Wow. In twenty years of cooking and traveling, I've never tasted anything else remotely like this. It's exhilarating—intoxicating even. When I'm having a rough day I just open the jar and stick my nose inside. Its aroma is sweet and pungent, smelling intensely of everything great about fennel and then some. Sometimes I'm surprised it's legal.
Having trouble picturing it? Try this: teeny tiny golden pollen are taken off wild fennel plants as they begin to bloom in the Tuscan countryside, then sent to us, where we hand pack them in our little spice tubes. It looks like fluffy sand, colored yellow by the sun. As special and rare as it is, wild fennel pollen is surprisingly easy to use—mix it with a touch of sea salt and black pepper and sprinkle it on to chicken, firm fleshed fish, potatoes or almost anything really before cooking. (It's the quintessential Tuscan ingredient for anything made with pork.) It's like fairy dust for food—it makes it sparkle with flavor.
It's rare, and therein lies the problem: even in Italy this stuff is almost unknown. Even those who've heard of it have a hard time finding it. Even if you can find it, it's not inexpensive. As a matter of fact, by the time you're ready to order some from us, we may already be out—and we're not sure we'll be able to get more.
Zingerman's Food Tours is visiting Tuscany in October 2014. Join us for a behind the scenes journey to traditional food makers like this.