Food Facts & Lore, Monday Magazine

This Week in Food History – 09/18/2017

In addition to being National Potato Month (see last week’s article), September is also National Mushroom Month. Mushrooms are easy to forage plants and Hunter-gatherers were familiar with them, though consumption by ancient people was certainly not associated with haute cuisine, that is unless you consider the Roman table of course. Modern cultivation begins sometime in 16th century Europe; France to be precise. We owe the delicacy to Olivier de Serres, a French agriculturist who developed a method of cultivation in 1600. The name “mushroom” comes from Late Latin “Mussirio” and Old French “Mousseron.”

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

September 18 is National Cheeseburger Day – As with many other trendy foods (we’ve seen this with Sundaes, for instance), several source claim creative rights to the hamburger and the cheeseburger. While the latter is a recent creation, the meat patty itself has been around since the 11th century. It was common fare to the Mongols during their long horseback journeys. Later, sailors later brought the notion of the meat patty to Hamburg, Germany. In early 1900’s New York City, the hamburger was a popular and convenient businessman’s meal. Chef Lionel Steinberger (what a coincidence!) of Pasadena, California, added cheese to the meat patty sometime around 1925 after a chance encounter with a homeless man who suggested the addition. Louis Ballast, owner of Denver, Colorado, Humpty Dumpty Drive-In was awarded the trade name “cheeseburger” in 1934.

September 19 is National Butterscotch Pudding Day – It seems we’ve talked about butterscotch more than once already. Let’s talk about pudding. Sweet, chocolate, vanilla or butterscotch desserts come to mind, but the pudding was originally meat-based and sausage-like. The reference is found in the name itself. Pudding is from Old French, “boudin” and Latin “botellus.” Both words refer to sausage. The first sweet puddings appear in 17th Century England. 19th century puddings closely resemble cake. Plum pudding is a typical example and the precursor to today’s sweet and creamy dessert.

September 20 is National Rum Punch Day – We’ll skip the history on this one and go straight for the punch bowl. We found this recipe on Food & Wine. It sounds absolutely divine, and does not use the syrups many other recipes rely on. The flavor in this one comes straight from the rum and fruit juices. Let us know what you think if you ever try it, or a variation thereof. Picture if you will this list of ingredients: Mint leaves, light rum, aged rum, orange juice, mango nectar, pineapple juice and pineapple wedges. The Recipe is here: Rum Punch @ Food & Wine.

September 21 is International Banana Festival – Bananas come from South America; the festival is Tennessee-born and raised. By 1880, cargo trains were equipped with ice box cars that made it possible to transport otherwise perishable tropical fruit to the Midwest where the ice block supply could be replenished prior to continuing north to Chicago. The town of Fulton, TN, owned the only ice house on the way and became known as “The Banana Capital of the World.” Fulton hosted the first Banana Festival in the late 1880’s. Other towns in different states followed suit over time. There is a Banana Festival somewhere in the US anytime from August through September.

September 22 is National Ice Cream Cone Day – The first cone was an impromptu invention by Ernest A. Hamwi, a waffle-style pastry vendor at the St. Louis World Fair (1904). When a fellow vendor ran out of dishes to serve ice cream, Hamwi offered his folded pastry to scoop and serve instead. It was an immediate success. However, the first ice cream cone patent was issued a year earlier to New York City established Italian immigrant Italo Marchiony. But the state of Missouri marked the history of the cone again by 1906 when Stephen Sullivan became the first independent ice cream cone manufacturer. The ice cream cone used to be called “Ice cream cornucopia.”

September 23 is National Great American Pot Pie Day – Hmm, this one will probably take on entirely new significance before too long, but let’s stick to the topic at hand for now. You may have purchased pot pies from the frozen section at the grocery store. They look exactly like a crusted pie with filling and they are not pot pies at all. The true pot pie dates to the 18th century. It had a top crust, but no bottom crust, and it was cooked in open-hearth kettles or Dutch ovens; never baked. The Dictionary of Americanisms offers this reference: “The standard dinner dish at log-rollings, house-raisings and harvest days, was a large pot-pie.”

September 24 is National Cherries Jubilee Day – We welcome Chef Auguste Escoffier back to our table for this one. He created the dish for one of Queen Victoria’s late 1880’s Jubilee celebrations. Her love of cherries was notable enough for her personal chef, Charles Elme Francatelli, to mention it on numerous occasions. Traditionally, Cherries Jubilee was served as a side dish to venison and did not include ice cream, as the American version does today. We found a delicious, 2-step recipe on Real Simple. The original Cherry Jubilee recipe involves setting brandy-preserved cherries on fire. This recipe skips the flamboyant step. Keep it safe and simple, we say. Go to it: Cherries Jubilee Recipe @ Real Simple.

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