One of America’s Favorites – the Salad

September 10, 2012 at 9:23 AM | Posted in cooking, Food, salad | 3 Comments
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Salads are a category of dishes whose prototype is raw vegetables served with a sauce or dressing including oil and an acid as a light savory dish with a minimum of three ingredients. Salads also include a variety of related dishes, including ones with cold cooked vegetables, including grains and pasta; ones which add cold meat or seafood; sweet dishes made of cut-up fruit; and even warm dishes. Though the prototypical salad is light, a dinner salad can constitute a complete meal.

Green salads include leaf lettuce and leafy vegetables with a sauce or dressing. Most salads are served cold, although some, such as south German potato salad, are served warm.

Salads are generally served with a dressing, as well as various garnishes such as nuts or croutons, and sometimes with the addition of meat, fish, pasta, cheese, eggs, or whole grains.

Salads may be served at any point during a meal, such as:

Appetizer salads, light salads to stimulate the appetite as the first course of the meal.
Side salads, to accompany the main course as a side dish.
Main course salads, usually containing a portion of protein, such as chicken breast or slices of beef.
Palate-cleansing salads, to settle the stomach after the main course.
Dessert salads, sweet versions usually containing fruit, gelatin or whipped cream.

The word “salad” comes from the French salade of the same meaning, from the Latin salata (salty), from sal (salt). In English, the word first appears as “salad” or “sallet” in the 14th century.

Salt is associated with salad because vegetables were seasoned with brine or salty oil-and-vinegar dressings during Roman times.

The terminology “salad days”, meaning a “time of youthful inexperience” (on notion of “green”), is first recorded by Shakespeare in 1606, while the use of salad bar first appeared in American English in 1976.

The term “salad” is commonly mistaken as the term for prepared lettuce.

Food historians say the Romans and ancient Greeks ate mixed greens and dressing. In his 1699 book, Acetaria: A Discourse on Sallets, John Evelyn attempted with little success to encourage his fellow Britons to eat fresh salad greens. Royalty dabbled in salads: Mary, Queen of Scots, ate boiled celery root over salad covered with creamy mustard dressing, truffles, chervil, and slices of hard-boiled eggs.

The United Statespopularized salads in the late 19th century and other regions of the world adopted them throughout the second half of the 20th century. From Europe and the Americas to China, Japan, and Australia, premade salads are sold in supermarkets, at

American-style potato salad with egg and mayonnaise

restaurants (restaurants will often have a “Salad Bar” laid out with salad-making ingredients, which the customers will use to put together their salad) and at fast food chains. In the US market, fast food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC, that typically sold hamburgers, fries, and fried chicken, now also sell packaged salads to appeal to the health-conscious customers.

Types of salads

Green Salad

The “green salad” or “garden salad” is most often composed of leafy vegetables such as lettuce varieties, spinach, or rocket (arugula). Due to their low caloric density, green salads are a common diet food. The salad leaves may be cut or torn into bite-sized fragments and tossed together (called a tossed salad), or may be placed in a predetermined arrangement (a composed salad).

Vegetable salad

Vegetables other than greens may be used in a salad. Common raw vegetables used in a salad include cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, spring onions, red onions, carrots, celery, and radishes. Other ingredients, such as avocado, olives, hard boiled egg, artichoke hearts, heart of palm, roasted red bell peppers, green beans, croutons, cheeses, meat (e.g. bacon, chicken), or seafood (e.g. tuna, shrimp), are sometimes added to salads.

Bound salad

A “bound” salad can be composed (arranged) or tossed (put in a bowl and mixed with a thick dressing). They are assembled with thick sauces such as mayonnaise. One portion of a true bound salad will hold its shape when placed on a plate with an ice-cream scoop. Examples of bound salad include tuna salad, pasta salad, chicken salad, egg salad, and potato salad.

