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Pumpkin And Mushroom Lasagna Recipe For National Pumpkin Month

Combine National Pasta Month (October), National Pasta Day (October 17th), National Pumpkin Day and Month (October and October 26th), and National Mushroom Day (October 15th) and lasagna, and you get a reason to make this delicious Pumpkin Mushroom Lasagna. National Lasagna Day is July 29th; but in our opinion, the weather is too hot for a baked pasta dish.

Here’s a recipe from the Wheat Foods Council, plus more pumpkin pasta recipes below.
 
 
RECIPE: PUMPKIN MUSHROOM LASAGNA

Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • Cooking spray to coat pan
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1½ cups canned solid–pack pumpkin (a.k.a. pumpkin purée)
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dry sage)
  • Dash pepper
  • 9 oven ready (no boiling required) lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (reduced fat O.K.)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese (part-skim O.K.)
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°. Lightly coated an 11-x-7 inch baking dish with cooking spray

    2. HEAT the oil in a small skillet; add the onion and sauté until tender. Add mushrooms and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook for about 2 minutes until mushrooms are heated through. Set aside.

    3. MAKE the pumpkin sauce: Combine the pumpkin, half and half, sage, pepper, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl.

    4. SPREAD ½ cup of the pumpkin sauce in the baking dish. Top with 3 noodles (noodles will overlap slightly). Spread ½ cup pumpkin sauce to edges of noodles.

    5. TOP with half of the mushroom mixture, ½ cup ricotta cheese, ½ cup mozzarella, and ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers and top with the remaining noodles and pumpkin sauce.

    6. COVER and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

    This recipe is © copyright 2019 by Wheat Foods Council.
     
     
    > THE HISTORY OF LASAGNA

    > THE HISTORY OF PASTA

    > THE HISTORY OF BAKED PASTA
     
     
    MORE PUMPKIN RECIPES FOR PASTA & PIZZA

  • Dutch Oven Pumpkin Lasagna
  • Mac & Cheese Baked In A Pumpkin
  • Orecchiette With Pumpkin & Sausage
  • Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo
  • Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
  • Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pizza With Bacon, Apples & Sage
  • Pumpkin Pizza With Goat Cheese
  • Pumpkin Ravioli
  • Pumpkin Soup With Bacon, Sage & Gnocchi
  • Ravioli Lasagna With Pumpkin Sauce
  • Spicy Pappardelle With Pumpkin
  • Spicy Pumpkin Carbonara
  •  


    [1] A harvest lasagna with pumpkin and mushrooms (photo © Wheat Foods Council).


    [2] Here’s how to make homemade pumpkin purée (photo © Foodal).


    [3] Use your favorite fresh mushrooms. These are basic white button mushrooms (photo © Alleksana | Pexels).


    [4] Sage leaves (photo © Good Eggs).

     

     
     
      

    Comments

    What Is World Food Day & How It Affects You


    [1] Beautiful tomatoes that everyone would buy. Compare to the misshapen tomato below, that no one in a first-world country wants to buy (photo courtesy FAO).


    [2] Misshapen produce, although tasting just like normally attractive produce, is thrown away (photo © U.C. Davis).


    [3] Fruits with surface blemishes are not acceptable in first world countries, and are tossed away—even though removing the inedible peel makes the fruit perfectly fine to eat (photo by Pijarn Jangsawang | CCO Public Domain).


    [4] Would you buy these pears? Wind or rain caused the blotches, but they taste perfectly good—even the skin (photo © Not Eating Out In New York).


    [5] Before you throw it out, here’s how to soften stale bread, and recipes for it (photo © )(


    [6] Can you eat sprouted potatoes? Yes, just cut them out. Here’s more about it (photo © Mashed).


    [7] Can you eat cheese with mold? Yes; just cut it off. Here’s more about it (photo © Culture Cheese Magazine).


    [8] Sustainable fish farming (photo © Ollirg | iStock Photo).


