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Is there such an animal?
New from Sunshine Biscuits: Cheez-It Heads and Tails, baked snack crackers that come in the shapes and bodies of animals like elephants, alligators, ducks and lions. Children (of all ages) can mix and match them to create wildly original members of the animal kingdom like elegators and ali-quacks. (Or maybe a Push Me-Pull You for old fashioned Dr. Doolittle fans.)

The crackers come in a special kid-sized "carrying case" with four different handle shapes that can be personalized if desired.

Improving your vocabulary

Here, according to the Food Channel industry trade paper, are the newest buzzwords for today's food trends:

Adaptogens: Functional foods, ingredients or nutrients that help the body adapt to physical or mental stress.

Crossover cereals: The growing number of hybrid products that serve multiple roles as an indulgent breakfast product, cookie, cracker or snack food.

Flexitarians: Meat-eating semi-vegetarians who determine eating preference based on mood, rather than on health, lifestyle or philosophical reasons.

Herbes de Provence: French seasoning based on several kinds of dried herbs, including thyme, basil, savory, fennel and lavender. On the upswing in infused oils, bread and flavor crusts for its on-trend "French country" profile.

Rice literacy: Growing consumer awareness of the myriad rice varieties (such as Thai black, Wehani and Arborio) available in food service and on store shelves.

Shiso: A peppery, clean-tasting herb with earthy, cuminlike notes. A current favorite among trendy chefs.


Pass the adaptogens, please.

A peach of a contest

The Lewiston Kiwanis Club is holding a Peach Recipe Contest Taste-Off in conjunction with the village's Peach Festival to be held Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13th at Academy Park.

Applicants should send their original recipes in the cake, pie or dessert category to Peach Festival Taste Off, 310 Niagara St., Niagara Falls, NY 14303. Deadline is September 1.

Ten finalists will compete in a Tasteoff on the first day of the Festival. The winner will receive a $100 Savings Bond.

Tailgating at UB

The local college football season will kick off Saturday, September 12 at 4:30 p.m. next to the stadium on UB's North Campus just before the UB Bulls take on the Lock Haven Bald Eagles. The Independent Living Center presents Tailgate '98, an all-you-can-eat benefit picnic fest.

Participants will savor specialties from 14 prominent local restaurants including Bing's, Hutch's Siena and Warren's. There will also be a showcase of antique cars.

Reservations and information? Call 836-0822. "We Care" Transportation will provide transportation for patrons with disabilities.

Running on empty

New from Villard Books: "Manifold Destiny -- The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on your Car Engine" by Chris Maynard and Bill Scheller. An irreverent (and possibly unsafe) guide to cooking meals under the hood of your car during a long automobile trip. This solves, in the author's words, "the number one problem of the long car trip -- having to eat lousy food at every greasy spoon along the highway."

They also claim that truck drivers have been cooking food like this for years, punching vent holes in cans of Dinty Moore stew and just driving away.

We make no guarantees for the recipes, understand, but included in the book are such marvelous suggestions as Merritt Parkway Veal Scallopini, US 17 Carolina Stuffed Crabs and Hyundai Halibut with Fennel. (Cooking time for that last beauty is 55 to 85 miles.)

The book sells in paperback for $9.95. The cost of the car repair is your responsibility.

So is the doctor's bill.

Some Oenological Thoughts

"When you ask one friend to dine,

Give him your best wine!

When you ask two,

The second best will do!" -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

"Wine is best because it is the safest, pleasantest and most wholesome of all beverages. It is safer than water or milk, you cannot get typhoid or TB from any wine, be it old or young, cheap and nasty or rare and costly." -- Andre Simon.

"Wine is like sex in that few men will admit not knowing all about it." -- Hugh Johnson.

"The first obligation of any wine is to be red." -- Justin Meyer, President and wine maker of California's Silver Oak Cellars, which specializes in cabernet sauvignon.