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PRODUCT: Red, White & Blue Champagne

Chandon, Moet et Chandon’s sparkling wine from Napa Valley, has been issuing a limited-edition red, white and blue bottle of its brut sparkling wine for the past six years; a different design each year.

Founded in 1973 by venerable French champagne house Moët & Chandon, Chandon was the first American sparkling wine venture established by a French Champagne house in Napa Valley. Its Napa Valley vineyard holdings, Chandon grows the traditional French champagne grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.

They also create limited-edition bottles for New Year’s Eve; but let’s get back to the red, white and blue.

The bottles of Chandon Brut in American flag colors bottle was so popular, that three years ago the winery launched a companion bottle of Chandon Rosé.

If you’re pouring bubbly over Memorial Day and Independence Day weekends, these peak-chic bottles are the ones to pour.

It’s the same delicious Chandon Brut and Rosé, in standard sizes and minis—the latter a festive party favor.

The bottles, officially called the American Summer Limited Edition, are available Memorial Day through Labor Day at select retailers.

If your wine and liquor store doesn’t carry them, they can order them for you by the case. You can purchase them at Chandon.com as well.

  • Limited Edition Brut Classic Summer 2017 is $26.00/750 ml bottle, $310/case. Minis (quarter bottles) are $8/bottle, $192/case.
  • Limited Edition Rosé Summer 2017 is $28.00/50 ml bottle, $336/case. Minis are $9/bottle, $262/case.
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    WHY IS ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE MORE EXPENSIVE?

    Whether from Champagne or another region of the world that produces sparkling wines*, sparkling rosé champagne is typically more expensive than sparkling white wine.

    That’s because making it is more labor-intensive and time-consuming.

    There are two ways to make rosé champagne. We’ll start off with the fact that there are two main wine grapes grown in the Champagne region: chardonnay (white grapes) and pinot noir (black grapes†). Champagne can be made from:

  • All white grapes, called blanc de blanc (meaning, white wine [champagne] from white grapes), made from chardonnay grapes and possibly some blending grapes. Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is an example (here are more). “Blanc de blancs” will be on the label.
  • All red/black grapes, called blanc de noirs, made from pinot noir and/or pinot meunier grapes. The term means literally “white of blacks,” a white wine made from black grapes), These are more limited and more costly. Examples include Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises Blanc de Noirs and Krug Clos d’Ambonnay (here are others). Here are others.
  • A combination. Most champagnes are a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir.
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    How Sparkling Rosé Is Made

    Making a rosé takes extra steps. The most common method in the Champagne region is to blend still red wine into the champagne. The red wine produces deeper, more robust red fruit aromas.

    The other approach, used by the top houses, is more complicated and more costly. During the part of the juice fermentation called maceration, the winemaker allows skin contact of the red grape skins, with the pressed white juice.

     

    July 4th Champagne

    Moet et Chandon Champagne

    Rose Champagne Flutes

    [1] Chandon’s 2017 American Summer Limited Edition sparkling wines (photo courtesy Chandon). [2] Moet and Chandon, the famed French champagne, planted its grape vines in Napa Valley to produce Chandon. [3] Rosé bubbly adds even more festiveness (photo Jacek Kadaj | Fotolia).

     
    The process is very carefully monitored to extract the color, tannin and flavor compounds from the skin. It produces a more delicate flavor than blending in red wine.

    (Champagne trivia: The coveted pale salmon color known as oeil-de-perdrix, partridge eye, which dates to the Middle Ages in Champagne. It gave its name to a style of rosé wine made in Switzerland. Here’s more information.)

    Champagne houses pride themselves a consistent house style. The challenge with either approach to making rosé champagne is to create the same color year after year, even though the blend of grapes changes based on the harvest (i.e., the sweetness and other properties of the harvested grapes).

    But…back to summer sipping: A sparkling wine lighter than champagne is best in the outdoor heat. Here are the different types of sparkling wine and sparkling rosé.

    ________________
    *Legally, only sparkling wine produced in the French region of Champagne can be called champagne. Everything else is properly called sparkling wine.

    †Red wine grapes are referred to as black in the industry. Depending on varietal, they can range from dark red to purplish black in color.

