Podcast and Other Fun News


Hi all,

I’m very excited to announce that the first episode of the Delicious History Podcast has landed! It’s about cookies! You can find it here on iTunes.

I’m also in the process of moving the blog over to a new home http://www.delicioushistory.org

All future blog posts will be available at the new site, but I will still be putting up links here during the transition period.

Thanks for joining me on this grand new adventure and don’t forget to subscribe to the new website and the podcast!

Passover Special – Matzo


Square matzo

Shalom, Food History Lovers.

This week you can look forward to a couple of articles thanks to it being the Easter season. We’re kicking it off with a Passover-centric post.

Matzo (also known as matzoh, matza, and matzah) is an unleavened bread that is traditionally eaten by Jewish people during the week-long Passover holiday. The Torah states that ordinary leavened breads, known as chametz, are forbidden during Passover. In fact, an entire household must be cleansed of any kind of bread or food that contain these kinds of grains. The punishment for eating chametz during Passover is called Kareth, also known as spiritual excision. This is one of the most severe punishments in Judaism and essentially means that one is cut off from their Jewiwsh brethren.

Matzo is important to Passover because of its symbolism. Passover itself is a commemoration of the Israelites escape from Egypt. In the book of Exodus, it says that the Israelites had to leave in such haste that they couldn’t wait for their bread dough to rise, therefore, when it was baked it became matzo. As such, the bread symbolises that haste. There are numerous explanations behind the symbolism of matzo.

The other symbolic reason for eating matzo is called lechem oni, “poor man’s bread.” It serves as a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like in servitude. Also, leaven symbolises corruption and pride as it ‘puffs up’ the bread.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s little Passover Special snapshot. Stay tuned for an Easter special later this week.

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to hear it in your earbuds? If so, I humbly ask you to take the time to donate $1 to the Delicious History Podcast Project.Only $500 is needed make this dream a reality, and all donations over $10 receive a reward! 

The Delicious History Podcast Project


Greetings, Food History Lovers!

It was a year ago that I first started this blog. It’s been an amazing journey so far, and I’ve be fortunate enough to find that there are quite a few people out there who are interested in the tasty world of Food History. I now want to take the next step in sharing my food related historical tidbits with the world by creating a companion podcast to go with the website. I think it will be an fantastic way to build a larger following, as well as prove how fun and delicious history can be. Who doesn’t love a little food and humour with their education

Now here’s the tricky part. Thanks to a recent redundancy, I need your help you make this dream a reality. Podcasts need equipment, software, media hosting, artwork, and music – all of which need to be paid for. Because I can’t rely on the kindness of retailers to simply give me the resources I need, I’m hoping that some of my beloved readers can help me to get Delicious History onto the internet airwaves.The best part about pledging to the Delicious History Podcast Project is that every donation entitles you to a reward. That’s right, if we hit our target you not only get Delicious History in your earbuds, you also get a BONUS PRIZE. What’s not to love?

So if you love food, history or my good self, please help get Delicious History into an iTunes store near you! If you also wouldn’t mind reblogging or sharing the project with your friends and other fellow history lovers, I’d be eternally grateful.

Simply follow the link below for more info or to make a pledge –

Delicious History Podcast Project

Thank you in advance for supporting Delicious History and for making this first year in the blogosphere truly amazing.

St Patrick’s Day Special – The Origin of Guinness


A vintage Guinness Advertisement used in the 1950s – 1970s

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Food History Lovers!

To celebrate this amazingly booze sodden day, we’re going to be incredibly stereotypical and borderline offensive by looking at the origin of Guinness.

What if I were to tell you that someone wanted to make beer in order to improve the health of the unwashed masses? It’s okay if you’re laughing at this notion. In fact, I’ll even give you a moment.

Finished? Great.

As laughable as this idea is, it’s actually quite true. Furthermore, in the 18th Century, it made perfect sense. This was a time when no one understood micro-organisms or how disease is spread. People routinely drank from the same water in which they dumped their garbage and sewage. As a result people died, and this made nearly everyone avoid water entirely. Instead, they drank alcoholic beverages. And no, you should not take this as a sign to start polluting your own water in order to justify drinking alcohol for hydration.