    [9] From backyard bins to pails for the smallest kitchens, there’s a compost pail for everyone (this one, from Gardeners.com).

     

    World Food Day, October 16th, is an international holiday that commemorates the date of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in 1945. “The food you choose and the way you consume it affects our health and that of our planet.” says the organization. “Each time you eat, you participate in the system. So you need to be part of the change” to improve it.

    Here’s what you need to know about World Food Day. Thanks to the Food And Agriculture Of The United Nations for this information.

    To see what you, personally, can do about it, see the section below.
     
     
    WHAT IS AN AGRI-FOOD SYSTEM?

    An agri-food system may seem like an academic term, but your life depends on it. Agri-food systems employ 1 billion people worldwide, more than any other economic sector.

    The way we produce, prepare, consume, store and waste food exacts a heavy toll on our planet.

  • It puts unnecessary pressure on natural resources and the environment.
  • Food production too often degrades or destroys natural habitats and contributes to species extinction.
  • Inefficiency costs trillions of dollars.
  • It also exposes profound inequalities in our global society.
  • Three billion people cannot afford healthy diets, while obesity continue to increase worldwide.
  •  
    The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that urgent change is needed. The pandemic has made it even harder for farmers, already grappling with climate variability, to grow and sell their harvests.

    At the same time, in the U.S. alone, rising poverty is pushing an increased number of city residents to use food banks. Millions of people require emergency food aid.

    Worldwide, we need sustainable agri-food systems that are capable of nourishing 10 billion people by 2050.
     
     
    WHAT IS A SUSTAINABLE AGRI-FOOD SYSTEM?

    A sustainable agri-food system is one in which a variety of sufficient, nutritious foods is available at an affordable price to everyone. Nobody goes hungry or suffers from malnutrition.

  • Food security and nutrition are available for all, without compromising the economic, social, and environmental bases, for generations to come.
  • The shelves are stocked at the local market, and less food is wasted.
  • The food supply chain is more resilient to shocks, such as extreme weather, shortages and price spikes, and pandemics.
  • Environmental degradation and climate change are limited, rather than worsening.
  • Improvements lead to better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all.
  •  
     
    WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT?

    This massive challenge requires that governments need to both repurpose old policies and adopt new ones to foster sustainable production of affordable nutritious foods.

  • Policies need to promote equality and learning, drive innovation, boost rural incomes, offer safety nets to small farms, and build climate resilience.
  • They also need to consider the multiple linkages between areas affecting food systems, including education, health, energy, social protection, finance and others, and make solutions fit together.
  • They need to be backed by a major increase in responsible investment and strong support to reduce negative environmental and social impacts across sectors, particularly the private sector, civil society, researchers and academia.
     
    The U.N. Secretary-General convened the very first Food Systems Summit in September 2021 to forge consensus on bold new actions to transform the way the world produces and consumes food.

    The aim is to get back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
     
     
    WHAT WE THROW AWAY

    Across the world, we waste 1,555 million tons of food each year [source].

    Here are the food categories that are wasted the most, shown in tons and as a percentage share of the total amount of food wasted.

  • Fruits and vegetables: 644 million tons thrown away (42%)
  • Cereals*: 347 million tons thrown away (22%)
  • Roots and tubers†: 275 million tons thrown away (18%)
  • Dairy: 143 million tons thrown away (9%)
  • Meat: 74 million tons thrown away (5%)
  • Oil seeds and pulses: 50 million tons thrown away (3%)
  • Fish and seafood: 22 million tons thrown away (1%)
  •  
     
    WHAT WE DO WRONG

    Each year, 108 billion pounds of food is wasted in the U.S.—shockingly, nearly 40% of all food in America is wasted.

    It’s even more shocking because, before COVID-19, it was estimated 35 million people across America, including 10 million children, suffered from food insecurity (not enough to eat).

    That equates to more than $161 billion worth of food thrown away each year.