    ‡By law, arbane, petit meslier, pinot blanc and pinot gris can also be used in the blend. Some producers use them to round out the flavors; but these grapes comprise just a fraction of the the grapes grown in the region.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Salad In A Wine Glass

    Tumbler Salad

    Riedel O Red Wine Tumbler

    Yogurt Parfaits

    Classic Layered Salad

    Avocado Layered Salad

    [1] A beautiful layered salad in a wine tumbler (photo courtesy Riedel Japan). [2] Riedel’s O series tumbler for red wine (photo courtesy Riedel). [3] How many different ways can you use them? See our list below (photo Riedel | Facebook). [4] A classic layered salad (photo courtesy Kraft). [5] The most recent layered salad trend: in a Mason jar (here’s the recipe from the California Avocado Commission).

     

    Yesterday’s tip was to use salad as a soup garnish.

    Today we’re taking a slightly different turn.

    Serve an elegant layered salad in (photo #1) a wine tumbler, like Riedel’s O Red Wine Tumbler (photo #2).

    In fact, when you’re not drinking wine from the tumblers, you can variously use them:
     
    At Breakfast

  • Fruit Salad
  • Juice or milk
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Yogurt and granola
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    At Lunch

  • Salad
  • Soup
  • Dessert
  •  
    At Dinner

  • First course
  • Sides
  • Dessert
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    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WINE TUMBLER & A WINE GLASS?

    Like its entire line of fine glassware for wine and spirits, Riedel’s wine tumblers are sophisticated glassware engineered for different grape varietals, to deliver the maximum flavors and aromas. The shape of the bowl and mouth direct the wine to different areas of the palate.

    Now, to the stemmed wine glass that has been around for many centuries. It is meant to be held by the stem, not by the bowl.

    Stemware was created for elegance, so the heat from one’s hand didn’t warm the wine in the bowl, and so one’s sticky fingers didn’t leave grease marks on the glass.

    But, with the increasing casual that has developed over the last 30 years, few people know or care about etiquette, and most people hold their stemware by the bowl.

    If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em; so Riedel, the world’s greatest wine glass maker, decided to give people what they want: a bowl with no stem.

    The O Stemless Tumblers line did so well, that Riedel has added lines with etched designs and colored bottoms.

    They’re an affordable gift. Check out the choices at Amazon.

    THE HISTORY OF LAYERED SALAD

    Try as we did, we couldn’t find a detailed reference to layered salad before the 1970s. A 2000 article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel refers to a seven layer salad as a fat-laden salad that “helped give salads of the 1950s a bad name” [source].

    Ingredients are layered in a glass bowl, with the varied layer colors and textures providing eye appeal. Made for barbecues, parties, picnics, potlucks, it was/is assembled ahead of time and is easy to transport. It can feed a crowd, and was very popular with said crowd.

    The layers—as few or as many as the cook desires—commonly include:

  • Bacon or ham
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Green or red onions
  • Peas
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • Tomatoes
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    The original dressing may have been mayonnaise-based or a mayo-sour cream combination. Depending on the cook, bottled Italian or ranch dressing can be employed.

    Personally, we skip the shredded cheddar and use a mayo-sour cream-chunky blue cheese dressing.

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mostarda, A Sweet-Hot Italian Condiment

    Mostarda di Cremona

    Mostarda di Cremona

    Mostarda

    Mostarda Bolognese

    Mostarda di Mantova

    [1] The classic: mostarda di cremona. Here’s a recipe to make your own from The Spruce). [2] A cremona close-up (photo courtesy Cucina Corriere. [3] Mostarda vicentina has a jam-like consistency, losing the physical beauty of other mostardas (photo courtesy Buonissimo). [4] Mostarda di mantova, made from apples, pears and quince (photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese).

     

    Years ago, on a trip to Italy, we first came across mostarda di frutta, mostarda for short.

    A sweet-and-hot, fruit-and-mustard condiment from the north of Italy, it’s our go-to condiment with Italian cheeses, and some other nationalities on the cheese board. We offer more uses below.

    Think of mostarda as a mustardy fruit chutney—although mostarda uses mostly candied fruits. (The Italian word for mustard in the English-language issenape).

    Candied whole small fruits or larger pieces of fruit are beautifully suspended in a clear syrup flavored with mustard oil. It’s clear and doesn’t cloud the syrup. Home recipes often use mustard powder mixed into white wine.

    Some mostarda is lovely to look at, like part of a still life painting. It is cooked slowly (often over three days) to maintain the natural bright colors of the fruit, and the perfect texture.

    Buy jars as gifts for your foodie friends.

