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I've been reading On Food And Cooking by McGee, which turned out to be an exellent book. But the chapter on fats is a bit limited and thus dissapointing. For example he never gets into explaining in detail why certain plants or animals have different rates of lipid saturation in their structures.

Any good alternatives? Please do not try to answer or speculate if you are an amateur expert or if you otherwise can't provide a quality resource.

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I'm looking for French recipes from the 18th and 19th centuries that would have been commonly eaten. My dad's grandma and great grandma immigrated from France at the turn of the 20th century, and brought with them all of their handwritten recipes. Unfortunately, when they died, my great uncle threw away all of them before my dad (former professional chef) could save them. Most of my family doesn't care, but I know my dad always wished he could have kept them. For his birthday, I wanted to find as many recipes as I could that would be similar to the ones that got thrown away, and give them to him in a cookbook. I know they wouldn't be the same as family recipes but I think he would like them anyways. I realize this might be a little vague, but I haven't been able to find much myself searching online and what little I have found, I have no way of being sure of their authenticity. Also, if it helps at all, the only recipe he was sure that they had was a recipe for dandelion wine.

Edit: Even if you have some sources for finding some recipes, I'm willing to do legwork for them, and would appreciate it.

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Let me rephrase the question as one user suggested.

Why did lamb/mutton/goat fall out of favour with American diners given how comparatively easy it is to raise them?

I have been following the vintage menus subreddit and noticed most of them would have a lamb/mutton option but fast forward to now I dont see it that often when I walk into a restaurant in USA. Is there a selection bias happening regarding the menus that are being posted, or is there another reason for this shift? Thanks.

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My brain has been sparked by the most recent It's Okay To Be Smart video on spice and aromatics and culture.

Definitely recommend.

Basics are, though, you can vary what spices are available per region, per trade, per climate, etc.; and then a culture developed in a hotter climate is more likely to use spices and integrate them into their rituals, clothing, iconography, trade, and so on. This because many spices, often the most common and valuable, have antimicrobial or preservative or even medicinal properties using their natural (and tasty) defenses.

This is a tiny, simple, elegant way to add super depth to your cultures IMO - just describe the food a bit, "lots of fruits and hot spices" when they sit in at the tavern. "Fermented cabbage and veal". Etc.

It's SUCH a HUGE topic though - how food relates to culture. So I'm thinking just compiling a few 'rules' like this one - spicy foods are more common in hot climates - attached to a (randomizeable!! I love charts.) list of flavorful (heh) types of foods? That would be great, add a ton of variety and roleplaying/storytelling opportunity without requiring a lot of work.

I've done some similar work with languages like druidic, and it's really fruitful (heh). Art, music, or entertainment would be fun. But I'm getting off topic.

Thoughts? Does this get your brain juices flowing as much as mine? Where can I find a good source for ideas, not not too much info to dig through? (Or if you're knowledgeable yourself, please do tell.)

97 points
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I have found a few different places that have said that the patterns scored on bread were a way to identify or validate that a loaf of bread came from a particular baker.

My question is, are there any records of what some of these different scoring patterns were for a given baker, bakery, or region?

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Something recently reminded me of mock chicken, the deli meat that I for some reason loved as a kid but that grossed me out now. I know what it’s made of, but I don’t understand the why. It has chicken product in it, so it can’t be an allergy thing, and with beef and pork it doesn’t seem to be a religion thing. Was there a purpose for its creation?

I know probably sounds a bit crazy, but for some reason I can’t get the question out of my head and feel like I’m missing something obvious.

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Does anyone know any good books on West African Food History, or any type of book that would have this type of information?

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My pet theory is that vocal dislike of Hawaiian pizza is similar to "everything except rap and country". By publicly professing a distaste for perceived inauthentic "low-quality" food, people affirm their good taste, and therefore status. It is not like anything wrong with disliking Hawaiian pizza - me, for example - it just the attitude toward Hawaiian pizza borders on moral outrage.

