Robbie Burns Night & the Haggis.

The first supper was held in memoriam at Burns Cottage by Burns’s friends, on 21 July 1801, the fifth anniversary of his death; it has been a regular occurrence ever since.
The first still extant Burns Club was founded in Greenock in 1801 by merchants who were born in Ayrshire, some of whom had known Burns.
They were held to celebrate the life and work of Legendary Scottish poet Robbie Burns
They held the first Burns supper on what they thought was his birthday, 29 January 1802, but in 1803, they discovered the Ayr parish records that noted his date of birth was actually 25 January 1759. Since then, suppers have been held on or about 25 January.

Photograph: Sheep’s stomach stuffed with offal, suet, oatmeal and spices is better known as haggis and eaten on Burns Night in Scotland.
Burns suppers may be formal or informal. Both typically include haggis (a traditional Scottish dish celebrated by Burns in Address to a Haggis), Scotch whisky and the recitation of Burns’s poetry.
Formal dinners are hosted by organisations such as Burns clubs, the Freemasons or St Andrews Societies; they occasionally end with dancing when ladies are present. Formal suppers follow a standard order.
Source: The most disgusting food in the world – in pictures | Food | The Guardian

The Humble Yorkshire Pudding.

yorkshire-pudding
It is not necessary to buy a Yorkshire-pudding tin to make an authentic Yorkshire pudding.
What you actually need is a 30cm by 20cm rectangular tray, the kind now sold as tray-bake tins for things such as Mary Berry’s millionaire’s shortbread or lemon-drizzle squares.
The true Yorkshire pudding, says Peter Brears, “is always made in a rectangular dripping tin and cut into squares just before it reaches the plate”.
Brears is the author of Traditional Food in Yorkshire (Prospect Books) – less a cookbook (though it does include recipes) than a brilliant social history of how they ate in Yorkshire in the 19th century.
The perfect pudding, according to Brears, has a high crisp rim and a “deeply rippled centre”.
The round puddings that are now deemed the classic version were originally called “Yorkshire puffs” and were a way to save on oven space, as cooks dropped spoonfuls of batter into the hot fat around the roasting meat.
Quite why batter pudding – which was made in various forms all over Britain – should be so closely associated with Yorkshire isn’t clear. The first written recipe is by Hannah Glasse in 1747, who seasoned the batter with grated nutmeg and ginger and cooked it under a joint of “beef, mutton or a loin of veal” as it spit-roasted before the fire.
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Yorkshire pudding remains one of the glories of a Sunday lunch: crispy outside and custardy inside.
It’s one of the few dishes – soufflé being another – that elicits a gasp when it arrives at the table.
Authentic or not, I like to make them in a muffin tin (three eggs, 120g flour, 300ml milk and a pinch of salt for 15 minutes in a hot oven), preheated with oil for maximum puff.
Some serve the pudding as a sweet course, with golden syrup and cream, but I see the battery crevices as the perfect vehicle for meaty juices.
Traditionally, the pudding and gravy were served as a first course, like pasta, with the meat and vegetables to follow.
A roast dinner that includes Yorkshires as well as roast potatoes is a double-carbohydrate feast.

Continue reading via The Kitchen Thinker: the history of Yorkshire pudding – Telegraph.

Eating South Australia’s iconic Pie Floater and what to expect.

saflag_floater

I guess most people realise that Australia was first populated by the Aboriginal people.
Then in the late eighteenth century the British our Imperial Overlords rocked up with their ships, diseases and rabbits.
“I say what an ‘orrible place this is, let’s populate it with the garbage from Britain”. “The poor, the Irish, union men and women, orphans, workhouse people and oh yes, some criminals”.
But not in South Australia, we are the State of the very poor free settlers that they wanted to get rid of anyway.
We came here in 1836 and started eating pie floaters soon afterwards.

What is a Pie Floater?

Some claim it is indigenous to South Australia, but I’m not so sure of that.
It is an Aussie Meat Pie, submerged in a sea of green pea soup, with the peas quite visible and topped with lashings of “dead horse” (tomato sauce) and vinegar if you so wish.
Sounds disgusting, yes, but wonderful to eat after a night on the piss in Adelaide, the city of churches.
PieCart_4
Where did you get it? For many years Cowley’s Bakery, based at Cross Road, South Plympton would park their pie cart outside of the Adelaide General Post Office in the City at night and dispense pie floaters late into the night for drunks, shift workers, unsuspecting tourists and coppers.