    The origin of the word comes from a Latin term of the Middle Ages, mustum ardens, “grape juice [must] that burns,” a term first used in the Middle Ages by French monks, for the mustard they made (the history of mustard).

    It burns because of the addition of crushed mustard seeds. Once crushed, the seeds release the fiery mustard oil that gives the mustard condiment its flavor.

    THE HISTORY OF MOSTARDA

    From the Middle Ages forward, man has sought ways to enjoy the fruits that are scarce in winter, at least through the celebrations of Christmas.

    Mostarda is a food born from the need to preserve fruits for the off-season. Originally, the fruits were preserved in mosto (grape must*), unfermented grape juice that has been reduced to a syrup.

    Mostarda’s origins date back to the honey and mustard condiments of ancient Rome. Grape must (freshly pressed grape juice) was mixed with ground mustard seeds and honey to create a sweet mustard. Later, fruit was added.

    Recipes for “modern” mostarda, dating from the 13th century, call for the use of grape must. The first written document “Fruit Mostarda for festive season” dates to 1393 and is attributed to Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan [source].

  • Grape must, called must for short, is the young, unfermented juice of wine grapes. Among other uses (in saba and vin cotto, for starters), it is mixed with ground mustard seeds to make mustard.
  • Subsequently, the condiment mostarda was made by candying the fruits and adding mustard oil to create sweet heat. Both the sugar to candy the fruits and the mustard oil were preservatives.
  • And by the way, mostarda became a Christmas tradition, traditionally eaten with creamy, slightly sweet mascarpone cheese.
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    Beginning in the 16th century, newly-affordable sugar replaced the must to candy the fruits, then mustard was added [source]. The oldest known recipe prepared with fruit, mustard and sugar, without the grape must, was found in 17th century Belgium.

    From that point on, cookbooks began to include mostarda as a main ingredient. By the 19th century there were some 93 different varieties.

    The sweet heat went really well with boiled meats. Initially, mostarda was the served with bollito misto, a plate of mixed boiled meats that’s a specialty of northern Italian cuisine (there’s more below about uses for mostarda).

    TYPES OF MOSTARDA

    According to legend, mostarda was invented by chance in medieval times. In an apothecary shop, a piece of melon fell unnoticed into a barrel filled with honey.

    When it was later discovered, the melon was still as delicious as if it had been freshly picked (honey, which is virtually moisture-free, is an excellent preservative) [source].

    Mostarda itself takes on different ingredients in different regions, incorporating local fruits—whatever is plentiful in the region. Raisins, nuts and other ingredients can be added.

    As one source notes, almost every town in the Po valley has its own recipe.

    There are many, many mostarda recipes, from grape and fig (uva e ficchi) to vegetable mustards (also candied) modern recipes with non-Italian ingredients, from cardamom pods to pineapple and pumpkin.

    Here are some of the most famous, named for the areas where they originated.

  • Mostarda bolognese is made from apples, oranges, pears, plums and quince. In the area of Bologna, it is used to flavor the classic dish of boiled pork and cooked sausages, as well as to fill tarts and in other sweets.
  • Mostarda di carpi, from a town in the Emilia-Romagna region. It still uses red grape must in its recipe, along with oranges, pears, quince and sweet apples,
  • Mostarda di cremona also called mostarda cremonese, is the classic recipe, made with several different kinds of fruits (the makers choice among apricots, cherries, figs, peaches, pears, quinces and tangerines). It is the most commercially available style.
  • Mostarda di mantova, also called mostarda mantovana and mostarda di mele campanine, is made from tart= green apples called mele campanine (singular mela campanina) and pears or quince.
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  • Mostarda veneziana, from the Venice region, is made with fresh quince pulp (a minimum of 36% pure pulp), and candied fruits (apricots, clementines, figs, white pears, yellow cherries). It is intentionally grainy/sugary.
  • Mostarda vicentina, from the town of Vicenza in the Veneto region, is characterized by a jam-like consistency and the use of quince (mele cotogne) as its main ingredient. During the Christmas holidays, it is eaten with spoonfuls with mascarpone.
  • Mostarda di voghera, in the Lombardy region of Italy, has documentation from 1397, when Duke Gian Galeazzo Visconti requested “mostarda de fructa cum la senavra.” The recipe can include apples, apricots, candied orange peel, cherries, clementines, figs, lemon, melon and pears.
  • Mostarda siciliana is made with orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and often, toasted chopped almonds.
  • Dalmatian mostarda, made in Croatia across the Adriatic Sea from Venice, is a simpler recipe, made with quinces and honey.
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    WAYS TO USE MOSTARDA

    Any discussion starts with bollito misto a fundamental part of Northern Italian cuisine. It’s a one-pot meal, Italian comfort food.

