This Week in Food History – 11/06/2017

We American have mastered the art of making and loving peanut butter. November is National Peanut Butter Month. This month alone, we will consume over 83 million pounds of the protein-rich spread. By the end of 2017, we will have consumed over a billion pounds. Marketing peanut butter in the US was easy. This is not true in other countries. US marketers tried. Take Europe, for example. The average per capita consumption per year amounts to a few tablespoons. Can you imagine? About 4% of adults and children have food allergies. Fewer than 2% count peanuts among the foods they cannot consume.

Meanwhile, here are this week’s food & beverage highlights… 

November 6 is National Nachos Day – In 1960, the son of Mexico chef Ignacio Anaya sought counsel with a lawyer regarding ownership of the nachos recipe. Alas, too much time had elapsed since his father spontaneously created the irresistible dish. The year was 1943. Story goes, the wives of US soldiers entered the Victory Club, a Piedras Negras restaurant, for a few drinks and snacks just moments after it had closed. The chef kindly used what he had on hand, cutting tortillas into small wedges and serving them with cheese. His own name inspired the name, “Nachos Especiales.” Little did he know.

November 7 is Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day – Bittersweet Chocolate Day is January 10; almond Day, February 16. Guess someone could not wait and just had to combined them into an earlier celebration. As we have seen, outstanding foods are typically the fruit of unassuming individuals’ spark of genius or time-honored traditions. While a recipe for Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds is said to be mentioned in an 18th-century cookbook, the chief impetus for this food holiday first emerged in social media as a National Confections Association marketing campaign. It’s a new era, after all.

November 8 is National Cappuccino Day – In Vienna, it is known by the name ‘kapuziner.’ And this is where it all began, in the 1700’s. Prior to this, coffee was served almost exclusively with sugar. In Viennese coffee Houses, however, cream was added to the mix. In some cases, spices were added as well. Adding cream modified the coffee’s texture and color in such a way that it closely resembled Vienna’s Capuchin Friars’ robes. The practice of adding a frothed milk garnish to coffee drinks became trendy in 1980, as did the name “Cappuccino.”

November 9 is Cook Something Bold & Pungent Day – Say what?! This, believe it or not, is a copyrighted holiday. In fact, the originators, Thomas and Ruth Roy, created hundreds of unique holidays to infuse daily life with mirth and create opportunities to celebrate. You can learn more, and find creative, totally made up holidays for every season on their WEBSITE. As for the pungent part of this holiday, while the term may initially cause you to lift your nose at the idea, let it be noted that the proper definition for “pungent” states: a taste or smell that gives a sharp sensation. The word “Pungent” comes from the Latin, “Pungere,” meaning “to sting.” Ginger would be considered a pungent spice. So, whatcha gonna make?

November 10 is National Vanilla Cupcake Day – The original cupcake was not glazed with decadent frosting, but it was sometimes flavored with dried fruit and spices. The term “Cupcake” was made popular by the Hostess Company, around 1920. They also popularized the generous frosting garnish and filling, in the 1950’s. Smaller cakes need less time to bake, allowing the company to produce more cakes in a single day. Turns out it’s also an appealing way to market them! Cupcakes were once known as “1234 Cakes,” as in 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour and 4 eggs.

November 11 is National Sundae Day –  What else can we say about Sundaes? Eight different cities were the birthplace of the Sundae in one fashion or another. New York, Buffalo and Ithaca, NY; Plainfield and Evanston, IL; Two Rivers, WI; New Orleans, LA and Cleveland OH. However, New York City’s Serendipity 3 Restaurant has a unique claim to fame. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, stop in for the $1,000 Serendipity Golden Opulence Sundae. It includes authentic Madagascar vanilla ice cream covered in edible gold leaf, passion fruit, Armagnac, American Golden Caviar… and we’re not nearly done. It is served in a crystal goblet and eaten with a golden spoon too. Look it up!

November 12 is National Pizza with Everything Day – How do you order a pizza with classic toppings like pepperoni, green peppers, onions and mushroom? You probably say something like, “Pizza with the works, please!” Here, we add sausage and call it “JPD Works.” Did you know that the expression “The works” is almost uniquely American? North of the border, you’re more likely to hear someone say, “All Dressed” when ordering a similarly garnished pie. Incidentally, many believe that a proper pizza should include no more than five toppings. We say the proper pie is in the eye of the beholder. What say you?


Thanks for reading. Liked what you learned here? Please share it. Also visit 158 Main and JPD on Facebook and See you here next week for more historical nibbles…

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