Bound salads are often used as sandwich fillings. They are also popular at picnics and barbecues, because they can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

Main course salads

Main course salads (also known as “dinner salads” and commonly known as “entrée salads” in North America) may contain grilled or fried chicken pieces, seafood such as grilled or fried shrimp or a fish steak such as tuna, mahi-mahi, or salmon. Sliced steak, such as sirloin or skirt, can be placed upon the salad. Caesar salad, Chef salad, Cobb salad, Greek salad, and Michigan salad are types of dinner salad.

Fruit salads

Fruit salads are made of fruit, and include the fruit cocktail that can be made fresh or from canned fruit.

Dessert salads

Dessert salads rarely include leafy greens and are often sweet. Common variants are made with gelatin or whipped cream; e.g. jello salad, pistachio salad, and ambrosia. Other forms of dessert salads include snickers salad, glorified rice, and cookie salad popular in parts of the Midwestern United States.

Dressings

Sauces for salads are often called “dressings”. The concept of salad dressing varies across cultures.

In Western culture, there are three basic types of salad dressing:

Vinaigrette
Creamy dressings, usually mayonnaise-based, but which may also contain yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, milk, or crème fraiche
Cooked dressings, which resemble creamy dressings, but are usually thickened by adding egg yolks and gently heating.

Vinaigrette /vɪnəˈɡrɛt/ is a mixture (emulsion) of salad oil and vinegar, often flavored with herbs, spices, salt, pepper, sugar, and other ingredients. It is used most commonly as a salad dressing, but also as a sauce or marinade.

In North America, mayonnaise-based Ranch dressing is most popular, with vinaigrettes and Caesar-style dressing following close behind. Traditional dressings in France are vinaigrettes, typically mustard-based, while mayonnaise is predominant in eastern European countries and Russia. In Denmark, dressings are often based on crème fraîche. In southern Europe, salad is generally dressed by the diner with oil and vinegar.

In Asia, it is common to add sesame oil, fish sauce, citrus juice, or soy sauce to salad dressings.

One of America’s Favorites – Sausage

June 4, 2012 at 9:16 AM | Posted in Food | 1 Comment
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A sausage is a food usually made from ground meat (normally pork or beef), mixed with salt, herbs, and other spices with a tough skin

Kiełbasa Biała (white sausage), Szynkowa (smoked), Śląska, and Podhalańska styles (Poland)

around it, although vegetarian sausages are available. The word sausage is derived from Old French saussiche, from the Latin word salsus, meaning salted.

Typically, a sausage is formed in a casing traditionally made from intestine, but sometimes synthetic. Some sausages are cooked during processing and the casing may be removed after.

Sausage making is a traditional food preservation technique. Sausages may be preserved by curing, drying, or smoking.

Sausage is a logical outcome of efficient butchery. Traditionally, sausage makers put tissues and organs which are edible and nutritious, but not particularly appealing[citation needed] – such as scraps, organ meats, blood, and fat – in a form that allows for preservation: typically, salted and stuffed into a tubular casing made from the cleaned intestine of the animal, producing the characteristic cylindrical shape. Hence, sausages, puddings, and salami are among the oldest of prepared foods, whether cooked and eaten immediately or dried to varying degrees.

Early humans made the first sausages by stuffing roasted intestines into stomachs. The Greek poet Homer mentioned a kind of blood sausage in the Odyssey, Epicharmus wrote a comedy titled The Sausage, and Aristophanes’ play The Knights is about a sausage-vendor who is elected leader. Evidence suggests that sausages were already popular both among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and most likely with the illiterate tribes occupying the larger part of Europe.

The most famous sausage in ancient Italy was from Lucania (modern Basilicata) and was called lucanica, a name which lives on in a variety of modern sausages in the Mediterranean. During the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, sausages were associated with the Lupercalia festival. Early in the 10th century during the Byzantine Empire, Leo VI the Wise outlawed the production of blood sausages following cases of food poisoning.

Traditionally, sausage casings were made of the cleaned intestines, or stomachs in the case of haggis and other traditional puddings.

German Wurst: liver sausage, blood sausage, and ham sausage

Today, however, natural casings are often replaced by collagen, cellulose, or even plastic casings, especially in the case of industrially manufactured sausages. Some forms of sausage, such as sliced sausage, are prepared without a casing. Additionally, luncheon meat and sausage meat are now available without casings in tin cans and jars.

