A food or solution is acidulated by making it more acidic or sour. This is done to enhance flavor or to help with preservation.


Adobo is a Spanish word that can refer to a seasoning mixture, marinade, sauce, or even a whole dish. The concept originated in Spain and Portugal and spread around the globe with the early explorers. Adobo powder is available in prepared form and usually consists of a combination of dried parsley, paprika, garlic or onion and salt.


Agar agar is an animal-free alternative to gelatin. It is usually made from an array of sea vegetables and is used as a thickening agent. Agar agar can be bought from many specialty markets, such as Whole Foods, Asian markets, or online.


Agave nectar is a sweetener that is gaining prominence among health-conscious people. Agave nectar comes from the agave plant that grows in Mexico. Agave is similar in flavor to honey and can be used in place of other sweeteners in many recipes. Agave can be bought at many major supermarkets or at health stores. For more information on agave nectar, click here.


Aji amarillo paste is a Peruvian seasoning and condiment made from aji (chile pepper) amarillo (yellow) that is ground to a paste and mixed with oil. Aji amarillo is a hot pepper that, despite its name, becomes orange when mature. The condiment is available in Peruvian and other Latin American markets and online.


Aji mirasol is a beautiful yellow sun-dried chile pepper that is popular in Peru and elsewhere in the Andes. It has an earthy, intense flavor and is quite hot and spicy. The name means look (mira) at the sun (sol). It is available whole or in paste form. To reduce the heat somewhat, before using, remove the seeds and veins, toast lightly in the oven and reconstitute in hot water. If you would like to make it into a paste yourself, process in a food processor with enough oil to achieve the consistency of paste.


Al dente is an Italian phrase that refers to the degree of doneness for pasta, rice, and some vegetables when they are cooked but still firm to the bite. It literally means “to the tooth.” Food that is cooked al dente is neither mushy nor raw. You can feel it in the center against your tooth. It is a shorthand term that was once rare to hear—and even rarer to find at a restaurant—but is now the cooking standard, and the term is used in common parlance.


Aleppo pepper is a hot chile pepper that is often used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. Named for a city in northern Syria, it is moderately hot with sweet, fruity notes that some compare to raisins or sun-dried tomatoes. It is most commonly available as crushed flakes.


All-purpose flour, sometimes referred to as AP flour, is a type of white flour that can be made from either hard wheat, or a blend of soft and hard wheats. All-purpose flour has a medium protein and gluten content. It is useful for a wide range of baking needs, including cakes, breads, pastries, and pie crusts. All-purpose flour can be bought at all supermarkets.


Almonds are a tree nut that can be used for a variety of cooking purposes. They can be made into milk, used whole, or ground into flour.


Amaretto is an almond-flavored brandy that originated in Italy.


The American Diabetes Association is a group that provides support for diabetics. The organization funds research, provides care and information, and gives a public voice to those with diabetes. For more information on the American Diabetes Association, click here.


The American Dietetic Association is a society of nutritional professionals. Their goal is to improve public health through research, education, and advocacy. For more information on the American Dietetic Association, click here.


The Anaheim, or California, chili actually originated in New Mexico, but was brought to California in the 20th century and flourished there. These milder chilies are usually 6 to 10 inches in length and register 500 to 2,500 Scoville units (their New Mexican cousins are much, much hotter). They come in fresh or dried form. When fresh, they are typically green but can be used once they ripen to red. In dried form, they are a dark burgundy color.


Ancho chilies are dried poblano chilies that are relatively mild (1,000–1,500 Scoville Heat Units, or 3 to 4 on a scale of 10). They are available whole and in powdered form and have a slightly sweet flavor.


A leafy green herb that is sometimes called wild celery because of its crunchy stalks. It is most often candied and used in baked treats. Its seeds and roots are also used to impart flavor to liqueurs and spirits. The leaves can be added to salads, and the stems are added to tart stewed fruit to reduce the acidity. The root is also ground into powder form and used as a spice in baked goods.


Annatto powder is a spice derived from the seeds of the achiote tree. It is also called achiote, as well as roucou and in the Philippines, atswete. Its flavor has been described as both peppery and reminiscent of nutmeg, but its primary use is as a natural food coloring; it is widely used in Central and South America and the Caribbean in rice dishes, but it is also used as a coloring agent in cheeses, cereals, and other products. It is native to South America (probably Brazil) but now grows in many of the world’s tropical regions.


Arborio rice is a short-grain rice used commonly for risotto. Its high starch content brings creaminess to dishes. Arborio rice was previously grown only in Italy but is now available worldwide. It can be bought at most major supermarkets, Italian specialty stores, and online.


Arrowroot is a plant native to South America. Arrowroot starch is quite similar to cornstarch and is most often used as a thickening agent. However, unlike cornstarch, arrowroot starch is flavorless and does not impart a starchy flavor in foods. Arrowroot flour can be purchased at most major supermarkets or online.


Asian pears are the fruit of the Pyrus serotina tree. They look more like apples than their European counterparts and they are crunchier, too, and less sweet. They go by many other names, such as apple pears, salad pears, Chinese, or Japanese pears.