Popular spirits such as gin were being consumed en masse. Because of the high alcohol content, this resulted in a significant rise is violence, poverty and crime. To help heal society, some turned to brewing beer. It was lower in alcohol, the process of brewing killed the germs that made the water dangerous, and it was nutritious. No, really. Furthermore, the art of beer making was respected and honoured, and those who did it were considered to be do-gooders. Monks brewed it, Christians brewed it and aspiring young entrepreneurs like Arthur Guinness brewed it.

At the age of 27, Arthur Guinness had achieve far more than I probably will in a lifetime. In 1752, his Godfather Arthur Price, the Archbishop of Cashel, bequeathed £100 to him in his will. In true entrepreneural  fashion, Guinness invested the money and in 1755 bought a brewery at Leixlip, just 17 km from Dublin. This venture into the world of brewing was clearly successful, because in 1759 Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the St. James Gate Brewery for £45 per annum. Ten years later, Guinness first exported his ale to Great Britain.

Guinness’s sales soared from 350,000 barrels in 1868 to 779,000 barrels in 1876. In October 1886 Guinness became a public company, and was averaging sales of 1,138,000 barrels a year. This was despite the brewery’s refusal to either advertise or offer its beer at a discount. Even though Guinness owned no Public Houses, the company was valued at £6 million and shares were twenty times oversubscribed, with share prices rising to a 60% premium on the first day of trading.

The Guinness Brewery

Clearly, Guinness has remained successful today, but this isn’t all that the company has been know for over the years. Guinness has also been dedicated to being a company that has the interests of common people in mind. This is evident in Arthur Guinness’ reason for starting the company – to help improve health. This charitable ideal has lived on. Throughout the centuries, Guinness has continued to prove that they don’t just want to make a profit, they want to make a difference. They started by paying better wages than any other employer in Ireland. Then they decided they should provide an entire slate of services to improve the lives of their workers. With the passing of decades, they became one of the most generous, life-changing employers the world had ever seen.

Guinness also showed unparalleled upport for the war effort. During World War II, the company promised every British soldier a bottle of Guinness with his Christmas meal. However, there was a problem. Their manpower was depleted because so many of its workers were serving in the military. Despite this setback, they were determined to keep their promise. The brewery operated around the clock, but there simply weren’t enough employees. Clearly the generous spirit of the company had been passed on though, because retired workers showed up to volunteer their time. They were then followed by workers from competing breweries. By Christmas, every soldier had his pint.

Deeds like these are prominent throughout the history of the Guinness company, and are just as inspiring as some of the family members themselves. One heir received five million pounds for a wedding gift, but then moved with his new wife into a poor neighborhood to draw attention to the poverty in the land. We don’t hear about many other heirs doing this in the media.

Given the generous nature of the Guinness company, it is hardly surprising that its beer has become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, it’s Irish, so of course it’s going to be consumed in vast quantities on a day that celebrates Irish culture and heritage. However, I think that the symbol Guinness  offers is far more significant than that. Guinness is a beer that from its very conception was being brewed as a benefit for others. It’s a symbol struggle, national pride and overcoming adversity. As such, I urge you all to have a pint of Guinness today, not as an excuse to  get wasted whilst wearing green, but in honour Arthur, and all those who use the resources at their exposal in order to help others.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Did you enjoy this post? Would you like to hear it in your earbuds? If so, I humbly ask you to take the time to donate $1 to the Delicious History Podcast Project.Only $500 is needed make this dream a reality, and all donations over $10 receive a reward! 

WWII Ration Week Update


You may have noticed that I only got up to day 2 of my rationing week, at least on the blog. Unfortunately I became very ill during the middle of last week and was unable to finish the experiment or to blog.

I can however assure you that I made it through five days and found the experience incredibly rewarding.  I also have every intention of doing this again for ANZAC Day so I can share some more amazing rationing recipes and experiences with you all.

WWII Ration Week: Day Two


Day Two started on a somewhat less healthy note than Day One. Whoops. Let’s have a look.

