From the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates, to the coast of the Mediterranean and down into Egypt stretches the Fertile Crescent. Aptly known as the “cradle of civilization,” this land bore witness to many of the earliest human settlements. Historians have documented the development of basic architecture, tools, weapons, agriculture and a reliance upon the foods grown in cultivated fields to as far back as 9,000 B.C.E. Cereals, grasses and grains were among the first crops to be harvested and prepared, usually by grinding them into meal and cooking them over a fire. Grains were also ground into flour for bread, or fermented and brewed into beer. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Food History’ Category
Posted in Classes, Education, Food History, Grains, Rice, Flours & Beans, United States, tagged ancient grains, barley, cereals, cooking, Emmer, farro, food, Four Star Farms, grains, grasses, hulled barley, maize, Maria Speck, pearled barley, protein, spelt, wheat on February 7, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Champagne. Cheese. Cake. Caviar. So many goodies start with the letter “C” – and many of them are quite luxurious foodstuffs. Caviar is one of the most luxurious of all. At the extreme, caviar has been packaged in solid gold tins and sold at secret auction to the highest bidder. (more…)
Posted in Education, Farms & Gardens, Food History, Produce, Producer Profile, tagged Ananas Reinette, apples, Black Gilliflower, Duchess of Oldenburg, Esopus Spitzenburg, heirloom, heirloom apples, Hudson’s Golden Gem, Lady Apple, Roxbury Russet, Scott Farm, Sheep’s Nose, Zeke Goodband on October 6, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Crisp autumnal air. The sweet smell of leaves. Dashes of yellows and oranges and reds and browns. A quintessential New England fall. And nothing says fall to me like apples and apple picking.
As a child, roaming the orchards, climbing up the ladder to pick the fruit, and biting into a juicy red McIntosh was what thrilled me. Now that I’m a bit older, I still love to pick apples but, as a produce buyer here at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, what really gets my motor going is the sheer variety of apples available today.
There are, of course, the old standbys like Granny Smith and Galas. The New England staples like Cortlands and Macouns. And, with the help of seed savers and the grace of a handful of dedicated growers, like Zeke Goodband of Scott Farm in Dummerston, Vermont, there are heirloom apples. The names themselves are reason to cheer: Ananas Reinette, Hudson’s Golden Gem, Duchess of Oldenburg. (more…)
Posted in Cheese, Education, Food History, Italy, tagged blue cheese, Cheese, food, Gorgonzola, Gorgonzola a due paste, Gorgonzola antico, Gorgonzola del nonno, Gorgonzola Dolce, Gorgonzola Piccante, PDO, Penicillium gorgonzola, Protected Designation of Origin, Roquefort, Stracchino, transhumance on September 28, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Lombardy is a region in the northernmost part of Italy, sitting on the country’s Alpine border with Switzerland. The terrain is varied, ranging from plains in the southern part, to the Alpine heights of the Valtellina in the north. Lakes stretch out along the countryside and rivers criss-cross the verdant landscape. Lombardy is a part of Italy that is home to many well-known cheeses: Taleggio, Mascarpone, Provolone, Grana Padano and Gorgonzola. If you were to follow the Po River, heading west out of Lombardy, you would arrive in the Piedmont, another rich cheese-making region. The town of Bra, home to possibly the most widely respected cheese festival in the world, is situated in this part of Italy. Like their neighbors in Lombardy, cheesemakers of the Piedmont make Taleggio and Gorgonzola. Among the many cheeses in their canon, are other familiar names like Raschera, Robiola di Roccaverano and Castelmagno. (more…)
Posted in Beer, Beverages, Food History, Germany, Producer Profile, tagged Beer, Minim Order, Molasse basin, Munich, Oktoberfest, Paulaner, Paulaner Brauerei, St. Francis of Paola on September 23, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Paulaner Brauerei (Brewery) first opened its doors in 1634, the same year that the citizens of Boston purchased (for 30 pounds!) the land that became Boston Common, the country’s first public park. Like many breweries in Europe, this one was founded by monks – in this case, the Minim friars of the Cloister Neudeck ob der Au. The brewery was named after St. Francis of Paola, the founder of the Minim Order. (more…)
There are a few things one learns pretty quickly as a cheesemonger. Among them are that brebis generally come from the Pyrenées and small-format goat cheeses are closely associated with the Loire Valley. Of course, there are exceptions but, as general rules, these guidelines have served me pretty well. (more…)
Posted in Cheese, Education, FAQs, Food History, Pairings, tagged Brie, Brillat-Savarin, camembert, Champagne, Cheese, Cremont, Délice de Bourgogne, double cream, double-crème, food, Le Magnum, Parmigiano Reggiano, Petit Suisse, triple cream, triple-crème on February 10, 2011 | 8 Comments »
The terms “double-crème” and “triple-crème” are bandied about a lot in cheese shops. While most folks have a general idea of what they mean in terms of texture (creamy, spreadable!) and flavor (buttery, lactic!) for a cheese, these terms actually have very specific meanings. (more…)
Posted in Candy & Confections, Christmas, Food History, Pairings, Portugal, Travelogues, tagged Alentejo, Ameixas d'Elvas, Elvas, food, Greengage, plum, plums, Portugal, sugar plum, sugarplum on November 11, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
When is a plum not a plum? When it is a sugarplum or a plum pudding! Judging by the names of these traditional British Christmas treats, one would think that both include some quantity of plum. Not true! For centuries, the term ‘sugarplum’ has referred to any type of dried fruit, made into a small, vaguely plum-shaped sweet. During Victorian times, these sugary candies sometimes contained raisins or currants which were called plums.
A couple of years ago, on one of my many visits home, I bought a cheapie pot of basil at the supermarket. That pot of basil still sits on the window sill in the kitchen at my parents’ house and my mother plucks leaves from it when she makes a Caprese salad or needs some fresh seasoning. It doesn’t look too pretty now – it’s rather tall and skinny with a stick that helps to keep it upright – but it continues to be a fragrant and delicious addition to family meals. (more…)
Tomato season recently kicked off here in New England – a sign that we are in the mid to late stages of summer. Technically a fruit, tomatoes are treated as a vegetable for cooking purposes. There exist more than 5,000 varieties globally and we are increasingly seeing heirloom tomatoes available at markets here in New England. (more…)