What is a Water Chestnut Anyways?

My wife and I recently got some Chinese takeout from one of our favorite local places (mostly because they’re the only one that delivers), and my wife, hating water chestnuts, was complaining about them in her dish.  This got me wondering what exactly is a water chestnut? There actually happen to be a number of different…

A Baker’s Dozen

We all (I hope) know that a dozen means twelve of something, so why do bakers use the number 13 when referring to a dozen?  The baker’s dozen dates back to ancient times and laws. Way back in history people were afraid that the baker might cheat them, by giving them a “light loaf” or…

The Tea Bag

As like so many other culinary inventions, the tea bag was created by accident, but we’ll get back to that in a little bit.  First, let’s talk briefly about tea. The Chinese have consumed tea for thousands of years.  They are considered to have the earliest records of tea consumption,  with possible records dating back to the…

Olive Oil Fraud

So you just shelled out $40 for that authentic Mediterranean cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, but what did you really just buy?  Olive oil fraud goes back to ancient days.  In fact, we know it was so rampant in ancient days from cuneiform tablets discovered at Ebla, that the Sumerians had a royally appointed olive…

Champagne

In keeping with my pre-birthday theme, today I thought we’d discuss a little bit about the history of Champagne and how it became the traditional celebratory beverage. Now there are sparkling wines made all around the world today but to be called Champagne it must be made in a particular region of France and produced…

Birthday Cakes

As I quickly approach my 30th birthday, I got to wondering what the origins of the birthday cake were. Birthday cakes have been a part of birthday celebrations in Western European countries since the middle of the 19th century and over time spread to the Americas.  However, the link between cakes and birthday celebrations dates…

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar was virtually unheard of in the US until the 1970s, even though its roots go back to ancient times.  Even as early as 1046, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III was given a silver bottle containing this celebrated vinegar while passing through a town on his way to his coronation. The record of…

Pasta

Pasta, noodles, or dumplings are found throughout the world.  Every culture seems to have their own unique take on this simple flour and water mixture.  Sometimes eggs are added, but what pasta, or whatever you want to call it, comes down to is two simple things, flour and liquid. We probably all know the story…

Honey

Is that honey in your honey bear actually honey?  Well, yes and no.  According to the US Food and Drug Administration, honey that has been ultra-filtered and no longer contains any pollen isn’t honey.  Unfortunately, however, the FDA isn’t exactly checking to make sure what you get labeled as honey actually meets this standard. Let’s…

Artificial Vanilla Flavoring

There are now many ways to create a vanilla extract replacement.  This post. however, is going to talk about one of the more disturbing. To begin with, the amount of vanilla flavoring used in foods today far outstrips the amount of actual  vanilla beans that can be grown, so an alternative to vanilla beans had…

Orange Juice And Why You Should Squeeze it Yourself

Orange juice is the juice that, I think, comes to most of our minds when we contemplate breakfast.  There are so many different options when it comes to this drink at the grocery store: Organic, All Natural, No Artificial Ingredients, 100% Juice, From Concentrate, Not From Concentrate, Low Acid, High Pulp, Low Pulp, No Pulp. …

Carrots

Ever wonder why carrots are orange?  Probably not, but we shall get to that later.  The carrot, even though it might seem like a dull topic has a very long ancient history and was grown in many of the famous gardens of antiquity. Wild carrots, which can still be found throughout much of Western Asia…