  • Some of it is wasted because people buy more than they need, and it rots before it can be eaten.
  • Some of it is deemed unsaleable because its appearance is not as attractive as the norm (see photos #2, #3 and #4).
  •  
    Americans waste more food per capita than any other country.
    Here’s more depressing data:

  • Growing wasted food takes 21% of fresh water supply.
  • It occupies 18% of all cropland and uses 19% of all fertilizer.
  • Wasted food occupies 21% of all landfill volume.
  • A large percentage of greenhouse gases are emitted in producing, processing, and transporting food, along with the methane emissions from food disposed of in landfills.
  •  
    The average American family of four throws out $1,500 in food per year [source]. Even the least wasteful household wastes 8.7% of the food it acquires [source].

    Why do we waste so much food?
     
     
    WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY
     
    Understand Food Labeling

    More than 80% of Americans discard perfectly good, consumable food simply because they misunderstand expiration labels.

    Labels like “sell by,” “use by,” “expires on,” “best before” or “best by” are confusing to people. So rather than risk the potential of a food-related illness, they’ll toss it in the garbage. These are recommended dates, not imperative dates.

    (We were amused not too long ago to see that a gallon of water we discovered at the back of a closet had expired. Governments demand particular expiration dates. If someone found it in 100 years, the water would be fine.)

    Some friends were surprised that we kept food that was past its expiration date. Flour, sugar and other dry foods can last “forever.” Even canned goods have a much longer shelf life. Here’s a tip learned from our mother:

  • The sniff test: Open the package or can and smell it. If there’s no off odor, it’s good to eat.
  • The pinkie test: As a second test, dip a fingertip into the can. Taste it briefly. If it tastes fine, it’s good to go.
  •  
    Know What To Do With Food That’s No Longer Fresh

    Learn what to do with food that will soon spoil and must be eaten in the next day or so. It’s easy to look up options online. Here are some starters:

  • Apples: Store them in a cold, dark and well-ventilated place. The produce bin of your refrigerator is a good start. If they start to get soft, make applesauce or baked apples, or an apple pie.
  • Bread: It freezes really well, so if you have too much left over, freeze it. Even stale bread can be turned into croutons, breadcrumbs, French toast or bread pudding. Here’s how to soften stale bread, and recipes that use stale bread.
  • Cheese: If it develops mold, just scrape it off and use the rest in baked pasta dishes, cheese sauce, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, nachos, etc.
  • Milk: Before your milk turns, make smoothies, hot chocolate, pudding, or a cream sauce for grains, proteins, and vegetables.
  • Potatoes: Store potatoes in a dark place so they last longer. If they are getting soft, cook them, mash them and freeze them. If they’ve grown eyes, it’s no biggie: Just remove them before cooking.
  •  
    Compost

    Even if you don’t have a yard, there are kitchen-size composting units. In our apartment building, the tenants requested—and got—composting bins for building-wide use.
     
    Upcycle

    And learn to upcycle your kitchen trimmings.
     
     
    ________________

    *Including bread.

    †Including potatoes.

    ‡Edible seed oils include canola seed, cottonseed, grapeseed, mustard seed, niger seed, peanut (groundnut), rapeseed, sunflower seed, sesame seed, safflower seed, soybean seed and sunflower seed. Pulses include chickpeas, cow peas, dry beans, dry broad beans, dry peas, lentils and pigeon peas, among others.

     

     
     
      

    Comments

    Jones Turkey & Gravy Soda For Thanksgiving

    In 2003 Jones Soda, a Seattle company known its bottle labels that feature photos found a way to Thanksgiving even more fun. They turned Thanksgiving dinner items into soda flavors. The limited-edition five-pack contained Turkey & Gravy Soda, plus four others that varied by year, including:

  • Cranberry Soda
  • Dinner Roll Soda
  • Fruitcake Soda
  • Green Bean Casserole Soda
  • Green Pea Soda
  • Mashed Potatoes & Butter Soda
  • Sweet Potato Soda…
  •  
    and last but not least,

  • Antacid Flavored Soda
  •  
    Although drinkable, these flavors were meant as a gag rather than a fantastic soda experience. It took until 2015 for the brand to issue a “legit” Pumpkin Pie soda (which is no longer in the holiday lineup).
     