Breakfast
Bacon Buttie
Tea

Lunch
Leftover ‘Everything In’ stew
A piece of wholemeal bread
Tea

Afternoon Tea
Mandarin
ANZAC Biscuit
Tea

Dinner
Bacon and vegetable pastie

One may think that I’m getting sick of eating the stew by now, but it’s quite the contrary. Admittedly, as a young woman who is usually only cooking for herself, I’m quite used to preparing meals to last over several days. Besides, the stew has only gotten more delicious with each passing day

My only other real observation for the day is that I’m quite sure that I’m going to have no problem with making my meat, vegetables and fruit last me for the entire week. To be honest, I highly doubt that I even eat 1.1kg of meat in an ordinary week. What I’m discovering is that it’s the butter and oil that are going to be the biggest issue during the last few days. As such, I’ve been saving as much drippings as possible.

One other quick issue is the fact that I work for a chocolate company and have had to be incredibly resilient about samples. In case you were wondering, adults were allowed 90g of sweets during the rationing period.

In closing, here is my recipe for the bacon and vegetable pasties I made tonight. They were incredibly tasty, and a lot less time consuming to make than I originally anticipated. The only downside is that I only have roughly a quarter of my butter ration left. As you’ll notice, I had to get a bit creative.

Ingredients

Pastry

1 cup flour (I used wholemeal)
3 tsp baking powder
1 large pinch of salt
6 tbs of butter (I substituted dripping for 3 tbs)
Herbs and pepper, to taste
Water, to bind

Filling

You really can use anything you like, but I used:

1 rasher bacon, diced
1 small potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 large mushrooms, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
Mixed herbs (I used parsley and chives from my garden)

Method

Preheat your oven at 200°C

Pastry

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the baking power, salt and any herbs you may like to add

Rub in the butter, or any substitute that you’re using

Bind the mixture with water. I recommend using a small amount of time, as to not get the mixture too wet

Divide the pastry into 4 pieces and roll out each one into a circle

Filling

Cook the carrots and potatos until medium soft

In a separate pan, cook off the bacon. Keep the drippings.

Add the rest of the vegetables and your herbs until cooked. Add the bacon back in.  I also added a gravy effect by stirring in some  of my leftover stew broth with flour.

Put the mixture in the middle of each pastry circle

Wet the edges of the pastry with just a little bit of water. I recommend using your fingertips

Pull over one side of the pastry and press the edges down. I also used a fork to make an edging effect.

Prick the top of the pastry and brush with a small amount of milk

Cook for 25 – 30 minutes, until crisp and golden

Eat!

WWII Ration Week: Day One


Welcome to Day 1 of my WWII Rationing Week. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I highly suggest you read this post.

Let’s start by looking at what I consumed throughout the day

Breakfast
– Porridge made from whole grain rolled oats and sweetened with sultanas
– Tea

Morning Tea
– Grapes
– Tea with milk

Lunch
– ‘Everything In’ Stew.
Essentially this was chuck steak and whatever vegetables I felt like. This is a great and easy dish because it’s designed to use up whatever leftover vegetables or meat you have in the fridge.
– A piece of wholemeal bread.

Afternoon Tea

– Homemade ANZAC Biscuit
– Tea

Dinner
– Leftover stew
– A piece of wholemeal bread.

I think Day 1 went incredibly well. This is hardly surprising considering that I had a lot of supplies to work with. However, I did ensure that I stayed in a ‘waste not, want not’ mindset in order to make life a little easier later in the week. Here a few ways in which I did this:

– The chuck steak that I used for my stew had an incredibly high fat to meat ratio. As a cheaper cut this is hardly surprising. Instead of throwing away the fat-riddled meat, I kept it, along with my vegetable cuttings to use for stock later in the week
– I also kept the drippings from when I fried the steak. This is going to be quite important later when I start running low on butter and cooking oil

Yesterday I mentioned that I don’t use a great deal of butter or sugar and claimed that I would have absolutely no problem with them being rationed.

Wrong.

You may have noticed that I mentioned making ANZAC Biscuits. They turned out incredibly well, however, they also made me fly through roughly half my butter and sugar rations for the week. As such, judging from some of the other dessert recipes I want to try, I’m only going to have enough for one more sweet treat. I will also need to get a little more creative when ordinary recipes call for butter.

To finish off today’s entry I thought I would share my ANZAC Biscuit recipe with you. For all of you non-Australian or New Zealanders, these biscuits became popular with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS) during WWI. They were renowned for their durability and long life,  which was perfect for families to send to soldiers fighting over the other side of the world.

