600 years of “Yummee Chocalate.”

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Aztecs and Mayans are known to have drunk a bitter cacao drink.
Chocolate was mostly consumed as a drink for most of its documented history.
1502: Christopher Columbus carries cocoa beans he finds near present-day Honduras back to Spain, presents them to Queen Isabella, and they go straight into a museum. In his diary, Columbus hints that chocolate would be improved with the addition of sugar.
1528: Hernán Cortés, spending time with Montezuma, observes his seemingly boundless energy and chocolate drinking habit—40 goblets a day. Trying it himself, he writes to King Charles about its energy and focus-giving qualities. “It was because it was the first time that he had caffeine,” said Segan. “Coffee and tea were not yet introduced to the Old World.”
Mid to late 1500s: With the addition of sugar, chocolate becomes sweet, but isn’t for the masses; only the wealthy can afford it.
1600s: Chocolate travels from Spain to Italy, where it is seen in a whole new light: as a spice. “The Italians love to fool around,” according to Segan, “They looked at the cocoa beans and said, ‘Cocoa beans are a spice; they’re seeds like cumin, coriander,’” prompting their use in cooking, quite some time before Mexico’s mole sauces.
Casanova (1725–1798) praises chocolate’s aphrodisiac values, recommending oysters, sparkling wine, to seduce ladies, but chocolate above all for what he believed were its aphrodisiac properties.
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1865: Gianduja, chocolate mixed with hazelnut paste, is created in Piedmont, Italy.
1875: Daniel Peter creates milk chocolate, with condensed milk produced by his neighbor and dairy farmer Henri Nestlé.
1879: Rodolphe Lindt invents conching, a way to make chocolate less grainy tasting and smoother through heating and rolling. Though many prefer this finer texture, in Sicily, the grainy texture is preferred and still produced.
1930s: Nestlé creates white chocolate, now that cocoa butter can be squeezed from the cocoa solids.
The English, who were used to the idea of hot drinks, had no problem with chocolate as a rich drink, with milk, eggs, and cream.
Called Indian nectar by Henry Stubbe in a 1662 treatise, the drink was praised for its universal curing properties—for any and all ailments.
via Highlights From the History of Chocolate

Hardtack was essential for a Sailor’s Diet.

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There has always been a need for nutritious, easy to store, easy to carry and long-lasting foods in the Royal Navy.
Nuts, fruits, vegetables, live game and fish fulfilled a limited role, but the introduction of cooking and baking various cereals provided a more reliable source of food for travelers, especially at sea.
Egyptian sailors carried a flat brittle loaf of maize bread called dhourra cake. The Romans had a biscuit called buccellum
King Richard I (Lionheart) left for the Third Crusade (1189-92) with “biskit of muslin” – mixed corn compound of barley, rye and bean flour. At the time of the Armada in 1588, the daily allowance on board ship was 1lb of biscuit plus 1 gallon of beer.
It was Samuel Pepys in 1667 who first regularised naval victualling with varied and nutritious rations.
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“Oldest ship biscuit Kronborg DK cropped” by Paul A. Cziko. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons –
Biscuits remained an important part of the sailor’s diet until the introduction of canned foods and bread.
Preserved beef in tins was officially introduced in 1847, although tinned items had previously been used in arctic exploration.
Canned meat was first marketed in 1813. In the mid-1850s with improved design and new baking equipment, it became possible to bake bread on board ship.
Biscuits have always been made to a large and varied recipes e.g. seed biscuits, fruit biscuits, long biscuits etc. The essential and common ingredients were flour and water, most flour used today is milled from North American wheat or similar hard grain cereals.
It would be difficult to produce an historically authentic biscuit from modern refined flour.
via Ship’s Biscuits: the Sailor’s Diet 

Cyril Percy Callister & “Vegemite”.