The most basic sausage consists of meat, cut into pieces or ground, and filled into a casing. The meat may be from any animal, but traditionally is pork, beef, or veal. The meat to fat ratio is dependent upon the style and producer, but in the United States, fat content is legally limited to a maximum of 30%, 35% or 50%, by weight, depending on the style. The United States Department of Agriculture defines the content for various sausages and generally prohibits fillers and extenders. Most traditional styles of sausage from Europe and Asia use no bread-based filler and are 100% meat and fat excluding flavorings. In the UK and other countries with English cuisine traditions, bread and starch-based fillers account for up to 25% of ingredients. The filler used in many sausages helps them to keep their shape as they are cooked. As the meat contracts in the heat, the filler expands and absorbs the moisture lost from the meat.

Classifications of sausage

Sausages classification is subject to regional differences of opinion. Various metrics such as types of ingredients, consistency, and preparation are used. In the English-speaking world, the following distinction between fresh, cooked, and dry sausages seems to be more or less accepted:

*Cooked sausages are made with fresh meats, and then fully cooked. They are either eaten immediately after cooking or must be refrigerated. Examples include hot dogs, Braunschweiger, and liver sausage.
*Cooked smoked sausages are cooked and then smoked or smoke-cooked. They are eaten hot or cold, but need to be refrigerated. Examples include kielbasa and mortadella. Some are slow cooked while smoking, in which case the process takes several days or longer, such as the case for Gyulai kolbász.
*Fresh sausages are made from meats that have not been previously cured. They must be refrigerated and thoroughly cooked before eating. Examples include Boerewors, Italian pork sausage, siskonmakkara, and breakfast sausage.
*Fresh smoked sausages are fresh sausages that are smoked and cured. They do not normally require refrigeration and do not require any further cooking before eating. Examples include Mettwurst and Teewurst.
*Dry sausages are cured sausages that are fermented and dried. They are generally eaten cold and will keep for a long time. Examples include salami, Droë wors, Finnish meetvursti, Sucuk, Landjäger, and summer sausage.
*Bulk sausage, or sometimes sausage meat, refers to raw, ground, spiced meat, usually sold without any casing.
*Vegetarian sausage refers to sausages made without meat, for example, with soya protein or with tofu or with herbs and spices. Vegetarian sausages are frequently sold in supermarkets, although it should be said that many vegetarian sausages sold in supermarkets may be vegetarian but are not vegan, for they may contain ingredients such as eggs.

The distinct flavor of some sausages is due to fermentation by Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, or Micrococcus (added as starter cultures) or natural flora during curing.

Other countries, however, use different systems of classification. Germany, for instance, which boasts more than 1200 types of sausage, distinguishes raw, cooked and precooked sausages.

*Raw sausages are made with raw meat and are not cooked. They are preserved by lactic acid fermentation, and they may be dried,

Sausages from Réunion

brined or smoked. Most raw sausages will keep for a long time. Examples include Mettwurst and salami.
*Cooked sausages may include water and emulsifiers and are always cooked. They will not keep long. Examples include cervelat, Jagdwurst, and Weißwurst.
*Precooked sausages (Kochwurst) are made with cooked meat but may also include raw organ meat. They may be heated after casing, and they will keep only for a few days. Examples include Saumagen and Blutwurst.

In Italy, the basic distinctions are:

*Raw sausage (salsiccia) with a thin casing
*Cured and aged sausage (salsiccia stagionata or salsiccia secca)
*Cooked sausage (wuerstel)
Blood sausage (sanguinaccio or boudin)
*Liver sausage (salsiccia di fegato)
*Salami (in Italy, salami is the plural of salame, a big, cured, fermented and air-dried sausage)
*Cheese sausage (casalsiccia) with cheese inside

The United States has a particular type called pickled sausages, commonly found in gas stations and small roadside delicatessens. These are usually smoked or boiled sausages of a highly processed hot dog or kielbasa style plunged into a boiling brine of vinegar, salt, spices, and often a pink coloring, then canned in Mason jars. They are available in single blister packs or sold out of a jar. They are shelf stable, and they are a frequently offered alternative to beef jerky, Slim Jims, and other kippered snacks.