     
    25TH ANNIVERSARY EXCITEMENT

    The Thanksgiving flavors have not been made for more than 10 years. But in honor of the brand’s 25th anniversary, Jones has released a limited-edition 35,000 bottle run of the famed Turkey & Gravy Soda.

    This “liquid entrée” is a limited edition that is already sold out on the company website.

    Jones Soda Turkey and Gravy Soda is available at more than 1,500 Kroger stores throughout the U.S., and at Albertsons Safeway stores in Oregon.

    In Canada, consumers can find the flavor at select Buy Low Foods, AG Foods, Nesters, Federated Coop Stores, Rabba and Little Short Stop stores.

    The return of Turkey & Gravy Soda is part of the Jones Soda special release program, which introduces a rotating series of new and retired flavors throughout the year.

    The program launched earlier this year with Special Release Birthday Cake Soda and Special Release Pineapple Cream Soda, two flavors from the brand’s archives that are frequently requested because of their fun taste profiles.
     
     
    CREATE PERSONALIZED BOTTLES

    Jones has a year-round program where you can create your own soda label, choosing from background choices Regular, Gender Reveal, Holiday, Pride, and Wedding. Choose from nine flavors, add a photo and text.

    Head to MyJones.com.

     


    [1] Have some mashed potatoes with your Turkey & Gravy soda (all photos © Jones Soda).


    [2] If you can get your hands on them, you might grace your table with “place setting” bottles instead of chocolate turkeys.


    [3] The original Thankgiving five-pack.

     

     
     
      

    Comments

    Pumpkin Pizza Recipe With Bacon, Apples & Sage


    [1] A special fall pizza with pumpkin purée, apples, bacon and sage (photos #1, #3 and #4 © Good Eggs).


    [2] Cut and precook raw bacon. Fifteen minutes on the pizza isn’t enough to cook raw bacon (photo © Jami Lynn Gardner | CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 License).

    Canned Pumpkin
    [3] Pumpkin purée is not sweetened. That’s pumpkin pie filling. Be sure to buy purée (photo © Jessica Gavin Photography).


    [4] The sweet-tart Granny Smith is a perfect “pizza apple.”


    [5] Fresh sage has a heavenly aroma and flavor.


    [6] Butternut squash pizza, a white pizza variation with roasted butternut squash cubes, from pizza champion Theo Kalogaceros, (photo © Theo Kalogaceros).

     

    How about a special pizza for fall? This recipe, from Good Eggs, substitutes pumpkin purée for the tomato sauce and tops the pie with bacon, apples and fresh sage. The bright flavors create a special pizza experience for the harvest season.

    Be sure to purchase pumpkin purée, not pumpkin pie filling. The latter is sweetened and spiced.

    See uses for the leftover pumpkin purée and leftover sage, below.
     
     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN PIZZA WITH BACON, APPLES & SAGE

    This recipe is for a 12-inch pizza. For a larger pie, increase the ingredients accordingly.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients

  • Pizza dough
  • 1-2 Granny Smith apples, based on size of pizza
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloives
  • Fresh sage, to faste
  • Bacon, chopped and cooked
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Optional: grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • For pan: all-purpose flour
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 475°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil. Set the pizza dough on the counter and let it come to room temperature.

    2. CORE and slice the apple. Toss the apple slices with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

    3. CHOP 2 to 3 garlic cloves. Pick some of the sage leaves, toss the stems, and tear the leaves. Roughly chop any larger pieces of bacon, as necessary.