    The boiled meats vary by region, and a very elaborate presentation can include seven kinds of meat and fowl, seven vegetables and seven condiments.

    The meats can include beef brisket, beef cheeks, calf’s tongue, chicken or capon (or turkey), cotechino sausage, pork shank, sweet Italian sausage, veal shank—slowly boiled in a large pot with carrots, celery, onions and potatoes.

    The cooked cooked meats are sliced, placed on a platter and served with mostarda—or, for those seeking a different flavor profile, with a green herb sauce (salsa verde). The savory broth that remains in the pot can then be turned into soup.

    Why not plan a dinner party, with a multi-mostarda tasting?

    Over time, mostarda became a broad-purpose condiment.

    The heat of mostarda varies by producer. In general, however, it needs a hearty food that can show off both the sweet and the heat.

    Serve mostarda with:

  • Eggs: omelets, sliced egg sandwich on crusty toast.
  • Cheeses: as a condiment on a cheese board, or drizzled over individually plated slices or scoops of mascarpone or ricotta. In Italy, gorgonzola and stracchino are popular.
  • Meats: any boiled, braised, broiled, roasted or smoked, from chicken and turkey to ham, pork loin and beef brisket and sausages.
  • Up-condimenting: added to a dip base or mayonnaise for a more complex flavor.
  • Salume and other charcuterie).
  • Sandwiches: grilled vegetables, Italian cold cuts, porchetta, roast beef, strong cheeses.
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    You can find many mostarda recipes online, and can purchase it in specialty food stores and Italian markets. You can also buy it online.

    Don’t be put off by the high price for a small jar. If you look at the ingredients in the recipe, you’ll see it as a bargain.

    Let us know how you like it.

    Discover the world of mustard in our Mustard Glossary.

    PHOTO CAPTIONS

    [5] Bollito misto, a dish often served with mustard (photo courtesy Cucina Italiana).

    [6] Add a ramekin of mostarda to a cheese and/or charcuterie board (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    [7] A delicious appetizer or snack: bruschetta with prosciutto, burrata and pear mostarda (photo courtesy Davio’s Boston).

     

    Bollito Misto

    Cheese Board

    Prosciutto Burrata Bruschetta

     

      

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    RECIPE: Strawberry Pistachio Nougat + Nougat History

    If your Mother’s Day celebration includes nougat fans, whip up a batch of this Strawberry Pistachio Nougat from chef and cookbook author Samir Nosrat.

    Nougat (U.S. pronunciation: NOO-got, French pronounciation NOO-gah) is a family of chewy confections made with sugar or honey, roasted nuts, whipped egg whites, and sometimes, chopped candied fruit (photo #7, below).

    It can be cut into rectangles or squares, broken into irregular pieces like toffee or dipped in chocolate (nougat bars, or enrobed bonbons.

    We saw one recipe where the nougat was cut layered onto a brownies between the cake and the frosting; and a recipe for Snickers Brownies that adds a layer of caramel as well.

    Nougat is a regular ingredient in popular candy* bars and chocolates—including those you would never suspect, because the nougat blends into a very different consistency and appearance (follow the asterisk).

    TYPES OF NOUGAT

    There are three basic kinds of nougat.

  • The most common is white nougat, photo #6 below, is known in Italy as torrone and mandorlato in Italy, turrón in Spain, and nougat (the “t” is not pronounced) in France. It is a simple recipe: beaten egg whites, and honey and nuts. It first appeared in Cologna Veneta, Italy, in the early 15th century. The first published recipe in Spain appears in Alicante, in the 16th century. The first recipe found in France is from Montélimar, in the 18th century. White nougat is used as the base for modern flavored nougats.
  • Spanish turrón follows the traditional recipe, with toasted almonds (minimum 60% almond content!), sugar, honey, and egg whites.
  • Italian torrone (photo #6) includes these same basic ingredients, using different nuts (no legal minimum) plus vanilla or citrus flavoring. It is often sandwiched between two very thin sheets of rice paper (photo #4, cocoa-flavored).
  • Venetian nougat, made in the town of Cologna Veneta is well known for its nougat production, especially the type called mandorlato. It is made from honey, sugar, egg whites and almonds (mandorle in Italian). It has a different taste and a harder bite than torrone.
  • British nougat is traditionally made in the style of the Italian and Spanish varieties. The most common industrially-produced nougat, commonly found at fairgrounds and seaside resorts, is colored pink and white, with almonds and cherries. The pink nougat is often fruit-flavored. It is sometimes wrapped in edible rice paper, which keeps stickiness from the fingers.
  • U.S. candy artisans make conventional white nougat to modern flavors and colors: black cherry, café au lait, cranberry, matcha, pumpkin and so forth. There’s even an all-American chocolate-peanut nougat (photo #5).
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    The Other Types Of Nougat