The most common Mexican sausage by far is chorizo. It is fresh and usually deep red in color (in most of the rest of Latin America, chorizo is uncolored and coarsely chopped). Some chorizo is so loose that it spills out of its casing as soon as it is cut; this crumbled chorizo is a popular filling for torta sandwiches, eggs, breakfast burritos and tacos. Salchichas, longaniza (a long, thin, coarse chopped pork sausage) and head cheese are also widely consumed.

North American breakfast or country sausage is made from uncooked ground pork mixed with pepper, sage, and other spices. It is widely sold in grocery stores in a large synthetic plastic casing, or in links which may have a protein casing. It is also available sold by the pound without a casing. It can often be found on a smaller scale in rural regions, especially in southern states, where it is either fresh patties or in links with either natural or synthetic casings as well as smoked. This sausage is most similar to English style sausages and has been made in the United States since colonial days. It is commonly sliced into small patties and pan-fried, or cooked and crumbled into scrambled eggs or gravy. Scrapple is a pork-based breakfast meat that originated in the Mid-Atlantic States. Other uncooked sausages are available in certain regions in link form, including Italian, bratwurst, chorizo, and linguica.

In Louisiana, there is a variety of sausage that is unique to its heritage, a variant of andouille. Unlike the original variety native to

Frankfurter sausage.

Northern France, Louisiana andouille has evolved to be made mainly of pork butt, not tripe, and tends to be spicy with a flavor far too strong for the mustard sauce that traditionally accompanies French andouille: prior to casing, the meat is heavily spiced with cayenne and black pepper. The variety from Louisiana is known as Tasso ham and is often a staple of both Cajun and Creole cooking. Traditionally it is smoked over pecan wood or sugar cane as a final step before being ready to eat. In Cajun cuisine boudin is also popular.

The frankfurter or hot dog is the most common pre-cooked sausage in the United States and Canada. If proper terminology is observed in manufacture and marketing (it often is not), “frankfurters” are more mildly seasoned, “hot dogs” more robustly so. Another popular variation is the corn dog, which is a hot dog that is deep fried in cornmeal batter and served on a stick.

A common and very popular regional sausage in the Trenton, NJ and Philadelphia, PA areas is pork roll.

Other popular ready-to-eat sausages, often eaten in sandwiches, include salami, American-style bologna, Lebanon bologna, prasky, liverwurst, and head cheese. Pepperoni and Italian crumbles are popular pizza toppings.

Sausages may be served as hors d’œuvres, in a sandwich, in a bread roll as a hot dog, wrapped in a tortilla, or as an ingredient in dishes such as stews and casseroles. It can be served on a stick (like the corn dog) or on a bone as well. Sausage without casing is called “sausage meat” and can be fried or used as stuffing for poultry, or for wrapping foods like Scotch eggs. Similarly, sausage meat encased in puff pastry is called a sausage roll.

Sausages are almost always fried in oil, served for any meal, particularly breakfast or lunch and often “sweet sausages” have been created which are made with any of the above: dried fruit, nuts, caramel and chocolate, bound with butter and sugar. These sweet sausages are refrigerated rather than fried and usually, however, served for dessert rather than as part of a savory course.

Sausages can also be modified to use indigenous ingredients. Mexican styles add oregano and the “guajillo” red pepper to the Spanish chorizo to give it an even hotter spicy touch.

Certain sausages also contain ingredients such as cheese and apple, or types of vegetable.

Vegetarian and vegan sausages are also available in some countries, or can be made from scratch. These may be made from tofu, seitan, nuts, pulses, mycoprotein, soya protein, vegetables or any combination of similar ingredients that will hold together during cooking. These sausages, like most meat-replacement products, generally fall into two camps: some are shaped, colored, flavored, etc. to replicate the taste and texture of meat as accurately as possible; others such as the Glamorgan sausage rely on spices and vegetables to lend their natural flavor to the product and no attempt is made to imitate meat.

The soya sausage was invented 1916 in Germany. First known as “Kölner Wurst” (= Cologne Sausage) by later German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967).

One of America’s Favorite – Pie

April 23, 2012 at 8:23 AM | Posted in baking, dessert, Food | Leave a comment
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A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or

A slice of an apple pie

savoury ingredients.

Pies are defined by their crusts. A filled pie (also single-crust or bottom-crust), has pastry lining the baking dish, and the filling is placed on top of the pastry, but left open. A top-crust pie, which may also be called a cobbler, has the filling in the bottom of the dish and the filling covered with a pastry or other covering before baking. A two-crust pie has the filling completely enclosed in the pastry shell. Flaky pastry is a typical kind of pastry used for pie crusts, but many things can be used, including baking powder biscuits, mashed potatoes, and crumbs.

Pies can be a variety of sizes, ranging from bite-size to ones designed for multiple servings.

The need for nutritious, easy-to-store, easy-to-carry, and long-lasting foods on long journeys, in particular at sea, was initially solved by taking live food along with a butcher or cook. However, this took up additional space on what were either horse-powered treks or small ships, reducing the time of travel before additional food was required. This resulted in early armies adopting the style of hunter-foraging.

The introduction of the baking of processed cereals including the creation of flour, provided a more reliable source of food. Egyptian sailors carried a flat brittle bread loaf of millet bread called dhourra cake, while the Romans had a biscuit called buccellum.

The first pies appeared around 9500 BC, in the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age, when the use of stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding became common, the domestication of plants and animals, the establishment of permanent villages, and the practice of crafts such as pottery and weaving. Early pies were in the form of galettes wrapping honey as a treat inside a cover of ground oats, wheat, rye or barley. These galettes developed into a form of early sweet pastry or desserts, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, who ruled from 1304 to 1237 BC, located in the Valley of the Kings. Sometime before 2000 BC, a recipe for chicken pie was written on a tablet in Sumer.

With the knowledge transferred to the Ancient Greeks, historians believe that the Greeks originated pie pastry. Then a flour-water paste (add fat, and it becomes pastry), wrapped around meat, served to: cook the meat; seal in the juices; and provide a lightweight sealed holder for long sea journeys. This transferred the knowledge to the Romans who, having conquered parts of Northern Europe and southern Spain were far more adept at using salt and spices to preserve and flavour their meat.

The 1st century Roman cookbook Apicius make various mention of various recipes which involve a pie case. By 160 BC, Roman statesman Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 BC) who wrote De Agri Cultura, notes the recipe for the most popular pie/cake called Placenta. Also called libum by the Romans, it was more like a modern day cheesecake on a pastry base, often used as an offering to the gods. With the development of the Roman Empire and its efficient road transport, pie cooking spread throughout Europe.

Pies remained as a core staple of diet of traveling and working peoples in the colder northern European countries, with regional variations based on both the locally grown and available meats, as well as the locally farmed cereal crop. The Cornish pasty is an excellent adaptation of the pie to a working man’s daily food needs.

Medieval cooks were often restricted in cooking forms they were able to use, having restricted access to ovens due to their costs of construction and need for abundant supplies of fuel. Pies could be easily cooked over an open fire, while partnering with a baker allowed them to cook the filling inside their own locally defined casing. The earliest pie-like recipes refer to coffyns (the word actually used for a basket or box), with straight sealed sides and a top; open top pies were referred to as traps. This may also be the reason why early recipes focus on the filling over the surrounding case, with the partnership development leading to the use of reusable earthenware pie cases which reduced the use of expensive flour.

The first reference to “pyes” as food items appeared in England (in a Latin context) as early as the 12th century, but no unequivocal reference to the item with which the article is concerned is attested until the 14th century (Oxford English Dictionary sb pie).