THE RESULTS:

A shortlived general feeling of wellbeing and happiness, perhaps a gentle vomit or two and for many hours afterwards a series of foul smelling, arse tearing, bowel burning pie floater farts.
They were Wonderful!         Rod

The Secret World of Caffeine.

giant-coffee-cupBy Justin Beach, Daily Digest News
Somewhere in the world, 71 cups of coffee are consumed every second of every day for a total of 2.25 billion cups per year. Worldwide the consumption of coffee provides 26 million jobs and $15.4 billion in exports, much of which goes to very poor coffee producing countries.
Those numbers do not even take into account the consumption of tea, chocolate and other caffeinated beverages.
No one is sure, however, exactly why plants such as coffee, tea and cocoa produce caffeine in the first place. New research published in the September 5 edition of the journal Science provides new information, but also produces more mysteries.
“Coffee is as important to everyday early risers as it is to the global economy. Accordingly, a genome sequence could be a significant step toward improving coffee.
By looking at the coffee genome and genes specific to coffee, we were able to draw some conclusions about what makes coffee special,” said Philippe Lashermes, a researcher at the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD), in a statement.
The newly sequenced genome of the coffee plant sheds light on the evolution of caffeine.
Interestingly, the plants which produce caffeine appear to have evolved separately to produce the same chemical. In other words, coffee, tea and cocoa do not appear to share a common caffeine-producing evolutionary ancestor.
via Coffee genome reveals secrets about the world’s most popular drug, caffeine | Daily Digest News.

The History of Christmas Pudding.

Christmas pudding Matt Riggott

A flaming Christmas pudding. © Matt Riggott at Wikipedia

Over the course of the 18th century, pottage and porridge became unfashionable as sophisticated cuisine increasingly took its cues from France.
In 1758 Martha Bradley, the author of The British Housewife: or, The Cooke, Housekeeper’s and Gardiner’s Companion said of plum porridge that “the French laugh outrageously at this old English Dish”.
Her own recipe for ‘plum porridge’ sounds very rich; it contains a leg and a shin of beef, white bread, currants, raisins, prunes, mace, cloves, nutmegs, sherry, salt and sugar.
As plum pottage died out, the plum pudding rose to take its place. Thanks to cheap sugar from the expanding West Indian slave plantations, plum puddings became sweeter and the savoury element of the dish (meat) became less important.
By the Victorian period the only meat product in a Christmas pudding was suet (raw beef or mutton fat).
At this point it had really become Christmas pudding as we know it, with the cannonball-shaped pudding of flour, fruits, suet, sugar and spices topped with a sprig of holly, doused in brandy and set alight.
How exactly plum pudding got to be associated with Christmas is the next mystery. The earlier plum pottage was apparently enjoyed at times of celebration, although it was primarily associated with harvest festivities rather than Christmas.
There is an unsubstantiated story that in 1714, King George I (sometimes known as the Pudding King) requested that plum pudding be served as part of his first Christmas feast in England.
Whether this actually happened or not, was can see that recipe books from the 18th century onwards did start associating plum pudding with Christmas.
In 1740, a publication titled Christmas Entertainments included a recipe for plum pudding, which suggests that it was increasingly eaten in a Christmas context.
The first known reference to a ‘Christmas pudding’ is, however, not to be found until 1845, in Eliza Acton’s bestselling Modern Cookery for Private Families.
Read more via Dance’s Historical Miscellany: Christmas pudding: a history.

The Romance of Chocolate.

_79911679_chocflorentinePapillotes are a popular Christmas treat in France – the specially wrapped chocolates have romantic origins dating back to the 18th Century.
I tracked down some of the best in a small shop in Paris.
If Willy Wonka was real and a Frenchman, his name would be Philippe Bernachon.
Bernachon is a master chocolate maker. His Lyon kitchen creates the most mouth-watering delicacies – not least, his chocolate bars. Roll over, Wonka’s Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight.
Smooth, very dark or creamy milk – Bernachon bars are oozing with rich, salted caramel or stuffed with pistachio, roasted almonds, candied pineapple and kirsch, marzipan, or bitter orange and crystallised fruits soaked in Grand Marnier.
They’re usually found in only two places in the world – in Lyon or 400km (248 miles) north at a small sweet shop near Montmartre, A L’Etoile d’Or – At the Golden Star.
But last February, The Golden Star blew up, sending the exquisite 19th Century decor, the trays and jars of divine sweetmeats – and Bernachon’s incredible chocolate bars – sky-high.
A gas explosion smashed it all to smithereens.
The proprietor, shocked but unscathed, has been without her shop for months – and Paris is bereft of Bernachon.
Read on via BBC News – The most romantic chocolate ever made?.