    4. STIR together in a bowl ½ cup pumpkin purée with 1 tablespoon olive oil (for a 12″ pizza; double for a large pizza). Save any remaining purée for another use. Add the garlic and a pinch of grated nutmeg, and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

    5. SHAPE the dough into a round n a lightly floured work surface. Use your hands or a rolling pin to gently stretch and flatten the dough into a 12-inch disc, about ¼ inch thick.

    6. TRANSFER the dough to the sheet pan. Spread with the pumpkin purée and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Scatter the apple slices over the top. Shower the bacon over the pie, along with half of the torn sage. (Use a light hand and leave some space between toppings, so you don’t weigh down the dough.)

    7. SET the pan in the oven and bake until the crust is lightly golden around the edges and the cheese is bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes.

    8. TRANSFER the pizza to a cutting board and cut it into wedges. Sprinkle with the remaining torn sage and serve warm.
     
     
    USES FOR LEFTOVER PUMPKIN PURÉE

    You can keep leftover pumpkin purée in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.

    If you can’t use it within that time, you can freeze it for up to a year. Seal the purée in a zip-top freezer bag and label it. and toss it into the freezer. If you want to pre-portion the purée, freeze it in an ice cube tray or a muffin tin. Once frozen, remove the cubes or pucks and store them in a freezer bag.

    Thanks to Taste Of Home for the tips!

    You can add pumpkin purée to cookies and bars, cheesecake, muffins and quickbreads. But these uses don’t require you to go out of your way:
     
    For Breakfast

  • Oatmeal: Stir pumpkin purée into oatmeal with a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar.
  • Pancakes: Add pumpkin to your favorite pancake recipe, with a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Don’t forget the maple syrup!
  • Spread: Blend with cream cheese to top a bagel or toast.
  • Yogurt Parfait: Layer up yogurt, crunchy granola and your leftover pumpkin purée for a simple breakfast.
  •  
    For Beverages

  • Cocoa: Mix a dollop of pumpkin and a dash of pumpkin pie spice into a cup of hot cocoa.
  • Milkshake: Blend vanilla ice cream, milk, pumpkin and your favorite spices for a fall milkshake.
  • PSL: Add the purée to a mug of espresso or dark roast coffee, along with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and sweetener.
  • Smoothie: Add a few tablespoons to your next smoothie. Pumpkin is a great source of vitamins A and C, plus these health benefits.
  •  
    Dinner

  • Side Dish. Heat the purée and garnish with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, and a pat of butter.
  • Pudding. Mix in a sweetener (consider maple syrup instead of sugar) and pumpkin pie spice. Heat and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
  •  
     
    USES FOR LEFTOVER SAGE

  • Chop and add it to grains, omelets, pasta sauce, salads.
  • Cover it in olive oil, refrigerate and use for sautes.
  • Freeze it in oil for future use.
  • Garnish soups.
  • Infuse honey, oil or vinegar.
  • Use as a plate garnish.
  • Make compound butter to use for other sauces and spreads.
  • Make sage pesto.
  • Mix into stuffing.
  •  
     
    > 50 MORE PIZZA RECIPES
     
     
    > THE HISTORY OF PIZZA

     

     
     
      

    Comments

    The History Of Dessert For National Dessert Day


    [1] Simple but elegant: a layered pound cake with whipped cream and berries. Here’s the recipe (photo © The Baker Chick)


    [2] Do you prefer a fancy tart or a simple piece of apple pie? Here’s the recipe (photo © The Lemon Apron).


    [3] Gelato was invented in the 16th century; but it was so labor-intensive that only those with servants would have it. Here’s the history of ice cream (photo © Häagen Dazs).


    [4] While savory mousse dishes appeared in France in the 16th century, sweet mousse recipes date to the second half of the 19th century (here’s the history of mousse). Chocolate pudding (and other cornstarch- and arrowroot-thickened puddings) appeared in the 19th century. Here’s the history (photo © Morton’s The Steakhouse).


