Posts from the “Encyclopedia” Category

Celebrate National Pepper Month!

Posted on November 3, 2017

High-res version

November is National Pepper Month!


Today’s post is about Pepper, the spice.


Pepper, the spice:

  • Pepper is the top selling spice in America
  • As long as your ground pepper and peppercorns are kept dry they can be usable indefinitely.
  • Pepper comes in many colors: green, black, red & white but all comes from the same plant, the color is related to how ripe it is and how it has been processed
  • Pepper is a vine native to India.
  • It has been used in cooking for over 3000 years!
  • Pepper traders originated the original spice routes from India to Europe.
  • Pepper gets its kick from the component peperine

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February 17 is Café au Lait Day

Posted on February 17, 2015

Here are today’s five thing to know about Café au Lait:

  1. In Europe, “café au lait” stems from the same continental tradition as “café con leche” in Spain,
  2. In Poland it is referred to as “kawa biała” (“white coffee”)
  3. In Germany it is referred to as “Milchkaffee” (“milk coffee”)
  4. In The Netherlands “koffie verkeerd” (“incorrect coffee”)
  5. In the French-speaking areas of Switzerland, a popular variation is the “café renversé” (“reverse coffee”), made by using the milk as a base and adding espresso, in reversal of the normal method of making a “café au lait”.

Daily Quote:

“True Love is a hard nut to crack, but it has the sweetest kernel.”~Spanish Proverb


Today’s Pinterest Board : Foodimentary


Today’s Food History

  • 1665 Rudolph Jacob Camerarius was born. A German botanist, he showed the existence of sexes in plants, and identified the stamen and pistil as the male and female organs.
  • 1876 Canned sardines went on sale in the U.S. for the first time. They were packed in oil.
  • (Some sources say 1873).
  • 1889 H.L. Hunt, the pioneering Texas oil millionaire (Hunt Oil Company) was born. He carried a brown bag lunch to his office each day and considered himself as ‘just plain folks.’
  • 1958‘Sugartime’ by the McGuire Sister topped the charts.
  • 2002 New regulations to go into effect this year require German pig farmers to spend at least 20 seconds every day with each pig, 10 seconds in the morning and 10 seconds in the afternoon. I do not know about what regulations there might be for spending time with German cows, sheep, chickens and other farm animals.
  • 2008 The USDA announced the largest beef recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a California slaughterhouse.


A History of Frozen Food

Posted on March 7, 2014

Clarence Birdseye invented, developed, and commercialized a method for quick-freezing food products in convenient packages and without altering the original taste. “Frosted foods” were sold to the public for the first time in 1930 in Springfield, Massachusetts, under the tradename Birds Eye Frosted Foods®. While Clarence Birdseye has become a household name, his process has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry.

Fruits and vegetables chosen for fresh produces isles are usually picked before they ripen, which gives them less time to reach higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. The appearance of ‘ripening’ still occurs, but this produce will never have the same nutritive value as if they had been allowed to fully ripen on the plant.

Clarence Birdseye was born in 1886 in Brooklyn, New York A taxidermist by trade, but a chef at heart, Clarence Birdseye wished his family could have fresh food all year. After observing the people of the Arctic preserving fresh fish and meat in barrels of sea water quickly frozen by the arctic temperatures, he concluded that it was the rapid freezing in the extremely low temperatures that made food retain freshness when thawed and cooked months later.

In 1923, with an investment of $7 for an electric fan, buckets of brine, and cakes of ice, Clarence Birdseye invented and later perfected a system of packing fresh food into waxed cardboard boxes and flash-freezing under high pressure.  The Goldman-Sachs Trading Corporation and the Postum Company (later the General Foods Corporation) bought Clarence Birdseye’s patents and trademarks in 1929 for $22 million. The first quick-frozen vegetables, fruits, seafoods, and meat.