q100860_44__tn600x4501Cyril Percy Callister (1893-1949), food technologist, was born on 16 February 1893 at Chute near Beaufort, Victoria, son of William Hugh Callister, schoolmaster and his wife Rosetta Anne, née Dixon.
After education at state schools, Grenville College, Ballarat, and the Ballarat School of Mines, he attended the University of Melbourne.
In January 1915 Callister joined Lewis & Whitty, manufacturers of food and household products. In June he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Within three months the Department of Defence withdrew him to join the Munitions Branch.
Shortly afterwards he was sent to Britain and spent the war working on explosives manufacture in Wales, and in Scotland where he met and married Katherine Hope Mundell at Annau, on 8 March 1919; they had two sons and a daughter.
On his return to Australia in 1919 Callister rejoined Lewis & Whitty where he remained until that company was taken over.
In February 1923, he was appointed to Fred Walker’s small food company to develop a yeast-extract for retail sale.
Although this product was known overseas, no information was available about the process, and Callister developed it from brewers’ yeast.
Under the trademark Vegemite it was placed on the market early in 1924 and slowly became an established item, solely through Callister’s technological skill and perseverance.
Walker was also interested in methods for preserving cheese, and involved Callister in this as well. Thus the chemist rapidly became well informed in microbiology and began to experiment with cheese-processing.
With the help of patents held by the American James L. Kraft, he made a satisfactory product and Walker used this in 1925 to persuade Kraft to grant a licence for the manufacture of Kraft cheese in Australia.
So the Kraft Walker Cheese Co. was established in 1926 with Callister as chief chemist and production superintendent.
He was the key to the increasing technical emphasis of the company. In 1925 he had sent samples of Vegemite to London to be tested for Vitamin B activity—a far-sighted move in the very early days of vitamin knowledge.
The result confirmed Callister’s confidence in the product as a valuable nutrient. In 1926-31 he carried out detailed original studies on the scientific background of cheese-making to establish the parameters of good cheese quality. Convinced that background science was essential in any industry,
Callister became a director of the company in 1935, shortly before Walker died suddenly.
He continued to build up laboratory staff and supervise production and quality as the company emerged from the Depression and shouldered unexpected demands for the production of familiar and unfamiliar products during World War II.
Under his personal direction high tonnages of service rations for the Australian and United States armies were produced; the unfamiliar technology of dehydration was undertaken for government; and scientific staff greatly improved Vegemite, developed new knowledge of cheese manufacture and processing and of the behaviour of thiamine (vitamin B1) in foods, and introduced into Australia methods of assay of the B complex vitamins.
Immediately after the war he stimulated successful attempts to diversify the source of raw-material yeasts for Vegemite. He died of heart failure in 1949.
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via Biography – Cyril Percy Callister – Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Food Art by Samantha Lee, Malaysia.

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Edible creations of everything from Totoro to Cinderella to Frida Kahlo by Malaysia-based food artist Samantha Lee.
She crafted these lunches for her daughters and started posting them on Instagram in 2011 and soon gathered a large following.
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I’m always happy to inspire other mums out there to create cute food art for their kids.
It doesn’t have to be done every day; just try it once in a while…
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Read and see more via Food Art by Samantha Lee – Faith is Torment.

A History of the Hamburger, United States.

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Actresses Dorothy Sebastian and Joan Crawford enjoy some hamburgers on a Los Angeles beach, c1925-35. (Credit: Getty)

Why are they called hamburgers?

From the grilled, minced beef patties that originated in the German city of Hamburg and that were introduced to America in the 19th century by German sailors or immigrants.
Where was the hamburger first commercially served in America?
Predictably, many places are keen to claim this honour.
The argument is complicated by disputes over what actually constitutes a hamburger.
For example, does it have to be in a bun?

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New Haven, Connecticut enjoys the support of the Library of Congress in its claim that Louis Lassen (above) of local restaurant Louis’ Lunch first served chopped, pressed beef between two slices of bread in 1900.
On the other hand, Athens, Texas argues that Fletcher Davis had been serving them at his food outlet there since the 1880s and popularised them at the 1904 World Trade Fair at St Louis.
Source: The history of the hamburger | History Extra

Foods that Americans Once Loved.

beaver1.jpg__800x600_q85_cropTurtles, beaver tail soup and eel pie were once beloved staples of the continental diet. What happened? (The American Plate)
By Li Zhou, smithsonian.com
There have always been food trends, says Libby O’Connell, author of The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites. Before hamburgers and sushi, there were centuries of epicurean staples, including eel pie, pear cider and syllabub, foods that have since dipped in popularity and might seem a little, well, unconventional, in today’s diet.
O’Connell attributes the rise and fall of different delicacies to, among other reasons, overharvesting of certain foods, the shift from active to sedentary lifestyles and a greater focus on convenience over time.
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Jellied eel, eel pie and mash are popular dishes in England that colonists once also enjoyed. (Flickr user Uglix)
Many of the earliest foods that became deeply ingrained in American cuisine were carried over by English settlers who had affinities for items like oysters and turtles.
As immigrants from around the world came to the U.S., they adapted dishes and drink from their home countries, creating new offerings such as chow mein and salsa, which became integrated into the broader menu of options.
While today food fads are fleeting and capricious –think the cronut–in the past, trends emerged that fulfilled key dietary or financial needs.
Squirrel supplemented the protein of frontier families who needed meat to bolster their stews, while canned SPAM offered an inexpensive alternative to fresh options during challenging economic times and World War II.
Unfortunately, many prevalent dishes lost steam mostly because they became too popular and the ingredients they needed, scarce.
Others disappeared because a more accessible option took their place or they were simply no longer needed.
Here are seven lost foods highlighted in O’Connell’s book that were once go-to options, but have since faded from mainstream diets.
Now read on Read via The Foods Americans Once Loved to Eat | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian.