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101

I'm going to agree with Szczerzo about this being an anthropologic question, but I'm going to disagree about the cause. While nomadic lifestyles was an influence, it's not causative. I'm also going to ignore the distinction made about raising agents in the OP, because it's factually incorrect; most Arab/Levantine/Turkish/Kurdish breads use yeast. Instead, ...


83

A complete answer to this question would require writing a primer on the history of food preservation and transport. I'm not going to write one. Instead, I'll focus on the most common methods of personal food transportation -- (that is, snacks, meals, and travel food) in the middle ages. Transporting foods across the village would have been a daily or ...


71

It's not honey that's changed since ancient times, it's wine! Wine makers in ancient Rome lacked the knowledge and equipment to prevent oxidation and unwanted bacterial colonies, so their product was pretty awful by modern standards, being both sour and bitter with all sorts of off flavors. Honey and spices were added to try and make it palatable. So you ...


45

In addition of FuzzyChef's answer: Some cheaper (?) but less durable (in terms of re-using) food packaging mostly without cheating by curing: Wrapping In south-east Asia and central America even today's people use big leaves instead of aluminium foil to wrap their food1: For example, bánh chưng, a (actually very perishable) Vietnamese new year's rice cake, ...


38

The first yeast was "just there" - in the environment, everywhere. People discovered very early on that leaving the dough (or just a flour-water slurry) out would lead to it getting "sour" and "bubbly", thus leavening the bread: What we today call sourdough is in fact a mixture of yeasts and bacteria (lactobacillae). The ...


34

It's actually an anthropologic question. It's more due to Europe being settled down while Middle Eastern peoples were still nomadic. Raising bread, even with agents, is very hard when you move or don't have much time. For a raised bread you need a starter and few hours; for a flat bread you need a few minutes. Not to mention flat bread can be baked ON an ...


29

There were certainly uses for egg whites that didn't involve eating them: Clearing beer and wine (using egg white as finings). This isn't common any more, and anyway only uses one egg white to six gallons. As an adhesive in bookbinding and gilding, and as a size. In makeup: Wikipedia - ancient nail polish Royal Museums Greeenwich - as a skin treatment ...


27

Another high-volume specialist use for egg white was mortar. Specifically, it was used very frequently in the Middle Ages, in the standard lime and sand mortar: a 2017 study suggests that 6% egg albumen (I assume by weight) provides the strongest mortar. It was not the only binding agent available to construction, but at least in the Middle East and in ...


26

I'm going to supplement Cindy's answer, by addressing this part of the question: When and why did cumin get associated with tacos? According to Wikipedia, Serious Eats, and History.com, the cumin was brought by workers the Spanish imported to Texas from the Canary Islands in the 1500s, who themselves were the descendants of North Africans and hence had ...


26

Just the other day I was watching an episode of the Great British Baking Show (sorry, don't remember which one), and they mentioned that egg whites were often used to stiffen clothing, something we'd do with starch today. That left an excess of egg yolks, which was supposed to be the explanation for why so many recipes back then used egg yolks.


21

I don't know much of the science behind the super-soft bread on supermarket shelves, but I can give some insight into the history that led to it becoming so ubiquitous in the US. The idea that whiter breads are classier than darker breads goes all the way back to the 5th century BC. The belief that white bread was superior to dark bread, a common theme in ...


17

According to the History of Carrots page from the World Carrot Museum: The current yellow/orange varieties (containing carotene) through gradual selection in Europe, now form the basis of the commercial cultivars around the world, mainly through their superior taste, versatility, nutritional value and cultural acceptance. It is clear that until as ...


16

Non-preserved food in aluminium foil is gonna spoil almost the same as if you didn't put it in foil ... If you just want to keep the food clean, you can just use any kind of food safe container that fits - a corked glass or bottle, a tiffin, a leather hose, a sealed amphora, whatever. If a wrapping material is desired, paper and cloth have been there for ...


15

Hardly - pepper was exported from India before chillis were introduced. Some linguistic subgroups still use it in preference to chillis, and certain dishes use it in preference to (or in addition to) chillies. Ginger's also native (or at least an early import) to India (and while not always used in 'traditional' cooking), I do believe that garlic and ginger ...


13

Why have chopsticks been adapted as the primary utensil of choice: The answer I've been taught my whole life (and I'm Chinese) was that Confucius believed that forks and knives promoted a sort of violence when eating and that it was best to keep weapons off of the dinner table and promote a gentleness when eating. This would follow his philosophical ...