Clarence Birdseye turned his attention to other interests and invented an infrared heat lamp, a spotlight for store window displays, a harpoon for marking whales, then established companies to market his products.

Nutritional Five Food Finds about Frozen Food

  • Fruits and vegetables tend to be frozen at their peak ripeness, a time when they have the most nutrients.
  • Pumpkins and tomatoes lose little nutritional value during the freezing process.
  • When shopping for frozen foods, choose those marked with the USDA ‘U.S. Fancy’ shield.  Vegetables of this standard tend to be more nutrient-rich than the lower grades ‘U.S. No. 1’ or ‘U.S. No. 2.’
  • Steaming or microwaving (instead of boiling) frozen foods minimizes the loss of vitamins & nutrients.
  • Frozen produce sales have climbed faster than fresh produce sales over the past five years.


Origins of the Margarita

Posted on February 22, 2014


 Origins of the Margarita
  The following are perhaps the most commonly repeated tales of the creator of the margarita cocktail:
1.Sammy Cruz, 1948
According to the promotional flyer for the legendary Balinese Room in Galveston, Texas, head bartender Santos Cruz created the Margarita for singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee in 1948.
2. The Balinese Room was opened in 1941 and was Texas’s finest nightclub with A/C, casino gambling, superb food and drinks, and stellar entertainment until the Texas Rangers finally shut it down in 1957.
3. Barman “Willie” from Mexico City, 1934 in the employ of the Melguizo Family Marguerite Hemery lived in the Rio Grande Valley since the 1930s and went to a restaurant in Matamoros called Los Dos Republicas. She was friends with the owner and, as the story goes, his bartender composed a special drink for her.
Danny Negrete, 1936
4. According to Salvador Negrete, the son of Daniel Negrete, the family story goes that Daniel opened a bar at the Garci Crispo hotel with his brother, David. The day before David’s marriage, Daniel presented the margarita as a wedding present to Margarita, his sister-in-law. It was a combination of one-third Triple Sec, one-third tequila and one-third squeezed Mexican lime juice. The drink was not blended and was served with hand-crushed ice.
5. Enrique Bastate Gutierrez, early 1940s
Gutierrez, who lived in Tijuana, Mexico, boasted to have created the Margarita as a homage to actress Rita Hayworth, whose real name was Margarita Cansino. Other versions of the story claim the Margarita was indeed named after the actress, but in the 1930s, before she adopted her screen name. As a teenager, Margarita Cansino worked as a dancer at the Foreign Club, in Tijuana, where she supposedly inspired a bartender.

Mysteries of the Raisin

Posted on April 30, 2012

Did you know? Raisins are typically sun-dried, but may also be water-dipped, or dehydrated. “Golden raisins” are made from sultanas, treated with sulfur dioxide (SO2), and flame-dried to give them their characteristic color. Raisin varieties depend on the type of grape used, and are made in a variety of sizes and colors including green, black, blue, purple, and yellow. Seedless varieties include the sultana (also known as Thompson Seedless in the USA) and Flame grapes. A particular variety of seedless grape, the Black Corinth, is also sun-dried to produce Zante currants, miniature raisins that are much darker in color and have a tart, tangy flavor. Several varieties of raisins are produced in Asia and, in the West, are only available at ethnic specialty grocers.…

Know your shrimp!

Posted on April 29, 2012

Did you know?  All shrimp were not created equal.  Here are a few tips on telling the good from the bad. Shrimp are marketed and commercialised with several issues in mind. Most shrimp are sold frozen and marketed based on their categorisation of presentation, grading, color, and uniformity. The main forms of presentation are head on shell on (HOSO), shell on (SO or “green headless shrimp”), peeled tail on (PTO), peeled undeveined (PUD), peeled and deveined (P&D), and butterfly tail on (BTTY-TO). Sometimes a letter ‘F’ is placed in front of these abbreviation for the presentation in order to state that the shrimp comes from a farm (example: FSO – farmed, shell on). European and Asian markets prefer the HOSO presentation (which is a…