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I keep finding conflicting information on this. Some sources say that people have been milling and polishing rice for hundreds or even thousands of years. Some sources suggest that the milling was more recent than that, when technology advanced and milling became easier. Other sources say that people did use to mill their rice, but they didn’t completely remove all of the outer coating, so they weren’t left with pure white rice but rather a semi-polished rice, somewhere between what we think of as white or brown.

Specifically, I'm curious about what most people would have had as their daily staple, mostly in east and southeast Asia. Has it always been polished white rice like what we see today? Or would it have been something more like brown rice at some point in history? Does anyone have any more definitive information on this?

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I know that in most of the world, many staple foods such as wheat, corn, soy beans, etc would have traditionally undergone some (usually extensive) processing before being consumed. For instance, corn would be nixtamalized before being ground and turned into tortillas, wheat would be freshly ground and usually made into sourdough bread before commercial yeast was available, nuts and grains would often be soaked for some time, and so on.

I'm looking for more information on this topic and wondering if anyone has any suggestions for resources. Specifically, I'm curious about the processing and cooking of things like quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, barley, and rye, and nuts and seeds too like almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and sunflower seeds.

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We all know the story about the prevention of scurvy by the addition of Lime/Lemon juice to sailors' rations: the origin of the term Limey. This was the result of the first clinical trial, which was performed by James Lind.

The questions: How was the juice stored/preserved? Did any recipes result? Sources encouraged.

Edit: One interesting corollary and partial recipe found. TL;DR - Rum.

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The few examples of these that I've found are foods that have evolved into something else due to some advancement.

Examples:
Coffins: Which have now turned into pot-pies. Originally the crust was a nearly inedible mix of just flour and water, and depending on sources, the meat inside was heavily vinegared. These two things together turned coffins into more of a preservation technique than a food offering, but I have heard of some that weren't as preserved, and were served this way.
Garum: This is just another fermented fish sauce, which there are many of, but I haven't heard of anyone making this specific kind for any reason other than historical curiosity.

My question though is: Does anyone know of any foods that aren't eaten anymore? They don't have to just be foods that evolved into others.

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Most coastal (and many inland) regions of the world are proud of their local seafood dishes, but what places in the world have the most seafood-heavy diets? Are there any places where fish is eaten for practically every meal? Or where seafood prevails as the primary protein to such an extent that other proteins are scarcely eaten?

(Both historical and contemporary info will be welcome)

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I'm reading up on the history of peanut butter - it seems like peanut butter became a thing in the settler coloniser world after the industrial era, long after. So, I'm wondering if there is any evidence of how it was made prior to the industrial gadgets.

I'm in Mexico and I'm gonna guess that here, at least in some parts, it was with the metate even after the industrial era. I'll cross post in r/mexicanfood but I thought I'd ask here.

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Ive heard Creole gumbo has west African roots with the use of okra and sometimes tomato where Cajun has more Native American influence with its use of file and no tomato or okra. Is there a good resource out there where I can read up on all this? Id love to hear more about the African origins and if the original recipes are still being cooked in some of those countries today.

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I was recently researching soap production and it occurred to me that lutefisk was basically making fish soap--animals fats plus a caustic material.

How did we decide to feel it was safe to use a chemical like lye in food preparation? I found that lye has been used around the world--hominy in Mexico, pretzels in Germany, moon cakes in China and more. Were there accidents in the trial and error process?

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Technically not an "Ask" post, but a "what I found out" post. This seems like the most relevant subreddit for contents like this, along with r/CulinaryHistory.

The below is a compilation of sources that I used to trace back the origins of Lor Mee from Singapore, which I have also posted on my personal blog. The reason why I felt compelled to compile them is firstly due to personal interest, but secondly because information on Lor Mee is very scattered on the internet and most of them are not translated into English. Whether they are accurate I cannot know, but they are what I have learnt while reading up on Lor Mee.

