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Probably no single item represented the decade's interest in gourmet food as much as balsamic vinegar.
Balsamic comes from the Italian word for "curative," because the vinegar is traditionally thought to aid digestion. (A few sips of balsamic vinegar are sometimes taken after a meal, as a digestif.)
Either way, people went crazy for it. As the Boston Globe explained,
"Balsamic vinegar is like no other vinegar you have ever tasted. At its best it is aromatic, syrupy, dense, dark and creamy like honey; concentrated, mellow and slightly sweet with a sharp roundness that only hints of vinegar." (August 1985)