  • The second is type is brown nougat, called nougat noir (NOO-gah-NWAHR) in French (which literally means black nougat). It is made without egg whites and has a firmer, often crunchy texture. See photo #8 below, which (like most of the photos) links to the recipe.
  • The third type of nougat is known as German or Viennese nougat. It contains only sugar, cocoa butter, nuts (usually hazelnuts) and cocoa mass, and has a soft consistency, similar to gianduja (chocolate and ground hazelnuts, also known as hazelnut praliné. It is often sliced from a loaf. This is the style called “nougat” in Germany and Austria, as well as in Denmark and Sweden. In the latter two countries, the original white nougat is referred to as “French nougat.” In Germany, is simply called nougat [source]. See photo #10, below.
  • ________________

    *In the U .S. alone: Baby Ruth, Big Hunk, Charleston Chews, Mars Bar, Milky Way, Pay Day, Reese’s Fast Break, Snickers, Three Musketeers, Zero Bar. However, the nougat that appears in many modern candy bars in the U.S. and U.K. is different from traditional recipes, including in several cases, the original recipes of those candy bars.

    Modern candy bar nougat is often a mixture of sucrose and corn syrup, aerated with a whipping agent such as egg white or hydrolyzed soy protein or gelatin. It may also include vegetable fats and milk powder. This type of nougat is often used as a filler by large candy companies, since it’s inexpensive to make. Typically, it is used plain or chocolate-flavored, or combined with nuts, caramel and/or chocolate to make the body of the candy bar. But some American confections feature such nougat as the primary component, rather than one of several.
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    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY PISTACHIO NOUGAT

    These are shown in photo #1 (rectangle cut) and photo #2 (square cut). Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes.

    For step-by-step photo, visit ACozyKitchen.com. While you’re there, sign up for the inspiring blog feed.

    Ingredients For 14 Pieces

  • 1/2 cup freeze-dried strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Optional: 2 drops red food coloring
  • 2/3 cup chopped pistachios
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    Plus

  • Loaf pan
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • Spatula, pre-sprayed with cooking spray
  •    

    Strawberry Nougat

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    Rosewater Pistachio Nougat

    Chocolate Almond Nougat

    Chocolate Peanut Nougat

    White nougat (or its colored variations) can be cut into [1] fingers or [2] squares (recipe at left; photo courtesy A Cozy Kitchen). [3] Another pink nougat; East meets West in this rosewater, pistachio and cranberry nougat. Here’s the recipe from The Healthy Cook. [4] A variation of Italian torrone with cocoa (chocolate) flavoring and almonds, with edible rice paper on the top and bottom. Here’s the recipe from Butter Baking. [5] The All-American: chocolate peanut nougat. Here’s the recipe from Kitchen Sanctuary.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor. Pulse until the strawberries turn into a powder (a clumpy texture is O.K.). Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

    2. LINE a 8 x 5-inch (a 9 x 5-inch will work too) loaf pan with wax paper or parchment, making sure there are a few inches of flaps on each side (this will make the removal of the nougat super easy). Spray a spatula with cooking spray.

    3. COMBINE the sugar, corn syrup, honey, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Give it a light stir until everything dissolves; then cook until a digital thermometer reads 260°F (the hardball stage).

    4. ADD the egg whites to the bowl of a stand-up mixer (or use a hand-mixer) and beat on low until they begin to get frothy and eventually turn into stiff peaks. While beating the stiff egg whites at low, slowly pour in the sugar syrup (step 3). Immediately add the powdered strawberries.

    5. TURN the speed of the mixer to high and beat until the candy starts to thicken and hold a bit of shape, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour in the pistachios and transfer the nougat to the loaf pan, using the pre-sprayed spatula—the nougat will be sticky.