What the hell is Lor Mee/Lu Mian

Lor Mee from Bukit Purmei, Photo by MissTamChiak

Lor Mee made by GuaiShuShu, a blogger in Singapore

Lor Mee consists of 2 words which describes the main portions of the dish. "Lor" or 鹵, refers to the thick starchy gravy. "Mee" or 麵, refers to the noodles portion of the meal. Ingredients then top the noodles (like seen above), with ingredients depending on the stall, but commonly seen items are Ngo Hiang, fish cakes, fish, dumplings or eggs in various combinations. This dish is commonly found in Hawker Centers all over Singapore. At the front of the stall where you take your utensils, there will usually be Black Vinegar, Soy Sauce, grated or minced Garlic, Sambal Chilli, Spring onions, sliced Red Chillis that you can add to taste.

Example of Lor Mee stall in Hawker Center

The dish itself is quite heavy - modern versions often have fried items and the gravy is usually savoury and often sour. As such, Lor Mee is not something you eat frequently.

Take note, the above description only applies to the most common version you can find in Singapore, because Lor Mee/Lu Mian is different not only in China and Malaysia, but also from stall to stall! Perhaps the only similarity is the 2 major components of thick gravy and noodles.

If you want to know how the "Singapore" version is made:

The general steps for making Singapore's version of Lor Mee starts with braising meat in a flavourful broth, which will then be used to make the gravy by adding other ingredients (meat, seafood, and/or vegetables depending on style) and a thickener. Noodles and toppings are then cooked separately and served with the gravy mixed in.

Lor Mee Origins

The history and origins of Singapore hawker food dishes is not easy to trace. Many dishes are adaptations of dishes from various regions (like Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is an adaptation of Wenchang chicken from Hainan in China). And then there are dishes like the Singaporean version of Lor Mee which have been adapted and changed so much that it is almost an entirely new dish.

Singapore's version of Lor Mee can be traced back to Fujian, as it is one of the dishes that Fujian emigrants have brought over to Singapore when they were forced to emigrate by the Chinese Civil War. Given this information, it is thus intuitive to look at the Lor Mee in Fujian and compare to Singapore's.

The Fujian province in China has many cities, and in each of the cities where Lor Mee can be found there are major differences in the dish. As far as I can tell from reading Baidu as well as other random articles, there are 3 major styles of Lor Mee that are somewhat similar to Singapore's in China; ZhangZhou, Putian and QuanZhou.

Lets start with the version that is the most dissimilar to Singapore's Lor Mee.

Putian Lor Mee

Just from the picture alone, it already seems like a completely different dish. The Putian or HengHua Lor Mee is more seafood and vegetable based, with ingredients like scallops, clams, prawns, nappa cabbage. Noodles are also thinner and rounder.

Preparation wise, the methods are similar in that a broth is made and then noodles are topped, but the ingredients used are so much different that I believe this is not related to the thick, dark and gooey Singapore's version of Lor Mee.

You can still find this style of Lor Mee in Singapore, but it is a lot more uncommon and will often be labeled as Putian Lor Mee rather than just Lor Mee. Probably not the roots I am looking for!

QuanZhou Lor Mee

Unlike the Singapore's version, QuanZhou Lor Mee's gravy is not made by braising beforehand. Instead, it is made to order and ingredients like shrimp and clam, a pork based broth, and even noodles, are cooked in a wok together. A noteable ingredient is that traditionally, Shacha sauce, a peanut and chilli sauce related to Satay sauce, is added to their version of Lor Mee, giving a nuttier flavour. The addition of Shacha sauce do make me wonder if this version can be considered a cousin of Shacha Noodle.

In case you're wondering what is the 8 logo on the top right of the picture, that is a TV Channel Logo. This video, which is a Singaporean TV show on hawker food origins, showed a chef in Quanzhou making their version of Lor Mee. In the cooking process, emphasis was also placed on the the choice of noodles. The change in cooking methods meant that Sheng Mian (生面) is used over Huang Mian (黄面), which is the usual choice in Singapore's Lor Mee.

In the show, Singapore's and Zhangzhou's Lor Mee was also shown.