    [5] Baked custards, date to the Middle Ages, were thickened with eggs (photo © Xie Biyun | Fotolia).


    [6] All-American apple pie with a lattice crust (photo © King Arthur Flour).


    [7] Gingerbread first appeared in 15th-century Germany. The spices were so costly that gingerbread was a special holiday confection. Here’s the recipe and the history of gingerbread (photo © McCormick).


    [8] Savory cheesecakes were made as far back as ancient Greece. But the creation of modern, sweet, cream cheese-based cheesecake began in 1872, when cream cheese was invented by accident in New York. Here’s the history of cheesecake (photo by Elvira Kalviste | © THE NIBBLE).

     

    October 14th is National Dessert Day. Dessert can be a naturally sweet food like fruit, or a prepared confection: cakes, cookies, custards, fruit salads, gelatins, ice creams, pastries, pies, puddings, sweet soups, tarts and more. Sometimes a sweet wine or liqueur is served; sometimes the dessert consists only of the glass of wine or liqueur. If you define dessert as a sweet course at the end of the meal, then dessert is a relatively recent concept, dating to the 17th century.

    There were fruits, but the truly sweet food started with honey, which was gathered by prehistoric man to please his sweet tooth.

    But sweet foods, from honey to dates to other fruits, were a long way from becoming “dessert.”

    Dried fruit and honey were probably the first sweeteners used in most of the world.

    Way back in ancient India and Mesopotamia, sweet foods—often dried fruits and nuts rolled in honey—were so valued that they were left at altars to the gods [source].

    The Persians loved their sweets. Herodotus (484 to 425 B.C.E.), the Greek historian who wrote extensively on the Persian Empire, noted that the main Persian meal was simple, but the Persians would eat many sweet foods afterward [source].

    The oldest written reference to honey dates back to Egypt in 5500 B.C.E., and references to honey abound in antiquity.

    But honeybees are far older than man’s historical record—written, painted or otherwise. Honeybees originated in Southeast Asia some 40 million years ago. Apis mellifera, known as the Western honeybee, probably originated in Tropical Africa and spread from there, north to Europe and east to Asia.

    So Africans, Middle Easterners and Europeans had their honey until sugarcane arrived. The spread of sugarcane around the world was essential to the development of dessert.
     
     
    THE ORIGIN OF SUGARCANE

    Sugarcane was originally domesticated around 8000 B.C.E. in New Guinea, an island in the eastern Malay Archipelago, north of Australia.

    Originally, people chewed on the raw sugar cane stalks to enjoy the sweetness of the juice inside.

    From New Guinea, knowledge about sugarcane slowly spread east across Southeast Asia until it reached what is now India, where the first organized production of sugar began [source].

    Refined sugar appears around 500 B.C.E., when residents of India began to make sugar syrup from the cane juice.

    They heated, then cooled it to form crystals that were easier to store and transport than the cane juice. These crystals were called khanda, which is the source of the word candy.

    Sugar and sugarcane were traded, making sugar available to Macedonia by 300 B.C.E. and to China by 600 C.E.

    In the 6th century B.C.E., the Persians invaded India and marveled at the “reed which gives honey without the need for bees” [source].

    In the reign of Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C.E., sugarcane reached the Middle East, where it became a crop.
     
     
    SUGAR COMES TO EUROPE

    Sugar was little known and rare in Europe until the twelfth century or later, when the Crusades and then colonization spread its use.

    Europeans began to manufacture sugar in the Middle Ages, and as sugar became more affordable, more sweet desserts became available.

    In the Middle Ages in England, France, Italy, and other countries in Europe, dessert as a sweet course following a savory meal still didn’t exist.

    Medieval Europeans sweetened their food with honey up to the eleventh or twelfth century. When sugar arrived in 12th century Europe, it was so costly that only the wealthy could indulge, and usually on special occasions like banquets.

