The concept of encasing food, making it a packaged affair, seems to be a common cultural conclusion across the world. Nearly every country or region has its own way of encapsulating meals, be it sewing them into bite-sized parcels or folding them into one big sack of dinner. Who knows why, but the evident case is definitely that we the people love to encase our food.
Without a doubt, many of the different forms of food wraps going around have traditionally included meat and/or cheese, but it is also very typical that some sort of vegetable version — what once would have been considered the extreme in pauperism — exists. And, like most peasant food, these dishes somehow find a way of being absolutely scrumptious.
So, now feels the appropriate time that we discover, or rediscover, the joys of making our delectable delights gift-wrapped. And, while it would seem that what’s inside would be where to start, we are going to think about the wrapping paper options first.
The Russian Blini
This delicious Russian favorite, otherwise known as the French crepe or an English pancake (definitely different to the US pancake), is a classic wrapping medium. These can work on either the sweet or savory side of things. A great sweet option is, say, served with a delicious cashew coconut cheese, crumbled walnut and a honey alternative. On the other hand, a favorite savory blini is stuffed with creamy mashed potatoes (or healthy alternatives).
The Cornish Pasty
Really some version of the pasty is found everywhere, easily adjusted to being an Italian Calzone or Latin American Empanada or Indian Samosa, and is essentially a pie crust folded in half over a stuffing. For a British spin include classic UK veggies like cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onion. Then again, a delicious tomato sauce with mushrooms, spinach and ricotta sounds a treat, as do black beans salsa and avocado.
The Vietnamese Spring Roll
What’s in a name! A spring roll couldn’t really sound lighter, fresher or greener, which is why it’s such a perfectly delightful, delicate wrap for any time of year. In this instance, we’ve ditched wheat flour for rice paper and started tying things up. Then, it’s all about the sauce! Spring rolls can basically be filled with any vegetable, which makes it flavorfully fun. And, don’t think rice paper can’t get all the way down and funky when it needs to: When the time comes, it can go all American as apple pie.
The Mexican Burrito
Fast food was probably how most of us discovered the tortilla, and to be honest, I’ve never really gotten over that. Burritos are still a personal favorite. However, aside from all the Mexican delights tortillas are involved in (quesadillas, tacos, soup … you know this menu), the tortilla has become a wrap sensation, with more cultural identities than it knows what to do with. A lot of the time, it’s not even encasing stuff anymore. Don’t forget that tortillas come in miniature, more flavorful GMO-free corn varieties as well.
The Italian Ravioli or Dumplings
Or, we could go with tortellini if not ravioli. The point here is that good things come in small packages, things that we can’t help but stuff whole into our salivating mouths. We might also be safe to compare it with the Chinese dumpling or Korean mandu. What we are after here is something we can stab with a fork or pinch with a chopstick, some form of pasta full of the stuff we like. Call it whatever you want!
The Japanese Sushi Roll
“Sushi rolls” have gone so worldwide now that the term scarcely involves seafood anymore. In fact, more towards our end goal here, the important idea behind the sushi roll is to notice the leafy vegetable — seaweed —such as nori, used to contain the meal. Imagine what might be done with cabbage leaves or even collard greens. Who needs pastry when big leafy greens are in the house?
Of course, there are many, many more ways to encase food, such as a traditional wrap, perhaps with some kale, tempeh, and a delicious miso sauce to accompany. I’ll never forget my childhood favorite: the spaghetti sandwich, which involved pulling the innards out of a crusty end piece of bread and refilling it with spaghetti. The point is that encasing our food seems one of the most human (and possibly humane) things to do. Why, shouldn’t all of our food feel so loved as to be delivered in a warm embrace?
That’s a wrap.
Lead Image Source: How to Make Raw Vegan Veggie-Stuffed Collard Wraps