A slice of pecan pie

Song birds at the time were a fine delicacy, and protected by Royal Law. At the coronation of eight-year old English King Henry VI (1422–1461) in 1429, “Partryche and Pecock enhackyll” pie was served, consisting of cooked peacock mounted in its skin on a peacock filled pie. Cooked birds were frequently placed by European royal cooks on top of a large pie to identify its contents, leading to its later adaptation in pre-Victorian times as a porcelain ornament to release of steam and identify a good pie.

The Pilgrim fathers and early settlers brought their pie recipes with them to America, adapting to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. Their first pies were based on berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native North Americans. Pies allowed colonial cooks to stretch ingredients and also used round shallow pans to literally “cut corners,” and create a regional variation of shallow pie.

Meat pies with fillings such as steak, cheese, steak and kidney, minced beef, or chicken and mushroom are popular in the United

Homemade meat pie with beef and vegetables.

Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand as take-away snacks. They are also served with chips as an alternative to fish and chips at British chip shops.

Pot pies with a flaky crust and bottom are also a popular American dish, typically with a filling of meat (particularly beef, chicken or turkey), gravy, and mixed vegetables (potatoes, carrots and peas). Frozen pot pies are often sold in individual serving size.

Fruit pies may be served with a scoop of ice cream, a style known in North America as pie à la mode. Many sweet pies are served this way. Apple pie is a traditional choice, though any pie with sweet fillings may be served à la mode. This combination, and possibly the name as well, is thought to have been popularized in the mid-1890s in the United States.

Coconut Custard Pie (Diabetic Friendly)

Serves: 8

Ingredients

Pastry for single-crust 9 inch pie
4 eggs
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup Equal® Spoonful or Granulated*
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup toasted flaked coconut
1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)

* May substitute 24 packets Equal sweetener

Directions

Roll pastry on floured surface into circle 1 inch larger than inverted 9-inch pie plate. Ease pastry into plate; trim and flute edge. Set aside.
Beat eggs in large bowl about 5 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Whisk in milk and remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into pastry shell.
Bake pie in preheated 375F oven 30 to 35 minutes or until sharp knife inserted halfway between center and edge of pie comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)
Calories:    194
Protein:    6 g
Sodium:     301 mg
Cholesterol:    115 mg
Fat:     11 g
Carbohydrates:     19 g
Exchanges:     1/2 milk, 1/2 starch, 2 fat

http://www.diabeticgourmet.com/recipes/html/987.shtml

National Dish of the Week – Spain

September 21, 2011 at 4:57 PM | Posted in baking, Food | 2 Comments
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Spanish cuisine consists of a variety of dishes, which stem from differences in geography, culture and climate. It is heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters that surround the country, and reflects the country’s deep maritime roots. Spain‘s

A large Valencian paella

extensive history with many cultural influences has led to an array of unique cuisines with literally thousands of recipes and flavors. It is also renowned for its health benefits and fresh ingredients, as Mediterranean diet.

The first introduction of a product to ancient Iberia was that of wheat. Wheat was thought to be brought by Iberians from the south of the peninsula. It was perhaps brought from Aquitaine in the north of the peninsula, due to the difficulty of transporting from the south. In time, the wheat of Iberia came to be considered to be the best in the Roman Empire, and became one of the main commodities of foreign trade. The Romans’ early approval of the wheat led to the spread of wheat from Spain to Greece and Egypt and easterly parts of Russia.

There were two major kinds of diet in the peninsula. One was found in the northwest part of the peninsula, with more animal fats that correspond to the husbandry of the north. The other could be considered the precursor of the Mediterranean diet and was found in the southerly parts of the peninsula.

As early as Roman times, with the exception of products later imported from the Americas, many modern foods were consumed, although mostly by the aristocracy, not the middle class. Cooking references from that era discuss the eating habits in Rome, where foods from all of the Empire’s provinces were brought. Thousands of amphorae of olive oil were sent to Rome from Spain.[citation needed] Nonetheless, and especially in the Celtic areas, consumption of animal products (from lamb, beef, etc.) was more common than consumption of vegetables.

Already in that era, cabbage was well known and appreciated, and considered a panacea for various aliments. Other popular vegetables of that time were thistles (such as artichokes) and onions.