    There was still no tradition of a dessert to conclude a meal, either in Europe or other parts of the world [source].

    Yes, sweets were around: candied nuts and fruits, and other candies and confections.

    But even among the elaborate meals of the wealthy where there was plenty of sugar, there was little order to the incorporation of sugar in the procession of a meal—with an emphasis on order.

    At the banquet table, sweet cakes, pastries, custards, jellies, candied nuts, fruits and flowers, and other sweets were interspersed with the courses of meats, seafood and vegetables.

    These sweets served as palate cleansers between courses, and were believed to be effective digestive aids and fending off “dispelling wind,” as noted by one particularly eloquent 17th-century Frenchman [source].

    Perhaps most disturbing to modern palates, sugar was used as a seasoning for savory dishes!

    Sprinkling sugar on a stew or a cooked bird, or presenting a course of eel in marzipan or in sweet custard, were ways to flaunt one’s wealth.

    Sugar may not have been the tastiest garnish for savory foods, but it looked and tasted “rich,” if not particularly delicious.

    Like all trends, it wouldn’t last forever, but sugar in sweet dishes—cakes, custards, pies, puddings, etc.—remained a status symbol.

    And talk about status: The creation of large sugar sculptures to grace a feast was first created for a ball in honor of Henri III of France at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, in 1574.

    That’s a fortune in pricey sugar. (We’re guessing that after the banquets, it was recycled back into the kitchen.)

    We had to wait another century for the concept of dessert as a course began to emerge. Until then, let’s take a look at:
     
     
    SUGAR COMES TO THE AMERICAS

    From the late 15th century, shortly after Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to America in the 15th century, sugarcane plantations were developed in the West Indies and then in South America, particularly in Brazil.

    Sugar became the top colonial commodity, planted and harvested by enslaved Africans. This sugar harvest supplied Europe.

    In 1757, beet sugar was discovered by Andreas Sigismund Marggraf of Berlin, who was a pioneer of analytical chemistry.

    But it was not turned into a financially viable crop.

    In the early 19th century, England enacted a blockade on sugar from the West Indies, following England’s abolishment of slavery.

    Napoleon ordered sugar beet to be grown on French soil. In 1811, the first economically viable sugar beet processing plant was built in France.

    European-grown beet sugar became affordable and widely consumed by the late 19th century [source].

    Now, back to dessert.
     
     
    DESSERT BECOMES A COURSE

    According to Saveur, dessert as a distinct course may owe its birth to the salons that began in the late Renaissance, where people of culture and means would gather to drink tea and chat.

    Their chefs took the opportunity to prepare single-portion sweets to accompany the tea. Thus, èclairs, petit-fours and tartlets became popular—and an avenue to eat indulgent cakes and pastries outside of throwing a party.

    At the same time, a developing trend toward dinner service away from “service à la française,” French-style service, which involved setting a variety of dishes on the table at the same time, toward “service à la russe,” Russian-style service, which presents a meal in courses.

    Service à la russe often culminated in a final dessert dish of a small pastry with a cup of tea or coffee.
     
     
    THE WORD “DESSERT”

    The word “dessert” derives from the French word desservir, meaning “to clear the table.” The term first appears in the 16th century.

    It referred to a course that was served after the table had been cleared of other dishes.

    In France, this might have been a sweet course; but it should be noted that instead of a sweet ending to a daily meal, the French often ended their meal with a cheese course, with sweetness perhaps from fresh or dried fruits. Sweet baked desserts were often reserved for Sunday meals and special occasions.

    The first known use of the term “dessert” in English was in 1600. It appeared in a health education manual entitled “Naturall and artificial directions for health deriued from the best philosophers, as well moderne, as auncient” By William Vaughan, Master of Artes, and student in the ciuill law. Natural and Artificial Directions for Health, by William Vaughan.

    You can read parts of it here.

    Happy National Dessert Day!

     

     
     
      

    Comments

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