13

It's also worth mentioning that many flatbreads have a rather long storage life. For instance, the Sardinian pane carasau is split and cooked a second time so that it could be used on months long trips. It's quite possible that the different climates and jobs led to differences in bread making.


12

As per your comment, the reason is Tex-mex flavor. Most of the pre-made 'Mexican' seasonings we get in the US have cumin and probably various other spices or flavorings not associated with authentic Mexican dishes. If you look at recipes for authentic Mexican dishes, you won't typically find cumin in the ingredient list. While I like cumin in some Indian ...


10

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotisserie: Rotisserie is a style of roasting where meat is skewered on a spit – a long solid rod used to hold food while it is being cooked over a fire in a fireplace or over a campfire, or roasted in an oven. A spit is a long solid rod :) (as confirmed by http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/spit#Noun)


10

It was called garum, and indeed the ancient Romans used it, as did the ancient Greeks: Garum was prepared from the intestines of small fishes through the process of bacterial fermentation. Fishermen would lay out their catch according to the type and part of the fish, allowing makers to pick the exact ingredients they wanted. The fish parts were then ...


10

Here is a snarky but historically enlightening article on the combination from Slate magazine. 1) Salt enhances flavors that already exist in the food. Here is an article discussing the science behind the phenomenon from the ScienceFare site. 2) Pepper brightens flavor, and masks off-putting notes, such as staleness or blandness from overcooking. Black ...


9

The recipe 'thevasam' in the link is authentic ( but regional ) pre-columbian exchange cuisine, made with ingredients from species largely native to the indo-malayan ecoregion, and is pretty much reflective of Indian cuisine before the columbian exchange. I study crop dispersal, as I had an agricultural background from South India. Other heat giving ...


9

There are many mentions of carbonate of soda in the Book of Household Management, and also two mentions of bicarbonate of soda (to preserve milk, and in a recipe for light buns). It has a specific section on the carbonate: CARBONATE OF SODA — Soda was called the mineral alkali, because it was originally dug up out of the ground in Africa and other ...


9

I'm not certain of this answer, but if I had to make a bet, I think the cookie at least was popularized, if not originated completely, with Debbi Fields of Mrs. Fields' Original Cookies. Macadamia nuts appeared in pairings with (milk or dark) chocolate, usually just in chocolate-covered versions or chunks of nuts in chocolate going back to at least the ...


8

If you're thinking more in terms of storing sandwiches and other small items for short periods, aluminium foil directly replaced waxed paper and oiled parchment. For longer-term storage, barrels were used where we might buy tinned food today. A well-constructed barrel is completely air- and water-tight (otherwise they wouldn't be used for brewing). On a ...


8

In the UK you see lamb and chicken on "Indian" restaurant menus, but not beef or pork. I suspect that in the colonial era when the English wanted meat there were goats (near enough the same as sheep) and chickens because both are kept for food but not meat. So are cattle but they're special. There simply wouldn't have been a supply of pigs or the habit of ...


8

Allspice is, indeed, the only commonly used spice* native to North America. It is also very commonly used in various Arabic, Central Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. It is a standard part of the cuisine-defining North African spice mixes baharat and ras al hanout. The vast majority of global Allspice is still grown in Central America. You ask a good ...


8

Perhaps the difference is not so much between leavened and unleavened as between flat and loaf. In colder climates, there is an existing need for a persistent fire, which has been lit for heating, as well as cooking. In those cultures, ovens and baking are more likely to arise. Even the leavened breads of the Middle East and South Asia tend to be flat, and ...


8

I have no idea about historic yeast prices or measuring units, but there are typical ranges for yeast, and you are pretty flexible on the amount you use. In bakers' percentages, 2% is a standard (for traditional wet yeast). You use more for rich doughs and short rises, and less for long rises. Your recipe is quite rich and short raised, so my gut feeling ...


7

See Food Timeline, which explains that historically, the closet thing to cake was more an enriched, sweetened bread, enhanced with honey, perhaps with fruits or nuts added. They would have been closer to what we think of as fruitcake. According to them, the precursors to modern cakes came about due to more reliable ovens, and the availability of refined ...


7

Obviously, humans have eaten raw meat since we first showed up on the planet. But even after we learned how to grill our mammoth burgers, some people preferred the taste of uncooked flesh. This is especially true in Asian countries (not just fish, but beef, horse, and pork as well; collectively known as Hoe in Korea). A common practice has always been "...


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