ZhangZhou Lor Mee

ZhangZhou Lor Mee from Ah Fen Lu Mian

Another Example

Zhangzhou's Lor Mee is perhaps the closest to Singapore's. In Ah Fen Lu Mian, a Lor Mee brand in ZhangZhou, a pre-braised pot of gravy can be clearly seen together with other ingredients. Here, you can basically add anything you like on top of your Lor Mee, including ingredients like Ngoh Hiang, eggs and braised pork which you can find in the Singapore's version!

Ah Fen Lu Mian

The preparation methods are also very similar; the broth is prepared first using ingredients like pork, squid, scallops, mushrooms. On order, noodles are then cooked and then the gravy and other cooked ingredients are added as toppings. The darker colour is achieved from adding braising liquid from braised meat, and the pale yellow strands in the gravy are eggs. At this point, it seems safe to say that the similarities meant that Singapore's version is at the very least heavily influenced by Zhangzhou's Lor Mee.

Another small trivia: In Zhangzhou, Lor Mee is pretty much eaten all the time and even during festive dates like Weddings and Duanwu Festival. Lor Mee is a very huge part of their culture.

Other Styles Worth Mentioning

Fuzhou Lor Mee

There is also Fuzhou's Lor Mee, which is very similar to Zhangzhou's. But I have not yet found a source that clearly shows what is the difference between Fuzhou's and Zhangzhou's Lor Mee.

Malaysia, Ulu Yam Lor Mee

As Malaysia is Singapore's neighbour, it would not be surprising if we can find clues about Singapore's Lor Mee from analysing Malaysia's version.

In terms of preparation, the Ulu Yam Lor Mee is closer to the Quanzhou's Lor Mee. The ingredients, including the broth, meat and noodles are cooked in the wok like in a one pot pasta dish.

Here you would think that from preparation methods alone, you can conclude that the Malaysian version is a derivative of Quanzhou's Lor Mee, but that does not seem to be true.

The Malaysian version is said to be originated from Hock Choon Kee in Ulu Yam, Selangor, which eventually spread to all over Malaysia. From an interview with Hock Choon Kee, it seems that the founder went to Singapore and ate Mian Hu, which he then came back to Malaysia to try to recreate. Despite looking similar in terms of gravy and noodles, Malaysia's Lor Mee is probably quite different from Singapore's. You can say it is almost an original dish.

Malaysia, Sitiawan's Lor Mee

In Malaysia, Sitiawan, Fuzhou Lor Mee is sold as a dish. The Lor Mee itself isn't too different from the Zhangzhou style written above, but the locals here do have a unique way of eating Lor Mee; by adding Laksa gravy into the dark, gooey gravy. This is also called 卤辣面 (Lu La Mian). This would be like a sub-set of Fuzhou Lor Mee, but not exactly a regional style by itself. Typically, Assam laksa (tamarind or gelugur based) is used.

Philippine's Lomi

This Filipino-Chinese dish is also quite similar in both looks, preparation and name to Lor Mee. There are various variations within the Philippines, including Pancit Lomi and Batangas Lomi. The preparation seems to be largely similar, starting with a braising broth which is then used to create a gravy. Key difference seems to be the addition of more local ingredients, like Calamansi and pork liver.

The Complication

So I guess we're ready to pack it up and say that Singapore's Lor Mee is basically a modified version of Zhangzhou's Lor Mee right? That would normally be the case, but if you ask hawkers the answers seem to be a bit different. In a Lor Mee review post by Singaporean blogger, ieatishootipost, he typed "Most of the hawkers agree that this is a dish that was brought over by our Hokkien forefathers from Xiamen. I have found some evidence (1) that in Xiamen, they have a version of Lor Mee that is eaten together with Ngor Hiang (Chinese pork rolls)."

Hold on, Xiamen?? That isn't a place we encountered when looking at the versions of Lor Mee available.

The cities where Lor Mee can be found as a significant dish are in in the Southern region of Fujian; Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, Putian and Fuzhou (from what I gather by reading the Chinese Wiki on Lor Mee). Hey look, they are all next to each other on the Fujian map, with the exception of Xiamen being sandwiched in between.