My poorly photographed ANZAC Bicuits

Ingredients

1 cup flour
(I used wholemeal. This was the standard fare during WWII)
1 Cup sugar
(I used brown because it’s what happened to be in my cupboard)

1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup rolled oats
125g butter/margarine
1 tbs golden syrup
(I used maple syrup. I will justify this because it’s what I had in my cupboard and it therefore saved me having to go and buy a whole other product. Although this may take away some authenticity, it’s adhering to the practice of making do with what one had in order to save money)
2 tbs boiling water
1 tsp bicarb soda

Method

Mix the flour, sugar and coconut together

Mix the syrup/treacle and butter together and warm gently until thoroughly mixed.

Mix the boiling water and bicarbonate of soda together and add to the syrup/butter mixture and mix in well

Add the wet mix into the dry mix and bind together

Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto a lightly greased tray or parchment paper and cook for 10 minutes at 180C, or until golden brown all over

Remove and leave to cool for 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack to finish cooling

Eat!

What does German Chocolate Cake, French Toast and White Russians Have in Common?


Hello food history lovers!

Today I intend to answer a question that has been plaguing mankind since the dawn of time. A question that perplexed the likes of Gallileo, Socrates and Plato. A question of such magnitude, that I almost fear answering it.

What does German Chocolate Cake, French Toast and White Russians have in common?

Three seemingly unrelated consumables. All delicious. All fairing from different corners of the Earth. What could possibly link them?

The answer?

None of them were invented in the countries that grace their names.

Are you terribly shocked and appalled? That’s a natural reaction. I’ll give you a moment to fetch your smelling salts…

Recovered? Excellent. Let us then move onto the exploration of the origins of these three individuals and how each of them acquired their incredibly misleading names.

 

This, in actual fact, needs to get in me immediately

German Chocolate Cake

The roots of this rich and delicious mistress can be traced back to 1852 when an American by the name of Sam German developed a brand of dark baking chocolate for Baker’s Chocolate Company. The product, German’s Sweet Chocolate, was named after him.

In 1957, the original recipe for ‘German’s Chocolate Cake’ was sent into a Dallas newspaper by a local homemaker. The recipe utilized German’s dark baking chocolate, and it became quite popular. General Foods, which owned the Baker’s brand, took notice and distributed the cake recipe to other newspapers across the country. Sales of Baker’s Chocolate is said to have increased by 73% and the cake itself became a national staple. The possessive form, ‘German’s’, was dropped in subsequent publications, which resulted in it being referred to as ‘German Chocolate Cake’. The outcome? The false impression of a German origin for the dessert.

Nom nom, French Toast

French Toast

French toast existed long before France was established as a country. The exact origins of French Toast are unknown, but it’s unsurprising that humans developed the recipe quickly, given that it is traditionally made out of stale bread. Bread has been a staple of most cultures since food preparation first began. Coupling this with a rejection of food wastage (which is really only something that is acceptable in modern society), it’s unsurprising that man had to find a way to make stale bread palatable.

The earliest reference to doing this dates back to 4th century Rome, in a cookbook attributed to Apicius. This style of toast was called Pan Dulcis. The Romans would take the bread and soak it in a milk and egg mixture, and then cook it, typically frying it in oil or butter.

This practice of cooking stale bread became common throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. In fact, the name for French Toast in France is “pain perdu”, which literally means “lost bread”. There are some that still insist that French Toast  originated in France, however, it’s interesting to note that before the French called it “pain perdu”, they called it “pain a la Romaine” (Roman bread).

So why is this clever concoction attributed to the French? One theory is that it’s reminiscent of French cooking before the invention of proper refrigeration. It’s said that many of their rich, heavy and creamy sauces were created to hide the fact that the meat or fish in the dish was, or was very nearly off.

Me thinks this would go quite well with the German Chocolate Cake

White Russians

This origin story is quite short, and most definitely sweet.

The White Russian is the sister cocktail of the Black Russian – a drink concocted from vodka and coffee liqueur. Both initially appeared in 1949 and were invented Belgium Bartender  Gustave Tops. Black Russians transform into White Russians with the simple addition of cream. Neither drink is Russian in origin, but were named due to vodka being the primary ingredient. It is unclear which drink preceded the other.

