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In Dates, Nawal Nasrallah draws on her experience of growing up in the lands of ancient Mesopotamia, where the date palm was first cultivated, to explore the history behind the fruit. Dates have an important role in their arid homeland of the Middle East, where they are a dietary staple and can be consumed fresh or dried, as a snack or a dessert, and are even thought to have aphrodisiac qualities. In this history, Nasrallah describes the central role the date palm has played in the economy of the Middle East. This informative account of the date palm’s story follows its journey from its land of origin to the far-flung regions where it is cultivated today. Along the way, Nasrallah weaves many fascinating and humorous anecdotes that explore the etymology, history, culture, religion, myths, and legends surrounding dates. For example, she explains how the tree came to be a symbol of the Tree of Life and associated with the fiery phoenix bird, the famous ancient goddess Ishtar, and the moon, and how the medjool date acquired its name. This delightful and unusual book is generously illustrated with many beautiful images, and supplemented with more than a dozen delicious date recipes for savory dishes, sweets, and wine.
Char-grilled or boiled? Sauerkraut or chili? Mustard or ketchup? Vienna Beef or Sabrett? Only these questions could be raised about one of the world’s favorite backyard, picnic, ballgame, and street foods—the hotdog. Though nearly two billion hot dogs are consumed by Americans annually in the month of July alone, there is absolutely no consensus on which is the right way to serve up a hotdog. In Hot Dog, well known food historian Bruce Kraig recounts the history of this popular “tube steak” from the origin of the sausage 20,000 years ago to its central place in American culture today. Kraig discusses the many brands, including Hebrew National, Pearl, Sabrett, and Vienna Beef, and the regional variations that go along with them—like kosher-style New York dogs loaded with mustard and sauerkraut, New England dogs with Boston Baked Beans, and fully-loaded Chicago style hotdogs, complete with mustard, onion, relish, sport peppers, a dill pickle spear, a dash of celery salt, and tomato slices (but never, ever ketchup). Hot Dog covers the other international sausages, like bologna and bockwurst, as well, and explores some of the apocryphal tales of the hotdog in history—like the origin of its name and whether Queen Elizabeth II was truly served hotdogs on a visit to the White House. Packed with tasty facts and recipes, Hot Dog reveals the rich history and passionate opinions about this seemingly ordinary food.
The tangy, juicy sweetness of oranges has made them a mainstay on our breakfast tables, as snacks, and even as healthy desserts. Indeed, oranges and orange juices are so ubiquitous nowadays that we take them for granted—but their journey to our supermarket shelves is a long and tantalizing story, as Clarissa Hyman reveals in Oranges. Following the orange from its origins in the Mediterranean world to the grocery produce section, Hyman illuminates the wide-ranging cultural resonance and culinary presence of the popular fruit. Charting the arrival of bitter and sweet oranges in the Mediterranean, where they were seen as a gift from the gods, Hyman chronicles their dramatic voyage to the Americas and the impact they had on agriculture, garden design, and architecture along the way. She surveys the many varieties of oranges that now exist and analyzes their status as symbols of great wealth in art, an inspiration for poets and painters, and a source of natural health. Dealing with the practical complexities of orange cultivation, she details the challenges facing modern producers and consumers across the globe. Packed with delicious recipes and luscious photos, Oranges is a refreshing look at the king of citrus.
Curry is one of the most widely used—and misused—terms in the culinary lexicon. Outside of India, the word curry is often used as a catchall to describe any Indian dish or Indian food in general, yet Indians rarely use it to describe their own cuisine. Curry answers the question, “What is curry?” by giving a lively historical and descriptive account of a dish that has many incarnations. In this global history, food writer Colleen Taylor Sen describes in detail the Anglo-Indian origins of curry and how this widely used spice has been adapted throughout the world. Exploring the curry universe beyond India and Great Britain, her chronicles include the elegant, complex curries of Thailand; the exuberant curry/rotis of the Caribbean; kari/raisu, Japan’s favorite comfort food; Indonesian gulais and rendang; Malaysia’s delicious Nonya cuisine; and exotic Western hybrids such as American curried chicken salad, German currywurst, and Punjabi-Mexican-Hindu pizza. Along the way, Sen unravels common myths about curry and Indian food and illuminates the world of curry with excerpts from popular songs, literary works, historical and modern recipes, and illustrations depicting curry dishes and their preparations. A vibrant, flavorful book about an increasingly popular food, Curry will find a wide audience of cooking enthusiasts and hungry fans of Indian food.
Gravenstein. Coe’s Golden Drop. Mendocino Cox. The names sound like something from the imagination of Tolkien or perhaps the ingredients in a dubious magical potion rather than what they are—varieties of apples. But as befits their enchanting names, apples have transfixed and beguiled humans for thousands of years. Apple: A Global History explores the cultural and culinary importance of a fruit born in the mountains of Kazakhstan that has since traversed the globe to become a favorite almost everywhere. From the Garden of Eden and Homer’s Odyssey to Johnny Appleseed, William Tell, and even Apple Computer, Erika Janik shows how apples have become a universal source of sustenance, health, and symbolism from ancient times to the present day. Featuring many mouthwatering illustrations, this exploration of the planet’s most popular fruit includes a guide to selecting the best apples, in addition to apple recipes from around the world, including what is believed to be the first recorded apple recipe from Roman gourmand Marcus Apicius. And Janik doesn’t let us forget that apples are not just good eating; their juice also makes for good drinking—as the history of cider in North America and Europe attests. Janik grew up surrounded by apple iconography in Washington, the “apple state,” so there is no better author to tell this fascinating story. Readers will eat up this surprising and entertaining tale of a fruit intricately linked to human history.
A lighthearted chronicle of how foods have transformed human culture throughout the ages traces the barley- and wheat-driven early civilizations of the near East through the corn and potato industries in America.
It is difficult to think of a food more basic, more essential, and more universal than bread. Common to the diets of both the rich and the poor, bread is one of our oldest foods. Loaves and rolls have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and wheat has been found in pits where human settlements flourished 8,000 years ago. Many anthropologists argue that the ability to sow and reap cereals, the grains necessary for making bread, could be one of the main reasons why man settled in communities, and even today the concept of “breaking bread together” is a lasting symbol of the uniting power of a meal. Bread is an innovative mix of traditional history, cultural history, travelogue, and cookbook. William Rubel begins with the amazing invention of bread approximately 20,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent and ends by speculating on the ways in which cultural forces and advances in biotechnology may influence the development of bread in the twenty-first century. Rubel shows how simple choices, may be responsible for the widespread preference for wheat over other bread grains and for the millennia-old association of elite dining with white bread. He even provides an analysis of the different components of bread, such as crust and crumb, so that readers may better understand the breads they buy. With many recipes integrated with the text and a glossary covering one hundred breads, Bread goes well beyond the simple choice of white or wheat. Here, general readers will find an approachable introduction to the history of bread and to the many forms that bread takes throughout the world, and bread bakers will discover a history of the craft and new ways of thinking that will inspire experimentation.
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