In Roman Spain the hams of Pomeipolis (Pamplona) had great prestige. The export of pork products became the basis of a strong local economy.

It is almost certain that lentils were already consumed in Roman Spain, because they formed a staple food for the army and because they are easy to preserve and transport. Fava beans were known from antiquity and were considered sacred by the Romans. In the Saturnalia, the later December festival in honor of Saturn, fava beans were used to choose the king of the festival. This custom is believed to be the source of the present day custom of hiding an object in the roscón de reyes (similar to the sixpence traditional in a Christmas pudding); until quite recently, that object was a fava bean. Garbanzoswere also popular, primarily among the poorer

classes.

Mushrooms were common and popular in the northern part of the country.

They mastered the science of grafting. According to Pliny, Tibur saw a tree that produced a distinct fruit on each of its branches: nuts, apples, pomegranates, cherries, pears, but he added that they dried out quickly.

Viticulture already was known and practiced by the Romans, but it seemed as well the fact that it was the Greeks who extended the vine across the Mediterranean region. This includes those wines that were most popular in the Empire.

In this era the wealthy typically ate while lying on a couch (a custom acquired from the Greeks) and using their hands, because forks were not used for eating. Tablecloths were introduced in the 1st century. They came to use two plates, one flat (platina or patella) and the other deep (catinus), which they held with the left hand. That hand could not be used for many other things while eating, given that they ate with their left arms while reclining in bed, so that only the right hand was free. They used spoons, which, like today, had different sizes, depending on what they were used for. The first spoons were made from clam shells (hence, the name cuchara), with silver handles.

The mode of flavoring and cooking was quite distinct from what is found in modern times.

"Bellota Oro", was elected as "Best ham in the world"

Among the multitude of recipes that make up the varied cuisines of Spain, a few can be considered common to all or almost all of Spain’s regions, even though some of them have an origin known and associated with specific places. Examples include most importantly potato omelette (“tortilla de patata”, “tortilla española” or just “tortilla”), paella, various stews, migas, sausages (such as embutidos, chorizo, and morcilla), jamón serrano, and cheeses.

There are also many dishes based on beans (chickpeas, lentils, green beans); soups, with many regional variations; and bread, that has numerous forms, with distinct varieties in each region. The regional variations are less pronounced in Spanish desserts and cakes: flan, custard, rice pudding (arroz con leche), torrijas, churros, and madeleines are some of the most representative examples.

The most famous regional dish is Fabada Asturiana, a rich stew made with large white beans (fabes), pork shoulder (lacón), morcilla, chorizo, and saffron (azafrán).

Apple groves foster the production of the traditional alcoholic drink, a natural cider (sidra). It is a very dry cider, and unlike French or English natural ciders, uses predominantly acidic apples, rather than sweet or bittersweet. The proportions are: acidic 40%, sub-acidic 30-25%, sweet 10-15%, bittersweet 15-20%, bitter 5%.[1]

Sidra is traditionally poured in by an expert server (or escanciador): the bottle is raised high above his or her head to oxygenate the brew as it moves into the glass below. A small amount (~120ml) is poured at a time (called a culín), as it must be drunk immediately before the sidra loses its carbonation. Any sidra left in the glass is poured onto a woodchip-strewn floor or a trough along the bottom of the bar.

Asturian cheeses, especially Cabrales, are also famous throughout Spain and beyond; Cabrales is known for its pungent odour and

Gastronomía manchega

strong flavour. Asturias is often called “the land of cheeses” (el pais de los quesos) due to the product’s diversity and quality in this region.Other major dishes include faba beans with clams, Asturian stew, frixuelos, and rice pudding.

Today, Spanish cooking is “in fashion”, especially thanks in part to Ferran Adrià, who in the summer of 2003 attained international renown thanks to praise in the Sunday supplement of The New York Times. His restaurant El Bulli is located in the province of Girona, near Roses. In a long article, the New York Times declared him the best chef in the world, and postulated the supremacy of Spanish cooking over French cuisine.

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