Everything You Need to Know about Blueberries

Posted on April 28, 2012

Did you know that blueberries are one of the only natural foods that are truly blue in color?  You won’t find many others! Maine is the blueberry production capital of North America and produces almost 100 percent of all berries harvested in the country. America’s favorite muffin is blueberry. July is national blueberry month because that is the peak of the harvest season. The pale, powder-like protective coating on the skin of blueberries is called “bloom.” The annual harvest of North American blueberries would cover a four lane highway from Chicago to New York if spread out in a single layer. The anthocyanin present in blueberries is good for eyesight. Blueberries contain more antioxidants than most other fruits or vegetables and may help prevent…

Origins of the Pretzel

Posted on April 26, 2012

Did you know that pretzels got their start in the early church?  As early as 610AD at a monastery somewhere in Southern France or Northern Italy, where monks used scraps of dough and formed them into strips to represent a child’s arms folded in prayer. The three empty holes represented the Christian Trinity. As with a lot of foods, the exact origin of the pretzel is unknown. The monks offered the warm, doughy bribe to children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers. The monks called it a Pretiola, Latin for little reward. From there, the pretzel transformed into the Italian word, Brachiola, which means little arms. The Pretiola journeyed beyond the French and Italian wine regions, hiked the Alps, wandered through Austria,…

Food Finds about Zucchini

Posted on April 25, 2012

Did you know that a Zucchini is little more than an Italian squash?  It didn’t reach great popularity in the United States until after the name was changed from “Italian squash” to “Zucchini”. Food Finds about Zucchini The zucchini naturally grows to about a meter in length, but is usually harvested before it reaches this size. In culinary terms, the Zucchini is treated as a vegetable.  Botanically however, it is a fruit.  The Zucchini is the swollen ovary of the plant it comes from. Zucchini grows on a vine, not underground as the carrot does. Despite being Italian in origin, the Zucchini’s ancestors are American. “Zucca” is the Italian word for squash and “zucchina” is its diminutive (carrying a meaning like “little squash”), becoming…

Origins of Pigs in a Blanket

Posted on April 24, 2012

Did you know that pigs-in-a-blanket may be as old as the 1600’s?  Despite rumors that it is an invention as modern as 1957, field laborers in the England of the 1600’s had what was essentially the same dish.  Putting meat inside of dough was an obvious solution for a quick and nourishing meal on the go. The earliest written record of the modern dish is in Betty Crocker’s “Cooking for Kids”, which was published in 1957.  However there are various personal testimonies claiming to have enjoyed this dish before the book’s publication. There is a trucker legend that puts its creation at an even later date, some time in the 1960’s, attributing its creation to a diner along route 66 in Oklahoma. Still other…

Origins of the Picnic

Posted on April 23, 2012

Did you know that the first picnic may have been put on by crusaders?  The origin of picnics is not known. We do know that picnics were around for the time of the Crusades because the Knights Templar arranged a grand picnic to celebrate their first non-European member. While some used to believe that the word referred to the act of lynching African Americans while onlookers watched and ate packed lunches, this is not the true origin of the word.  The story began as a political parody that got out of hand.  The word originally meant an “outing with food” that was held indoors, sort of like a modern-day potluck. However in the 19th century that picnics moved outside. The word’s roots were borrowed from French…

Food Finds about Pineapples

Posted on April 20, 2012

Food Finds about Pineapples Pineapple skin, core, and ends are used in the making of alcohol, vinegar, and animal feed. Each pineapple plant produces just one pineapple per year! Unripened pineapples taste terrible and are poisonous to humans, causing irritation of the throat and having a powerful laxative effect. Pineapples can take up to two years to reach their full size (20lbs), so generally people pick and eat them before they are done maturing. Standing a pineapple upside down (leaf on bottom) will cause it to ripen much faster. Pineapple juice is a diuretic, and it has also been used to induce labor. The Bromelain enzyme in pineapples breaks down proteins. This means that you can use pineapple or pineapple juice as a meat tenderiser.…

