food and beverages).

On a rainy summer afternoon, I gathered with Liz, Rick, and our cooking teacher buddy Sheila Crye at the home of Don and Elaine Fosler. Elaine’s son, David Jones, was our guide — he led us to the special room that had been the home of the bottle collection for decades.

Think this is a lot of bottles? Imagine a WHOLE ROOM filled with cases like this!

Think this is a lot of bottles? Imagine a WHOLE ROOM filled with cases like this!

I wasn’t totally clear on exactly what used to be inside these bottles, since zebras don’t exactly have a lot do with bottles in our ordinary lives. I think it was a potion or something – sort of like in the Harry Potter stories.

For me, the fascination was in the bottles themselves. Liz told me that for humans, an important part of learning about anything is understanding its history and culture (that means society in general). She said the vessels that hold foods and beverages can have as much cultural and historical significance as what’s inside.

I had a great time exploring California history with Father Junípero Serra.

I had a great time exploring California history with Father Junípero Serra.

A vessel can reveal a lot, Liz said. “Early vessels were made of animal skins, then ceramics, then glass. The material a vessel is made of tells us a lot about its place in history. Its shape can reveal its use – and how important the vessel was to the people who used it.”

So what were these bottles made of? Mostly ceramic and glass. And when were they made? The collection includes bottles that were crafted from 1919 to around 2002. Liz said this was especially cool, because the collector actually worked through two centuries – the 20th and 21st.

Another awesome thing: these artistic bottles looked like little statues of just about everything on the planet. There was even one in the shape of a zebra!

This rare striped bottle is my all-time favorite -- can you guess why?

This rare striped bottle is my all-time favorite — can you guess why?

I think there's something fishy about this bottle -- but I can't quite put my hoof on exactly what it is!

I think there’s something fishy about this bottle — but I can’t quite put my hoof on exactly what it is!

It was quite enlightening to discuss life on the savannah with a pair of noble lions.

It was quite enlightening to discuss life on the savannah with a pair of noble lions.

According to Liz, “As our technology advanced to make vessels in certain shapes or to write something important on the vessel, it allowed them to take on even greater meaning. These statue-like bottles are collectibles in their own right, commemorating places, people, creatures and events. They give us another way to record and appreciate history.”

Well, I’ll tell you one thing: carefully wrapping and boxing up thousands of historically important bottles for a museum definitely takes a while. Not light years exactly. But a pretty long time.

Who knew that vintage bottles could teach you all about the human legal system?

Who knew that vintage bottles could teach you all about the human legal system?

My next goal? To strike it rich by traveling back in time to the Gold Rush era!

My next goal? To strike it rich by traveling back in time to the Gold Rush era!

Send in the clowns -- and a zebra!

Send in the clowns — and a zebra!

 

Listening to music from different eras gets me really jazzed!

Listening to music from different eras gets me really jazzed!

As the rain drummed on the roof and trees danced in the summer wind, we listened to music from the eras when the bottles were made. Cole Porter. Buddy Holly. The Beatles. And lots more.

We took a break for pizza — and Liz told stories about SoFAB and all its exciting events and collections. If you want to read about them yourself, just visit the museum’s website.

After dinner, the humans got back to work–and so did I, after a quick nap to recharge my stripes.

I do my best to rest up in between vintage encounters.

I do my best to rest up in between vintage encounters.

And then the moment came when all the cabinets were empty — and boxes were stacked almost to the ceiling. It was a little sad, because the bottles had been here for so long  — and the room looked kind of forlorn.

But the happy part was much more powerful: the collection would be going to a place where anyone who wants to can enjoy its beauty and explore its meanings.

After we were done, David brought out a guitar that looked like it was from a faraway galaxy made up only of music and stars. He played one of my favorite old songs: Stairway to Heaven.

Which seemed exactly right.

ZeBot Guitar

For information about donating cool culinary stuff (including ANY and ALL cookbooks) to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, please visit southernfood.org.

SoFAB logo