With the geographical proximity of Xiamen, it is usually expected that Lor Mee can be found in some form. Yet, online searches yield little mentions of Lor Mee as a significant dish in Xiamen, or at least significant enough to have its own style. However, there are dishes similar to Lor Mee that are sold in Xiamen now. The first one is Shacha mian (沙茶面), which uses a Shacha sauce, peanut based sauce that was brought over from South East Asia because of trade. If you thought Shacha sounded familiar, it is because as I mentioned earlier, Shacha sauce is also used traditionally in Quanzhou's Lor Mee. In my opinion, Shacha Mian is probably more similar to Satay Bee Hoon than Lor Mee.

The second one would be Mian Xian Hu, which is probably the Mian Hu mentioned before that influenced Malaysia's Lor Mee. This is a version that looks similar to Putian's Lor Mee, but other versions look more watery and have a much thinner noodle.

The Conclusion

Although hawkers are terrific at creating their dishes, when it comes to the history of the dishes they create, the information they give may be subject to a lot of human error. Additionally, as hawkers are not historians nor food researchers, they might not pay as much close attention to the origins of the dish, but only the origins of their version of the dish.

My reasoning is that Xiamen, as a port city, is where the Fujian conducted trade, and thus where culinary ideas or ingredients were exchanged. The dishes that were brought to Singapore may not necessarily be a Xiamen dish. Even if the dishes were brought over directly from Xiamen, it is possible that Lor Mee was brought over from other regions first before going to Xiamen, then to Singapore.

It is also an amazing fact to learn that Malaysia's Ulu Yam Lor Mee is not brought in directly from China, but is a reinterpretation of another dish that the Fujian peoeple brought to Singapore. Just based on looks alone, it looks extremely similar, and it fits the literal meaning of Lor Mee, "Lor (gravy)" and the "Mee (noodle)". Yet, if you look at it's roots, you can argue to say that it is not actually a "Lor Mee", but more of a derivative of "Mian Xian Hu".

Strictly looking at modern methods of preparing Lor Mee, I believe that Singapore's Lor Mee is most closely related to Zhangzhou's. However, the Lor Mee that we find in Singapore today is a culmination of the changes in taste, ingredients available, and individual hawker preferences or cultural influences.

Other Notes

  1. For the moment, I have found enough answers to satisfy my personal curiosity, but if there are any misinformation above or if there are inadequacies, I would very much like for this post to be updated.
  2. None of the pictures above are mine. I am merely compiling and translating information I have gathered. They have been uploaded to imgur so RES users can view them easier.
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I was watching HBO's series "Rome".

There was a scene where a woman in a bar ( did the Romans have bars? ) got upset and another woman took her aside and offered her a cup of "tea" ( British produced series ). I know camellia sinensis wasn't introduced to Europe until the 16th century, but thinking of "tea" as a generic name for any hot beverage drank regularly, I was wondering if the Romans had such a drink?

I know they drank heavily diluted wine all day, but did they have a hot drink to soothe themselves with?

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I watched a Sean Bean movie called The Black Death set in 14th century Europe.

There was one scene where a monk was trying to flee on horseback and he was loading the horse up with sacks of modern potatoes.

I know that potatoes are indigenous to the Americas and that Columbus didn't make his trip until the 15th century.

When did the potato get introduced to Europe?

Did an explorer earlier than Columbus introduce potatoes to Europe?

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My daughter is a Secret World player (It's a many-multiplayer online video game). She posted the following on Facebook today: "I was asked to RP [role-play] cater an event on June 9th. Research topic is Silk Road era food and figuring out what I can cook 'on location' that wont take 6 hours to present.

Most of the information she's finding is about modern Persian cuisine. She's also interested in street food of the Silk Road era.

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They look incredibly similar and the tools to make them are basically identical. I'm thinking, just like pasta has origins in China, is it possible that gnocchis come from India? Or maybe it's the other way around.

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I just had Indian food for the first time and it was quite good.. Though it made me wonder if a European imperialist would even dare eat local cuisine, and i wonder how they felt about it.

Also I would be interested in hearing reactions from local to European food.

I could find much info online about this topic so I am hoping I can get a response here :D

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Or are they just to big to be worth the effort required to cook them?

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