    6. TOP with a sheet of wax paper. Press the top of the wax paper down to the surface so the top of the nougat will be smooth and even. Allow to set at room temperature for about 2 hours. When the nougat has set…

    7. LIFT up the sides the wax paper, remove the top sheet and spray a sharp knife with cooking spray. Cut up the nougat with a sharp knife into slices or 1 x 1-inch cubes.

    Nougat will stay fresh for a week when kept in an airtight container.

     

    Pistachio Nougat

    White Chocolate Nougat With Nuts & Candied Fruits

    Nougat Noir With Hazelnuts

    Brown Nougat

    German Nougat

    [6] Classic vanilla nougat with nuts (here, pistachios, although almonds are common and any nut can be used). Here’s the recipe from Aran Goyoaga, Canelle et Vanille. [7] White chocolate nougat with nuts and fruits. Photo © Elizabeth LaBau. Here’s the recipe from The Spruce. [8] Brown nougat, a.k.a. nougat noir, with hazelnuts. Here’s the recipe (in French) from Les Foodies, and [9] a loaf recipe recipe (in Italian) from Tavolarte Gusto). [10] German or Viennese nougat: hazelnut praline (photo courtesy Juergen Jeibmann | German Wikipedia).

     

    THE HISTORY OF NOUGAT

    The French word nougat, adopted by English speakers, comes from Occitan (dialect of Provence, France) pan nogat, likely derived from the Latin panis nucatus, nut bread. In late colloquial Latin, the adjective nucatum means nutted or nutty.

    The earliest known recipes for white nougat, which probably came from Central Asia, have been found in the Middle East.

    A 10th century book from Baghdad (in modern Iraq) calls the recipe natif. One of the recipes indicates that the it comes from Harran, a city located between Urfa, now in southeast Turkey. Another comes from Aleppo, in Syria.

    Mention of natif is found in works from the triangle between Urfa, Aleppo and Baghdad.

    At the end of the 10th century, the traveler and geographer Ibn Hawqal wrote that he ate some natif in Manbij (in modern Syria) and Bukhara (in modern Uzbekistan) [source].

    When it reached southern Europe, notably Italy and Spain, nougat (called, respectively, torrone and turrón) was a specialty associated with the Christmas season.

    Next Stop: Renaissance Italy

    Thanks to Flamingi, makers of fine Italian nougat, for helping us to continue the story.

    We start with a tale, likely apocryphal. It takes place in the city of Cremona, in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. On October 25, 1441: Bianca Maria Visconti was married to Francesco Sforza. The union allowed the Sforza family to dominate the Duchy of Milan for the next half century.

    According to the story, nougat (torrone) was first created for the wedding feast.

    It was made in it the shape of the Torrazzo, the bell tower of the Cremona cathedral. The claim is that torrone derives from “Torrazzo” (but wait….)

    Is the story too good to be true? Yes: It seems to have been cited for the first time in a monograph published by the Chamber of Commerce of Cremona in 1914.

    Earlier Claims From The Other End Of Italy

    Let’s head south, to Benevento, the main town of the ancient Sannio region (in Latin, Samnium) in the southern part of Italy in what is now Campania. The people there lay claim to have having invented torrone.

    As proof, they refer to the Roman historian Livy (Titus Livius, 59 B.C.E. to 17 C.E.) and the Roman poet Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis, 40 C.E. to 104 C.E.), claiming that these ancients documented in their writings the existence of nougat in that area, called cupedia.

    However, in this digitized world, research cannot find a mention of cupedia. There is a similar Latin word, cuppedia, that does not appear in the writings of Livy and Martial.

    Cuppedia can be translated as the deadly sin of gluttony, or as a delicacy. But what type of delicacy?

    Italy As The Origin Gets Very Confusing

    In various Italian dialects there are similar words: cupeta, copeta, copata and coppetta, which identify sweets similar to nougat or croccante, a product made with almonds or hazelnuts bound with caramelized sugar.

    Cupeta and torrone are traditional products not only in Sannio, but also in Abruzzo, Calabria, Emilia Romagna, Lazio, Lombardy, Marche, Molise, Piedmont, Puglia, Sardinia, Tuscany, Valtellina, Veneto and finally, in Sicily, where croccante is called cubbaita.

    That’s a lot of territory, for one to claim to be “the first” to invent torrone, absent any documentation.

