Posts Tagged ‘Food’
For years culinary detectives have been on the chili pepper’s trail, trying to figure out how a New World import became so firmly rooted in Sichuan, a landlocked province on the southwestern frontier of China. “It’s an extraordinary puzzle,” says Paul Rozin, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, who has studied the cultural evolution and psychological impact of foods, including the chili pepper…
How the chili pepper got to China (and lots of other stops around the world): “Why Revolutionaries Love Spicy Food.
* “Philosophers have often looked for the defining feature of humans–language, rationality, culture and so on. I’d stick with this: Man is the only animal that likes Tabasco sauce” – Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, quoted in The New York Times
As we remind ourselves that water doesn’t help, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that John L. Mason of New York was issued U.S. patent No. 22,186 for a Glass Jar, “Improvement in Screw-Neck Bottles”– forever after known as “Mason jars.” That same year he also invented the first screw top salt shaker.
How the thing that makes everything delicious began: “The History of Butter.”
* Jacques Pepin
As we spread it thick, we might spare a thought for Carl Paul Gottfried Linde; he died on this date in 1934. An engineer, inventor, and businessman, he discovered an effective refrigeration cycle and invented the first industrial-scale air separation and gas liquefaction processes that he used to create the first effective refrigeration system. Linde also founded what is now known as The Linde Group, the world’s largest industrial gases company, and ushered the creation of the supply chain of industrial gases as a profitable line of businesses… so it is him we can thank for the wide-spread availability of butter (among so many other perishables).
Cheese curls (or cheese puffs) have been around for 80 years and have been a staple for over 50 (since 1948, when Cheetos achieved national distribution)… not bad for what was originally the unintended by-product of an animal feed-producing process.
The whole tasty story at: “Junk Food’s Happiest Accident.”
* Snoop Dogg
As we try not to wipe our fingers on our clothes, we might send delicious birthday greetings to Prosper Montagné; he was born on this date in 1865. Considered (with Georges-Auguste Escoffier) to be one of the two men with the greatest impact on French gastronomy (and thus, on that of the world at large), Montagné was one of the greatest French chefs of all time, and earned a place of honor in gastronomic history by creating Larousse Gastronomique (1938), the basic encyclopaedia of French gastronomy.
John Tesar has a lot of opinions. And whether it’s a 3 a.m. expletive-filled tweet directed at a food critic or an interview dishing on his old pal Anthony Bourdain, the Dallas-based chef — who slings 420-day-aged steaks at his acclaimed restaurant Knife and is preparing to publish his first cookbook — isn’t shy about expressing them. So who better to offer a critical evaluation of the weird and (sometimes) wonderful deep-fried foods of the State Fair of Texas?
From Injectible BBQ Balls to Fried Funyon Dings, Tesar reviews ’em all at “John Tesar Eats the Most Absurd Fried Foods in Texas.”
* W.C. Fields
As we debate the delights of the deep-fried bacon burger on a stick, we might note with relief that today is National Greasy Food Day.
“Hell, when I was growing up, I could make a meal out of a package of Top Ramen and a bottle of Windex”*…
In 1958, Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Food Products, invented Chicken Ramen, the first instant ramen product. In 1971, he created Cup Noodles, introducing the world to instant ramen in the form that’s become its avatar… Ando continued to create many variations on the theme, culminating, in 2005 (two years before his death at age 96) with Space Ramen (ramen packaged consumption during for space travel).
Ando’s personal fortune was dedicated at his death to the formation of the Ando Foundation, which has created the CupNoodles Museum.
Dig in at “CupNoodles Museum.”
As we add the flavor packet, we might send well-preserved birthday greetings to Nicolas Appert; he was born on this date in 1752 (though the year is listed in various sources as 1749, 1750 and 1752; month also varies between October and November). Inventor of the canning process, preserving food by sealing it in sterilized containers, he published the results of 14 years of research in 1810 and received 12,000 franc award from the French government. Napoleon, who famously understood that an army travels on its stomach, had offered the award.
Interestingly, that same year (1810), Appert’s friend and agent, Peter Durand, took the invention to the other side. He switched the medium from glass to metal and presented it to Napoleon’s enemies, the British– scoring a patent (No. 3372) from King George for the preservation of food in metal (and glass and pottery) containers– the tin can.
Eliminating meat from our diets would bring a bounty of benefits to the planet’s health and to our own – but, a quick transition would not be without its costs: it could harm millions of people…
People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons. Some do it to alleviate animal suffering, others because they want to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Still others are fans of sustainability or wish to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
No matter how much their carnivorous friends might deny it, vegetarians have a point: cutting out meat delivers multiple benefits. And the more who make the switch, the more those perks would manifest on a global scale.
But if everyone became a committed vegetarian, there would be serious drawbacks for millions, if not billions, of people.
“It’s a tale of two worlds, really,” says Andrew Jarvis of Colombia’s International Centre for Tropical Agriculture. “In developed countries, vegetarianism would bring all sorts of environmental and health benefits. But in developing countries there would be negative effects in terms of poverty.”…
* George Bernard Shaw (vegetarian)
As we opt for the vegiburger, we might recall that, for all our sins, to day is National Sausage Pizza Day. While pizza dates back (at least) to the ancient Greek custom of covering bread with oils, herbs and cheese (in Byzantine Greek, the dish was spelled πίτα (pita), meaning “pie”), pizza-as-we-know-it seems to have been born in modern Italy as Neapolitan flatbread. An estimated 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. every year, an average of 350 per second; 17% of all restaurants in the U.S. are pizzerias, more than 10% of which are in New York City. [source]
Today, pretzels are a humble food. Simply, salty, and greasy, they are a fixture at ball parks and airports across America.
But back in the day—like way back in the day, before baseball—pretzels were the food of royalty. By all accounts, the first pretzel goes all the way back to the 6th century, either to France, Italy, or Germany.
And while the country of origin remains unclear, the first image of the pretzel makes it pretty clear that it was a important food, reserved for the fanciest and most lavish of parties.
Consider the scene above, from the Hortus deliciarum.
Look at how Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus are presiding over this v v lit Biblical party; their table is filled with fish, fancy cutlery, and a solitary, salty, badass pretzel.
The Hortus deliciarum is an illustrated encyclopedia (the first to be compiled by a woman) from the 12th century containing the first known depiction of the pretzel. It gives us a glimpse into the cultural weight once occupied by everyone’s favorite baseball food.
Its coveted place next to fish in this religious painting is no accident. The folds are supposedly meant to symbolize hands in prayer, and the three holes are the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—it was basically the most Christian food that humans could conceive of. Apparently, they were even hidden from children in an early incarnation of the Easter egg hunt…
More on both the spiritual and the more earthly significance of the salted treat at “The History of the Pretzel Is Mad Twisted.”
* Jerry Seinfeld
As we contemplate contortion, we might send sweet birthday greetings to Otto Y. Schnering; he was born on this date in 1891. Widely known as the “U.S. Candy Bar King,” Schnering harnessed his personal sales skills and understanding of advertising and marketing to build the Curtiss Candy Company in Chicago and the post–World War I United States chocolate candy industry into modern, successful enterprises. Schnering’s first confectionery creation (in 1916) was Kandy Kake, refashioned in 1921 as the log-shaped Baby Ruth (allegedly named after President Grover Cleveland’s daughter Ruth); his second, the chocolate-covered peanut butter crunch Butterfinger (1926).