This Week in Food History – 11/13/2017

Raisin Bread is another tasty food to celebrate throughout November. “Bread may not always nourish us; but it always does us good,” said Henry David Thoreau. Indeed, we know from his journals and diaries that he spent long hours concocting bread recipes using techniques from a wide spectrum of sources, from the Romans to the Native Tribes. “Thoreau’s tiny cabin was an early version of America’s Test Kitchen,” observes the author of Paper & Salt, a delicious food Blog we stumbled upon while researching this week’s series. In fact, some believe Thoreau may have invented Raisin Bread. An article titled, “Henry David Thoreau’s Hazelnut Raisin Bread” concludes with the recipe. We know you’re curious. Indulge. Here’s the LINK… and do come back!

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

November 13 is National Indian Pudding Day – America’s Native Indians did not use molasses or milk, the two chief ingredients in what we call “Indian Pudding.” However, they made a mixture of cornmeal mixed with wild berries and possibly maple syrup. Recipes for “Hasty Pudding,” a mixture of gruel, molasses and milk, begin to appear in print in England in the late 16th century. “Indian Pudding,” the name given by New England colonists, first appears in American cookbooks in the 1790’s. Virginians were the first to use cornmeal to concoct their own version of the beloved English pudding. Spices and dried fruit were added over time.

November 14 is National Spicy Guacamole Day – The Spaniards were introduced to avocado in Mexico in the 1500’s. The people of Central America had been consuming it since at least 3,000 BC. They believed avocado to be an aphrodisiac. Science does not support this claim. However, the avocado truly is a powerful fruit, containing 20 minerals and vitamins, 60% more potassium than bananas and at least three times more protein than any other fruit. They’re also loaded with healthy fats. Guacamole comes to us from ahuaca-hulli, an ancient traditional Aztec mashed avocado and onion sauce. The first avocado tree to be cultivated in California was planted there in 1871.

November 15 is National Raisin Bran Cereal Day – Breakfast cereal is an early 20th-century American invention. It was first intended as a digestive aid, later becoming a sugary snack before being praised as a health food. The Kellogg Brothers are credited with creating the first flake cereal in 1906. We still know that one as “Corn Flakes.” Lloyd Skinner, of US Mills, was the first person to add dried fruit to ready-to-eat cereal flakes. It is said he had the idea upon observing his wife garnish her cereal with raisins. His product was marketed as “Skinner’s Raisin Brand.”

November 16 is National Fast Food Day – You’d think the Romans had nothing to do with Fast Food, but that is not the case. They thought of it first. The roadside eatery, diner or to-go shop was known as “Thermopolium” in their time, meaning “a place where something hot is sold.” The Industrial Revolution (1760 – 1840) was the backdrop to the concept of convenient, ready-to-eat foods; the drive-in was a direct by-product of the car. People on the go, namely, the working class, inspired the Fast Food concept. New York Reporter George G. Foster coined the phrase, “Fast Food” in 1848. It became popular during the advent of chain restaurants in the 1960’s.

November 17 is Homemade Bread Day – What say you to a bit of Bread and Cheese Pairing inspiration for the occasion? No worries if you don’t have time to bake; we do. You can find our breads on any of the 158 MAIN MENUS. Now, picture if you will…

  • Cinnamon Raisin – Havarti
  • Honey Oat – Provolone
  • Maple Wheat – Blue Cheese
  • Multi Grain – Brie
  • Rye Bread – Swiss Cheese
  • Wheat Bread – Gouda
  • White Bread – Monterey Jack
  • Baguette – Why, Mozzarella of course!

November 18 is National Vichyssoise Day – King Louis XV (18th-century France) may have inspired the art of the cold soup, but Vichyssoise is a New York invention. The King loved potato soup, but he was so worried about being poisoned (a reasonable fear then) that his soup was cold by the time servants had taken turns tasting it; or so the story goes. But he loved it just the same. Fast forward to New York City, 1917. Ritz Carlton Chef Louis Diat created the cold leek and potato soup as a refreshing dish to serve during the hot summer months. He named it in honor of the fine cuisine served in Vichy, near his boyhood home, in France.

November 19 is Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day – 1780’s: German-Swiss jeweler Jacob Schweppe (rings a bell?) produces the first aerated water. 1807: The first flavored carbonated drinks are produced in the United States. Flavor was not added solely for enjoyable taste; it was meant to supplement the mineral water’s curative qualities. Caffeine was a natural by-product of the kola nut extract originally used in the manufacturing of commercial carbonated beverages. Over time, it became a substitute for the nut itself. In fact, caffeine contributes to a soda’s distinctive taste more than any other flavor added to it.


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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