An article in the NYT by Mark Bittman starts with this lead: "ADORED in the United States, ignored or mocked almost everywhere else, peanut butter is among the most flavorful and reliable single-ingredient processed foods."
And it's largely true. When I say that peanut butter is my favorite food (along with oatmeal, pumpkin, dark chocolate and grapes), I frequently get the following reactions living in Argentina:
1. Doesn't that make you fat?
-Carly the Vegetarian: Argentina is famous for dulce de leche, empanadas dripping with cheese, and facturas. Any of these products eaten in excess will undoubtedly make you fat; same with peanut butter.
2. We don't have peanut butter here in Argentina.
-CtV: It is not hard to get peanut butter here; most natural food stores and supermarkets in Chinatown have a homestyle version. Also, if you want an expensive import from North America, many large grocery stores will have a couple of jars just calling out to us capricious Americans. So, it's not that it isn't here.
3. That is so American.
-CtV: So is The Simpsons, but Argentines can't go ten minutes without making reference to them. So is McDonalds, but there is one on every corner in Buenos Aires, so that is not an argument for not embracing this North American delicacy.
4. One time, long ago in a moment I barely remember, I tried peanut butter and I didn't like it and I will never give it another chance.
-CtV: No. I don't believe you. Bring me some Cerealitas and I will spread some on it and you will like it.
I frequently argue for the versatility and utility of peanut butter, but this NYT article is an excellent reaffirmation that just adding a spoonful of it to almost anything (within reason) will undoubtedly make the dish better.
Bittman asserts, curries, oatmeal, noodles, hummus all benefit from this seldom-appreciated-internationally product.
Also, as my friend Will and I discovered last year at an International Potluck, peanut butter finger sandwiches are a unique way to represent our peanut butter-obsessed country.
There are some positive and negative aspects of globalization, but this non-proliferation of peanut butter treaty that the world seems to have against the U.S. is unfounded and not good for my personal international relations.