Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Peanut Butter Vs. Dulce de Leche

Every culture has a vat or jar of a nutrient rich spread to put on their crackers or their bread.  The U.S. has peanut butter.  Europe has Nutella.  Argentina has Dulce de Leche (or caramel).  And Australia has its inedible vegemite.  These items are so exclusive to their countries of origin that they are scarcely available anywhere else.  I am consistently warned before going to a foreign country that if I can't live without peanut butter, I should take it with me and although I hardly ever take the advice because I want to eat like a person from the country I am living in, it is not unfounded.

I want to make it clear that although I am going to argue that peanut butter is far superior than dulce de leche, that the items are in no way metaphors for the countries themselves or any attempt at a masked nationalist argument.  I am simply pitting the two foods against each other, and coming to the conclusion the P.B., nutritionally at least-- because I cannot argue personal tastes-- is a better way to butter up your toast for breakfast.

Examining the ingredients in each of the products, D.d.L. includes milk, sugar, glucose and flavoring such as vanilla, where as P.B. has peanuts, salt and sugar (depending on the brand).  Calorically, D.d.L. per 2 tbsp has 124 calories whereas the same amount of P.B. has 200.

But calories certainly are not all that matters.  If one eats a piece of bread with D.d.L. on it, their blood sugar is going to skyrocket and then by 10a.m., they are going to crash and be incredibly hungry, whereas P.B., which is more dense with fat and protein, is going to leave the person feeling fuller for longer.  The protein and the fat are worth the extra calories, because they are going to build muscle mass (as long as the person is active), whereas D.d.L. only affords an excess of carbs which in convert to fat the second they are not used.

P.B., however, does have an incredibly large amount of fat.  It would be delusional to think that the fat won't turn into fat on your body, or even the excess protein won't if you don't workout.  17g in 2 tablespoons is 26% of a daily intake, but by buying the right brands (any homestyle or trans fat free) the fat is a necessary component for your brain to function.  I am not going to say that P.B. makes you SMARTER per se, but it couldn't hurt, right?  

In terms of their versatility with desserts, D.d.L. is ubiquitous in Argentina.  Anything can be found with it, but P.B. keeps up in the U.S. from cookies, puppy chow or Reese's peanut butter cups.  

In returning from Buenos Aires, I have been looking for reasons why I am happy to be home.  Peanut butter has definitely welcomed me. . .but we'll just see how happy I am to see it once I've gained 10 pounds.


Valeria said...

Hola Carly!!
sólo quería saludarte! Espero que todo esté saliendo como vos querías y esperabas!
Besos grandes de tu "profe"/amiga

danielkarlin said...

yes, there is peanut butter in barrio chino but it is definitely not the same. Certainly its a far cry from jiffy or skippy but its also lejos de any organic brand like laura scudders or peter pan. i really cant stand the big brand names and have even thought of getting a peanut grinder to make true peanut butter which is simply peanuts and salt.

please check out other musings on cultural differences: www.expatargentina.wordpress.com

Santana5 said...

Nutella all the way...and thankfully I live in a city which has bountiful amounts of each product.
Saludos Carly!