5 Amazing Food Origin Stories You've Probably Never Heard Of
We’ve learned to cook and dine ever since the first cavemen learned how to make fire and we’ve continued to develop and eat great food since then. The average person will eat about 35 tons of food throughout his/her life and we as the human race consume 11.5 million pounds of food every minute. Every person has a preferred taste when it comes to food, but do we know how our favorite meal was created or where it came from?
Here are amazing origin stories of some of our favorite food.
French fries. In 1802, Thomas Jefferson had the White House chef prepare “potatoes served in the French manner” for a dinner party describing the dish as “Potatoes deep-fried while raw, in small cuttings”. The late president apparently encountered the tasty snack while serving as American Minister to France from 1784 to 1789. This may be the earliest reference on the fries being "French".
Though the fry might be “French”, it might not have come from France after all. Common lore claims that French fries originated in Belgium. Locals used to fry small fish as a staple for their meals. When the river froze over during winter, people purportedly fried potatoes instead of the small fish they were accustomed to, and the fry was born. Americans stationed there during World War I gave the moniker “French fries” as people there spoke french.
Caesar salad. This salad was neither named after the famous Julius Caesar nor invented anywhere near Rome. Caesar salad was invented by Caesar Cardini, an Italian-American who had a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico where the famous salad was first served. Cardini concocted the dish when the kitchen’s supply was depleted by a Fourth of July rush in 1924. His daughter remembers him putting together whatever was left on hand and tossing them table-side for flair.
Caesar Cardini’s brother, Alex Cardini also claims to have invented the salad when he made breakfast for his pilot buddies at Ceasar’s restaurant. He contended that in the morning after a night of drinking, he made the salad with anchovies and called it “Aviator’s salad”. But that salad gained popularity and later evolved to “Caesar’s salad”, naming it after where it was first made.
Hotdogs. Historians trace the beginnings to the era of the Roman emperor Nero, whose cook, Gaius, may have made the first sausages. The meat traveled across Europe and eventually made its way to Germany where they created different versions.
Nobody knows how the sausage ended up in a bun but there is a story that historians can’t quite accept. The story goes that a bavarian concessionaire named Anton Feuchtwanger loaned white gloves to his patrons to hold his piping hot sausages. When he ran out of gloves, his brother-in-law improvised by using long soft rolls the fit the meat consequently inventing the first hotdog bun.
The story of how the “Hot dog” name came about has many versions. Some say the word was coined in 1901 when vendors were hawking hot dogs shouting "They're red hot! Get your dachshund sausages while they're red hot!" A New York Journal sports cartoonist saw the scene and hastily drew a cartoon of barking dachshund sausages nestled in rolls. Not sure how to spell "dachshund" he simply wrote "hot dog!" The cartoon is said to have caused a sensation, thus coining the term "hot dog." Historians however have been unable to find this cartoon.
Croissant. Like any other food, the croissant has a couple of different origin story versions attached to it. A romanticized version is that of Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the french revolution. Marie Antoinette was said to have popularized the pastry when she asked french bakers to make Kipferl, a traditional yeast bread from Austria.
Another story dates to 1683, during the Ottoman Turks siege of Vienna. A baker working late at night heard the Turks tunneling under the walls of the city and alerted the military. The military eliminated the threat and saved the city. The baker then baked a crescent-shaped pastry in the shape of the Turk’s Islamic emblem, the crescent moon, to celebrate the victory.
In 1915 a French Baker name Sylvain Claudius Goy wrote the recipe that would cement the technique that remains at the heart of baking the modern croissant. His use of yeast differentiated his rolls from traditional puff pastries and gave birth to the croissant of the present day.
Ketchup. Ketchup just might be America’s favorite condiment filling up 97% of the country’s kitchens. It started as a completely tomato-free seasoning made to be added to recipes rather than used as a condiment.
Ketchup’s story started in Southern China. The fish sauce, called “ge-thcup” or “koe-cheup” by speakers of the Southern Min dialect, traveled along trade routes to Indonesia and the Philippines where British traders developed the taste for the seasoning. When the British tried to replicate it, they use ingredients such as anchovies or oysters, mushrooms, and walnuts since it closely resembled Worcestershire sauce. It was only until English settlers brought the mushroom ketchup to America did they add tomatoes creating the base for the modern ketchup.