Origins of Sushi

Posted on April 19, 2012

Did you know that sushi was the world’s earliest form of Tupperware?  Sushi became popular when Japanese fishermen realized that you could wrap fish and other meats inside sticky rice to cause it to ferment much more quickly.  The fermentation of the meant prevented damaging bacteria from being able to thrive within it. Sushi has a very interesting origin that has lasted for centuries and continues to be a very popular food source today.  Sushi is made with a combination of shellfish, cooked or raw fish, vegetables, and seasoned rice.  Although Sushi is most commonly linked to the Japanese heritage, it actually began in China during the 7th Century. At that time, any fish caught had to be preserved.  The only method possible was by fermentation.  Raw fish was cleaned,…

Origins of Animal Crackers

Posted on April 18, 2012

  Animal Crackers refer to a particular type of sweet-tasting crackers that are shaped into various circus animals. In the late 1800’s, animal-shaped cookies (or “biscuits” in British terminology) were introduced from England to the United States known as “Animals”.  The earliest recipe of “Animals” we found in print appeared in a commercial cooking book published in 1883. “1 bbl flour, 40 lbs sugar, 16 lard, 12 oz soda, 8 ozs ammonia, 6 3/4 gals milk.”-Secrets of the Bakers and Confectioners’ Trade, J. D. Hounihan, April 1, 1883 (p. 96) The demand for these cookies grew to the point that bakers began to produce them domestically. In 1902, the most popular product we know today as Animal Crackers (Barnum’s Animals Crackers) was officially introduced…

A History of Cheese

Posted on April 17, 2012

Did you know that cheese is one of the oldest and most diverse foods in the world?  Every major civilization in history has records of their creation and use of cheese. Archaeologists have discovered that as far back as 6000 BC cheese had been made from cow’s and goat’s milk and stored in tall jars. Egyptian tomb murals of 2000 BC show butter and cheese being made, and other murals which show milk being stored in skin bags suspended from poles demonstrate a knowledge of dairy husbandry at that time. Cheesemaking, thus, gradually evolved from two main streams.  The first was the liquid fermented milks such as yoghurt, koumiss and kefir.  The second through allowing the milk to acidify to form curds and whey.…

Origins of Eggs Benedict

Posted on April 16, 2012

Did you know that historians attribute the invention of Eggs Benedict to two different events?  It seems that, in a great coincidence, there are two verifiable stories surrounding their invention which both occurred within two years of one-another.  Humanity’s palette must have been craving the dish! 1860s -Credit is given to Delmonico’s Restaurant, the very first restaurant or public dining room ever opened in the United States. In the 1860’s, a regular patron of the restaurant, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, finding nothing to her liking and wanting something new to eat for lunch, discussed this with Delmonico’s Chef Charles Ranhofer (1936-1899), Ranhofer came up with Eggs Benedict. He has a recipe called Eggs a’ la Benedick (Eufa a’ la Benedick) in his cookbook called The Epicurean published…

Food Finds about Pecans

Posted on April 14, 2012

Did you know that the pecan is American in origin?  The name “pecan” is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.” The pecan is heart healthy and contains antioxidants, 19 vitamins and minerals, fiber and “healthy fats.” One of the mineral components is zinc, which is important in producing testosterone in both males and females, key in sexual desire. Native Americans utilized and cultivated wild pecans in the 1500s. It is the only tree native to North America and is considered one of the most valuable North American nut species. Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents. Pecans were…

