All posts tagged: Food History

Delizia! The epic story of the Italians and their food

By John Dickie 2007 John has built an intriguing, complex and unexpected narrative around Italian food. Food as a cultural product manifests so much more than evocative traditions or idyllic family scenes. Food as life itself adapts to survive. It says so much more about raw hunger and bold desire than any other social manifestation. Because unlike anything else, we need food to live, whatever it takes, however it comes.   The first myth that Dickie debunks is the fact that there’s no such thing as Italian Food, like all national cuisines it is but a blend of many regional and local culinary traditions and a good deal of imaginary and propaganda. Second, we often think of Italian food as being part of a millenary tradition of bucolic abundance from the green Italian countryside, however the truth is that even when the ingredients came from the country, the people with the power to appropriate and transform them into a delicacy by a simple but artful combination were the inhabitants of the cities. Italian food is …

Why the world will end without sauces (not really) but almost

Runny, thick, seeded, spiced, creamy, cold or hot, sauces are almost universally present throughout different cuisines around the world. Contrary to what we might believe, they’re not the sole invention of enlightened Parisian chefs of yesteryear, sauces have been around basically been around, basically since prehistoric hunters noticed that the juices and fats dripping from roasting meats was not only delicious but great for dipping their meat in it before eating. To deliberately prepare a sauce (not just the saving of juices) requires very little utensils, a few pots, perhaps grinding stones and something to stir them are enough. Sauces have the primary function to add moist to an otherwise dry dish by repurposing ingredients from the cooking process and/or providing extra seasoning and texture. Here’s a rather liberal account of historical sauce-making traditions.   Ancient pots. Archaeological evidence shows that Saxons in Britain used to season their rich stews, usually prepared with veal or wild boars, lamb or beef with herbs such as sage, nettle, mint, melissa and wild garlic.     Roman cooking. …

The Elegant Economist

By Eliza Acton In previous posts I’ve reviewed other titles of the penguin series: Great Food, one by M.F.K. Fisher and Isabella Beeton. Eliza Acton unintendedly ended up in a very controversial affair when a certain Mrs. Beeton -you might have heard of- The latter decided to compile a mammoth of a book aiming to help young housewives like herself to have a detailed all in one reference to master the art of managing a household. Commendable as this task was, Beeton –deliberately?- failed at one tiny detail: provide references of the many sources she consulted to compile her works. You can read my review on The Real Mrs Beeton here, this is one of the few books that has been written about her. In The Elegant Economist we get a glimpse into the writing style and overall approach Acton had on cookery. Although it is customary for us nowadays to find shelves filled cookery books that are too often written by women, this certainly wasn’t the case in 1845 when Acton’s Modern Cookery was …

Book: Authentic Recipes from Around the World

By Emma-Jayne Abbots, Rocio Carvajal, Anna Charalambidou, Elaine Forde, Ana Martins, Hazel Thomas, and Deborah Toner. 2015 University of Leicester, University of Wales, Middlesex University London, University of Exeter, Arts & Humanities Research Council, People’s Collection Wales, National Museum Wales, The National Library of Wales, Welsh Government. This book is part of a larger research project called: Consuming Authenticities: Time, Place and the Past in the Construction of Authentic Foods and Drinks, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in relation to their major research theme, Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past. The book is divided in the following sections: Pulque in Mexico Then and Now.  Deborah Toner and Rocio Carvajal. Flaounes: Celebration Easter Pies from Cyprus. Anna Charalambidou. Cider in Wales. Emma-Jane Abbots, Hazel Thomas and Elaine Forde. Acarajé: Between Bahia and West Africa.  Ana Martins. Throughout the analysis of four case studies of two traditional alcoholic drinks (cider from Wales and Pulque from Mexico) and two food products (Flaounes from Cyprus and Acarajé from Brazil) the authors and contributors of this …

E-book giveaway: Celebrating bread, history and you: my readers!

I am delighted to share with you a glimpse of my current research about bread in colonial Mexico. In this little e-book I included many interesting historical aspects about the introduction of wheat to New Spain and explore some fascinating colonial regulations imposed to both bakers and bakeries alike by the viceregal government. The pages are illustrated with a series of magnificent designs that are some of the bread stamps preserved in the historical archives of Puebla, Mexico. I hope you feel inspired to begin or continue your own quest to find out more about gastronomic heritage, food history and bread baking traditions in the world. Sincerely, Rocio. To read this e-book on ISSUU CLICK HERE. You can also download it directly from my Google Drive just CLICK HERE.

Eat the music!

Food and music are two complementary pleasures that very often relate to each other. There are oh so many of food related songs, let’s think of classics like: Doris Day’s Tea for two,  Louis Prima’s Banana split for my baby, Ella Fitzgerald’s Frim fram sauce, Sinatra’s The coffee song, Sarah Vaughan’s Black coffee, The Beatle’s Honey pie, Kate Bush’s Eat the Music. And let’s not forget about food related songs with a social message like Billie Holiday’s powerful Strange fruit or Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song. The list is almost endless but what about the actual favourite dishes from famous musicians and interpreters? For instance Peanut Butter, grape jelly, bacon and banana sandwiches are known to be Elvis’ favourite treat. Did you know that apparently Beethoven enjoyed his soup with twelve drowned eggs! There’s also food that has been named after musicians and singers like Caruso sauce, a creamy sauce with ham and onions who was created in honour of opera singer Enrico Caruso. Or what about the ever so decadent Mozartkugeln created in 1890 by …

Pomegranates: a story of devotion, luxury and mystery.

Little do we know about the rich stories within our fruit bowls.   The story of Punica granatum commonly known as pomegranate began during the so called agricultural revolution that took place during the Neolithic period around 6000 years BC. Within the “fertile crescent” which is the territory where the Mesopotamian civilization emerged many plants were domesticated, some had deeper impacts than others for the dietary habits of mankind, such is the case of wheat, but fruits were also domesticated and pomegranate was one of them. Its low maintenance crops and abundant production made it a good choice for growing. Equipped with a natural thick skin that preserves hundreds of juicy and delicate deep-red seeds, this great fruit is easy to carry and store. It has a slightly tar but fresh taste and it had a very special place within Mesopotamian, Indian, and ancient Greece and Rome. After the fruit is teared open its radiant seeds are revealed. When bitten, each seed squirts out a droplet of crimson juice. It is very easy to see …