 

 

BOOM! That’s the sound of knowledge bombs blowing up everywhere. I do love a good debunking, so I naturally loved writing this post. In closing I pose this question – Do you know of any other food names that are misleading or outright incorrect? I’d love to hear about them.

News Update


I haven’t posted in almost a week, and I thought I should explain why.

If you have read the ‘About’ section on Delicious History, you’ll know that I work for a prominent Australian chocolate company. Five days ago that company went into voluntary administration. For all of you non-Australians out there, this is a big deal not only for myself, but for the majority of Australia.

Darrell Lea has been around for 85 years and has been a family owned business throughout. For almost a week, the Australian media has been exploding with stories and opinions on the future of the company. As I’m sure you can imagine, this has kept me rather busy.

|’m about to post the story of my experiences with Darrell Lea growing up, so I thought that I should post this first in order to clarify what’s going on for those who don’t live Down Under.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Cocktail Party: The Mojito


Hello all, welcome back!

We’re up to cocktail number four, albeit a day late. I offer my most sincerest apologies, I was feeling rather under the weather yesterday and needed a little disco nap before getting back on the party bus.

So, at this point of the night those of you who can hold their drink are ordering straight shots and those who are more like me are trying to prove that they’re “not that drunk” by attempting to correctly pronounce words such as onomatopoeia. That is something I seriously do.

Today we’re taking a hop across the water from Mexico to Cuba to taste the rum sodden and utterly delicious Mojito. Once again, the origins of this fruity delight are shrouded in many a controversy, so I’m going to tell just two of the most fascinating tales.

Apparently Ernest Hemmingway loved Mojitos. I think that whoever first spread that story confused the word ‘Mojito’ with ‘Booze’

Our first story claims that the Mojito was created by African slaves working in the sugar cane fields of Cuba in the late 19th Century. Supposedly, the drink’s name comes from the African word “mojo,” which mean “to place a spell.” This tale is however widely contested. Many historians believe that this story seems to be related to, or confused with the origin of the daiquiri, another popular Cuban cocktail made with rum, lime juice, and sugar.

A much more accepted story is that Sir Francis Drake was involved in the creation of the Mojito as far back as the 16th century. Drake was a celebrated naval captain and navigator during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. However, if you were a Spaniard at the time, Drake was an infamous pirate and slave trader who was responsible for the sacking of many ports and towns during the Spanish Armada. These acts persuaded Phillip II of Spain to not only place a bounty on his head, but to also plan an invasion of England.

If I may interject for just one moment – these dual perspectives of Drake are exactly why I adore history. There is almost always conflicting accounts and different ways of looking at situations and people. Some may call this lack of definitiveness frustrating. I call it fascinating.

Legend has it that Sir Richard Drake (an underling of Francis who was of no relation) prepared the first version of the drink using aguardiente, a primitive version of rum, which he mixed with sugar, lime and mint. According to the story, the drink was originally called “El Draque” which was Spanish for The Dragon, which was a homage to Sir Francis. Personally, I think this was just a clever ruse to secretly name it after himself.

From the high seas, the drink supposedly made its way to Cuba when these explorers, or pirates, landed to conduct treasure hunting expeditions throughout The Caribbean and Latin America. Interestingly enough, the fruity concoction was originally consumed for medicinal purposes. I think that sounds a great deal more appetising than the cherry flavoured cough syrup of my childhood. I’ll have to question my mum about why she didn’t just throw hard liquor my way.

Eventually, rum replaced the aguardiente and the Mojito, as we know it today, was born.

Recipe time!

Ingredients

40ml White Rum
30ml Lime Juice
3 Mint Leaves
2 tsp Sugar
Soda Water

Method

This is a really simple one.

Muddle the mint sprigs with the sugar and lime juice in a highball glass. Add the rum and top up with soda water. Garnish with sprig of mint leaves. Consume!

Mmm, refreshing.

I’ll try my best to knock out our next two cocktails over the weekend as promised. Unfortunately, I’m still not feeling 100%. Either way, I’ll make sure they’re served up to you as soon as possible.

Have a great weekend!