Know Your Pie

Posted on April 13, 2012

Pie is an extremely diverse dish.  There are thousands of varieties worldwide that are sweet, savory, salty, or any flavor you might imagine.  What makes a dish qualify as a pie is simply having a filling wrapped with dough (usually pastry).  The difference between pie and cobbler is that a cobbler only has dough (usually biscuit) on top. Twenty-Five Pie Finds Mince Meat Pie Chicken Pot Pie Strawberry Pie Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Blueberry Pie Blackberry Pie Cherry Pie Apple Pie Peach Pie Apricot Pie Pear Pie Shepherd’s Pie Coconut Cream Pie Banana Cream Pie Pumpkin Pie Vanilla Cream Pie Chocolate Cream Pie Apple-Sour Cream-Raisin Pie Boysenberry Pie Turtle Pie Pecan Pie Crab Apple-Currant Pie Pudding Pie Cheeseburger Pie Raspberry Pie  

10 Things You Should Know about American Cheese

Posted on April 12, 2012

Did you know?  The process we currently use to make American cheese was actually invented by a German chemist.  The term “American cheese” was originally used as a general descriptor for any cheese made in America (as the literal meaning would imply).  However, today it refers to a specific style of cheese, and that style is distinctly German in origin! American cheese is typically white, but it is often dyed to look yellow. It was originally made from a mix of blended cheeses, but today it is manufactured from a set of ingredients. It is illegal to sell American cheese as “cheese”.  It must be sold as “processed cheese” or “cheese product”. In Canada, the exact same product is often sold as “Canadian cheese”.…

A History of Licorice

Posted on April 12, 2012

Did you know that the licorice plant grows like a weed?  That’s because it is one!  The licorice plant, a shrub, is officially a weed. It is about four feet tall with purplish flowers and grows in hot, dry places. Licorice root is one of the most popular herbs in the world. Its botanical name comes from the Greek words meaning “sweet root.” The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Hindus recognized the natural medicinal qualities of licorice. Licorice helps relieve the pains that accompany certain types of ulcers, and it is good for the adrenal glands. Carbenoxolone, a compound derived from licorice root, may help slow the effects of aging on the brain. Licorice root is a botanical ingredient in modern Chinese medicines used…

A History of Fondue

Posted on April 11, 2012

The delicious dish that we know as Fondue was actually invented out of necessity in the 18th century. Swiss villagers, separated from large towns by the long, freezing winters, were rarely able to enjoy fresh food. Instead, most of the villagers relied on foods like bread and cheese, which were made in the summer and had to last through the fall and winter months. Stale cheese (and bread for that matter) becomes very hard and doesn’t taste that pleasant. The villagers found if they heated the cheese over a fire it improved the taste and was much easier to eat. Furthermore, they discovered that the hard bread would soften when dipped into the cheese. Soon they began mixing in wine and other seasonings to…

Everything You Need to Know about Cinnamon

Posted on April 10, 2012

Did you know that most cinnamon you buy in the United States is not cinnamon at all, but actually a spice called “Cassia”?  Often referred to as “real cinnamon” or “true cinnamon”, Ceylon cinnamon  is native to Sri Lanka. This cinnamon is lighter brown in color, papery and brittle and the bark coils into a single spiraled quill.  Ceylon cinnamon is rarely found in United States and has significantly less of the phenolic compound cinnamaldehyde, which imparts the spicy cinnamon flavor and aroma desired by American palates. Instead, this cinnamon has a more delicate and complex flavor, with citrus, floral and clove notes.  There is an Indian type of cinnamon as well known as Dalchini.  In India, where it is cultivated on the hills…

A History of Peeps

Posted on April 6, 2012

Did you know that peeps are basically indestructible?  Not water, nor powerful acids, nor powerful bases dissolve them.  That’s one tough little tweeter! Food Finds about Peeps Peeps have been the #1 non-chocolate easter candy for over 20 years. In 1953, it took 27 hours to make a peep because of time-consuming details like hand-painted eyes. Today, it takes 6 minutes to make a peep. The leading peep-eating champion ate 102 peeps in 30 minutes. The leading speed-eating champ ate 7 peeps in 30 seconds. The main colors of peeps in order of popularity are yellow, pink, lavender, and white. Peeps have a shelf life of 2 years. They do not dissolve in water, sulfuric acid, or sodium hydroxide.  It is commonly believed that…