    By the 16th century, however, torrone is documented for sale in some apothecaries. Earlier, by the 15th century, turrón is documented in Spain.

    The Spanish word, turrón, is quite similar to the Italian word torrone, and its most reliable source can be found in the Latin verb torrere, which means to toast (the nuts).

    So take that, Torrazo bell tower of the Cremona cathedral! Take that, Benevento. We’re sticking with the Middle East, around the 10th century.

    Back To The Middle East

    References there to “roasted seeds kept together by a sweet paste” can equally refer to other products produced in many countries, starting with the Middle Eastern halva, made from ground sesame seeds and honey.

    Some scholars suggest it originated before the 12th century, in Byzantium, and is documented at least by the 13th century—so nougat/natif is older.

    Similar roasted seeds or nuts bound with a sweet paste can be found in other Middle Eastern Countries, as well as in the Slavic countries, and as far away as India.

    While the earliest residents of the Middle East ate dates and figs and honey† as their “candy,” their descendants combined ingredients into more complex sweets.

     
    Now, we just need someone to dig up documented information in Central Asia (from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east, from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north) to discover the first mention of nougat—whatever it was called there.

    Honey: The Oldest Candy

    Archaeologists have found beehive colonies in Israel, dating from the 10th to early 9th centuries B.C.E. [source].

    But honey is far older than mankind—very far.

    Honeybees first appeared during the Cretaceous Period, about 130 million years ago, in the area around what is now India.

    But it was during a Pleistocene warming about 2-3 million years ago, that the honeybee spread west into Europe and then Africa (still no mankind†), stopping in the Middle East en route [source].
     
     
    DO YOU LIKE FOOD HISTORY?

    THE NIBBLE has written some 200 histories of foods, beverages, and cooking techniques.

    Some are just a couple of paragraphs, some are as long as the history above, and most are in-between.

    You can find all the links on our food histories page.

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    †Species of early Homonids appeared in Africa about 2 million years ago and went extinct, as did all the other hominid lines before Homo sapiens. The modern species of Homo appeared about 600,000 years ago in Africa and migrated from there to Europe and Asia. The Neanderthals appeared in Europe about 130,000 years ago, distinguished by their manufacture of diverse tools and evidence of symbolic thinking. [source].

    Thus far, the earliest discovery of modern Homo sapiens skeletons come from Africa and date to nearly 200,000 years ago. They appear in Southwest Asia around 100,000 years ago and elsewhere in the Old World by 60,000-40,000 years ago [source].

      

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    PRODUCT: Good Zebra Gourmet Animal Crackers

    Good Zebra Animal Crackers

    Good Zebra Animal Crackers

    Spirit animals await you, in chai, lemon and vanilla. Photos courtesy Good Zebra.

     

    Good Zebra calls their animal crackers “spirit animal crackers.” That’s because their four varieties represent different spirit animals.

    You can take the quiz to find your spirit animal—a totem representing you in the animal kingdom.

    A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol of a tribe, clan, family or individual.

    Native American tradition provides that each individual is connected with nine different animals that will accompany each person through life, acting as guides.

    Cultures around the world consider their spirit animal to be an otherworldly guide, who appears during difficult times to offer love, healing and/or support.

    It generally takes the form of an animal with which a person (or a clan) shares a certain set of characteristics, and thus a kinship.

    The animal acts as a guide and protector for humans. In death, the humans’ spirits are absorbed into the animal. (Here’s more from The Atlantic.)

    You don’t have to pursue your spirit animal in order to enjoy Good Zebra animal crackers, however.

    We call Good Zebra gourmet animal crackers, because the sophisticated flavors taste so good—in chai, lemon and vanilla.

    There are 11 different animal shapes*, inspired by original tattoo art, “each with a soul-touching message to enlighten, uplift and empower,” according to the producers.

     

    Each 2-ounce resealable bag contains approximately 20 animal crackers, delivering 12 grams of protein.

    The crackers are all natural, nothing processed or refined (they’re sweetened with honey and coconut sugar). Made with 70% organic ingredients, they’re certified kosher by OU.

    You can buy 12 packages for $28 or four packages for $17.

    Get yours at Good-Zebra.com.

    If you’d prefer to bake your own animal crackers, here’s a recipe.

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    *We identified a butterfly, deer, fox, grizzly bear, kestrel, owl, peacock, turtle, unicorn, wolf, and of course, zebra. There is a Native American zodiac with additional animal symbols.

     
      

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