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Old 10-25-2004, 02:34 PM   #1
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Food History and Culture

Anyone know anything unusual about the history of a certain dish? Anyone have good stories about the traditions behind foods? I mentioned the midnight tradition of tourtiere, but in fact most foods have some background. Long noodles for Chinese New Years; lamb for Easter in eastern European countries, the symbolism behind eggs for most cultures. Culture in general, religion specifically, affect food in ways that many aren't aware of. Tell me your stories!

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Old 10-28-2004, 08:35 AM   #2
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One of my favorite reads is an old cookbook about Creole cookery. Creole cooking evolved from French, Spanish, African, and Indian methods and ingredients. Although what's below is not the history of a particular food, I liked the quaint, old-fashioned description.

SOIREES
"Soirees" are pleasant forms of entertainment that have come down from the earliest days of Louisiana. While elaborate entertaining was also done, the Creole character being naturally gay and happy, with an inheirited French fondness for the dance, for music and song and social intercourse, the young folks had a way of giving weekly soirees, at which their parents served simple light refreshments, like the famous "Sirops", ices of various kinds, lemonades and Petit Fours, or small cakes, wafers and fruits.....

Later in the evening tea was served, and as the "Soiree" advanced to the wee hours, coffe, chocolate and consomme were served in cups.

Fathers took the greatest interest in the "Soirees" in their homes, and did the honors with distinguished courtesy, inviting the older gentlement who acted as escorts for their daughters, to take a glass of wine or champagne, but the liquors were never offered to the young people.

Ice Cream, Lemonade and Cakes with a cup of Consomme or Cafe Noir, as the evening advanced, were considered sufficient refreshment.

Again, at these "Soirees", the simple "Eau Sucre" was served in the homes of families of most limited means. These old time "Soirees" still continue, although the "Eau Sucre" parties have passed away with changing conditions.
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Old 04-07-2005, 08:21 AM   #3
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I have a few stories about terms and origins in my new book, Creole Nouvelle. :)
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
Tell me your stories!
I usually do a little food history when I'm teaching. I mention to people very small tidbits of information that we forget. All this technology and we forget our basic history.
For example:
potatoes never existed in Europe until the discovery of the Americas
Chiles never made it to Asia until Americas was discovered
A lot of the popular spices we used today, we think as very America originated in the Orient and Middle East.

I used to have a book, but I think it is lost called "The History of Food". Pretty good reading.
Harrold McGee's books also has some good food history in them.
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:22 AM   #5
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I posted a link earlier on food timeline. May give you some history.

Food timeline
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:37 AM   #6
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Eric, couldn't agreee with you more. I often try to educate folks on the history and orgin of BBQ.

The United States Department of Agriculture says barbecue is any meat "cooked by the direct action of heat resulting from the burning of hardwood or the hot coals therefrom for a sufficient period to assume the usual characteristics" including the formation of a brown crust and a weight loss of at least thirty percent.

When the Spanish arrived in the Americas, they found the Taino Indians of the West Indies cooking meat and fish over a pit of coals on a framework of green wooden sticks. The Spanish spelling of the Indian name for that framework was "barbacoa". Both the name and method of cooking found their way to North America, where George Washington noted in his diary of 1769 that he "went up to Alexandria to a "barbicue."

Noah Webster's dictionary insists that the one and only correct spelling is barbecue. But, as another US president, Andrew Jackson, noted, "It's a ****ed poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word ." He would be mighty pleased to know that over the years folks have been enjoying barbicue, barbique, barbeque, Bar-B-Que, Bar-B-Cue, Bar-B-Q, BBQ, Cue, and just plain Q.

The Spanish explorer DeSoto introduced hogs to Florida and Alabama about 1540. The settlers at Jamestown brought swine with them in 1607 and soon thereafter Virginia enacted a law making it illegal to discharge a firearm at a barbecue! The creatures thrived in the wilds of the warm Southern woodlands where cattle perished. By the time of the War Between the States, hogs had been domesticated, and pork had become the principal meat of the South. Not surprisingly, pork has been synonymous with Southern barbecue ever since.

Indeed, barbecues have long been a popular social occasion in the South. But, done in the traditional way, the making of barbecue was hard work. A pit was dug in the ground the day before the gathering and filled with hardwood. The wood was burned down to coals before whole hogs, skewered on poles, were hung over the pit. The pitmasters sat up through the night, turning the hogs on their spits. The following afternoon when the guests arrived, the crisp skin - Mr. Brown - was removed and the cooked meat - the divine Miss White - was pulled in lumps from the carcass before being slathered with a favorite finishing sauce. That's why, to this very day, a social affair centered around pork barbecue is affectionately called a Pig Pickin.

Some folks might consider barbecuing a whole hog to be a tad bit of overkill for a fellow with a sudden hankering for a sandwich. But, without benefit of electricity and refrigeration in bygone years, portioned cuts of fresh pork were nonexistent. A solution to this culinary dilemma was provided by a pair of entrepreneurs in Lexington, North Carolina when they hit upon the idea of barbecuing a couple of pigs over open pits in the town square on Saturdays and selling it. Tents soon popped up and the first commercial barbecue joint was born. The boys there in Lexington are still making some mighty fine barbecue in those barbecue joints. At last count, the city had one for every thousand citizens - men, women, and children included!
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:51 AM   #7
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I know quite a bit about Scottish dishes. I've got a family receipt book which was started in the early 1800s, and some of the recipes were old, even then!

Scottish food was very influenced by the French. This is due to the close relationship between the French and Scottish courts - Mary, Queen of Scots returned to Scotland with a whole army of French cooks. The cut of our meats is based on the French method, not the English - although we 'anglified' the names For a lamb chop which the french call gigot (and pronounce szjee go) we spell the same, but pronounce jiggot! A small serving or cooking dish (usually oval) which can be either in one single portion or in two, is called an 'ashet' in Scotland - from the French word, assiette.
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Old 04-07-2005, 12:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainee
awesome picture! I wish I was invited to that pig roast!
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Old 04-07-2005, 12:54 PM   #9
 
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Barbeque is even older than that Rainee. West Africans were doing pig roasts for many centuries.
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Old 04-07-2005, 01:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choclatechef
Barbeque is even older than that Rainee. West Africans were doing pig roasts for many centuries.
Wasn't it the very first form of cooking?
Put dead animal on fire
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