A History of Cadbury Eggs

Posted on April 5, 2012

Since 1923 Cadbury, creme eggs have been an English Easter tradition! First introduced to the US in 1971 and a hit ever since. Selling over 50 millions eggs every easter season. Food Finds about Cadbury Creme Eggs The first chocolate eggs were produced in 1875 wrapped in easter colors. Although the creme egg was launched in 1971, sales for it took off in 1975, thanks to the power of television advertising. The factory where 1.5 million eggs can be made daily is in Birmingham, England. Cadbury Creme Eggs are sold annually from New Year’s Day to Easter. In 2010 Cadbury was bought by Kraft Foods. The eggs have a chocolate shell and fondant filling. The original foil wrappers were green, red, yellow, and blue.…

A History of the Easter Egg

Posted on April 4, 2012

Did you know that some European children still go door to door begging for Easter eggs just like American children do with candy on Halloween?  The practice is called pace-egging. Easter falls in the spring, the yearly time of renewal, when the earth renews itself after a long, cold winter. The word Easter comes to us from the Norsemen’s Eostur, Eastar, Ostara, and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre, all of which involve the season of the growing sun and new birth. The Easter Bunny arose originally as a symbol of fertility, due to the rapid reproduction habits of the hare and rabbit. The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a…

A History of Chocolate Bunnies

Posted on April 3, 2012

Did you know that hollow chocolate bunnies are a by-product of WWII cocoa rationing?  That way, they could keep their appealing shape while using significantly less material. Smithsonian magazine reports that the chocolate bunny has existed since the 19th century when it was initially created in Germany. states that these treats were hidden for kids to find around springtime to commemorate the season. Whitman’s Chocolates produced chocolate bunnies as a take on the tradition in the mid 1800s, but not everyone was keen on the idea just yet. In 1890, Robert Strohecker was the first American shop owner to use a five-foot-tall chocolate bunny as an Easter promotion in his drug store. However, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century when…

A History of Jelly Beans

Posted on April 2, 2012

Did you know that the origin of the jelly bean is still unknown?  There are suspicions, however, that they descend from Turkish Delight, a treat that was popular in Biblical times. Jordan Almonds, which are the other possible origin of the modern day jelly bean are also made this way and were made popular in the 1600’s in France. The first appearance of what would become the modern day jelly bean was promoted to Union Soldiers during the Civil War. It takes 7 to 21 days to make a jelly bean. There are 130 calories and 37 grams of sugar in one serving of jelly beans which equals about 35 jelly beans. In the early 20th century, a “jelly-bean” was slang for a man…

A History of the “Tater”

Posted on March 31, 2012

Did you know that we have grown space potatoes?  In 1995, potato plants were taken into space with the space shuttle Columbia. This marked the first time any food was ever grown in space. The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family (also known as the nightshades). The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species. Potatoes were first introduced outside the Andes region four centuries ago, and have become an integral part of much of the world’s cuisine. It is the world’s fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize. Long-term storage of potatoes…

Udon noodles, eaten by billions every day

Posted on March 30, 2012

Did you know that a Buddhist priest was the first one to bring Udon noodles from China?  Kūkai, a Buddhist priest, traveled to China around the beginning of the 9th century to study. Sanuki Province claimed to have been the first to adopt udon from Kūkai. Enni, a Rinzai monk, went to China in the 13th century; Hakata claimed to have produced udon based on Enni’s recipe. Udon is usually served hot as noodle soup in its simplest form as kake udon, in a mildly flavoured broth called kakejiru which is made of dashi, soy sauce (shōyu), and mirin. It is usually topped with thinly chopped scallions. Other common toppings include tempura, often prawn or kakiage (a type of mixed tempura fritter), or abura…

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