RSS Feed

Category Archives: Cuisine of the Past

Hawaii, ca. 1924

Posted on

By clicking on the image below, you can watch a ~9-minute video of a series of short video clips from the 1920’s of Hawaii, interspersed with silent-film era title cards.  Not only is it an interesting time-capsule glimpse of a simpler time on the islands, but it’s also an insight into what the rest of America knew about the islands, the foods and customs.  Back before you could find certain fruits and vegetables in the grocery stores year round, many people didn’t know what some were, such as papaya.  My Swiss mother-in-law remembers when bananas came to Switzerland, and were exotic and expensive; in her house they were only bought for her brother, who was very sick at the time, as a source of energy; that was during World War 2.  Once, she confessed stealing a bit of money from her brother’s piggy bank to buy herself a banana.

Back then the world in general also knew very little about strange customs such as “surf riding” (surfing), and the footage of surfers is utterly tame compared to the monster wave-riding considered “for surfers” today!  Volcanic activity also seems to have been a fascination; such footage may well have been the first time anyone had seen such a thing outside of volcanic regions; it still had to be described in colours, however, such as “cherry red” for the lava, as the footage was, obviously, black and white.

The image below is of King’s Mansion, in Kealakekua, Hawaii, on the Big Island.  I actually lived here in 1986, as a student (my dorm window was the left bay window at the front).  The mansion originally belonged to Kamehameha dynasty; thus the name.  We had avocado trees in the back garden, and our neighbour’s horses, across a stone wall, would come trotting to the wall when they saw us in the garden, hoping for an avocado; we’d feed them, entertained as they carefully chewed away the flesh around the pit (reminding me of an old man chewing tobacco!), and then skillfully spit the seed aside.  In the bottom of our front garden stood a huge banyan tree [if you were standing on the covered lanai (porch) at the front of the house, it would be to your left]; it was a favourite tree to climb.

King's Mansion

Vintage Ad: Kellogg’s Pep

Posted on

Introduced in 1923, Kellogg’s Pep cereal was one of the first products to be infused with vitamin additives, beginning in the 1930’s.  It was a strong point of their advertising campaign, along with the “mildly laxative” effects, and the product was a sponsor of the long-running radio serial “the Adventures of Superman” (1940-1951). Despite its purported health advantages, public tastes changed, and by the late 1970’s the product was discontinued.

9

Flashback: 1947

Posted on

This amazing cake is Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding cake, 1947.  Can you imagine the anxiety the royal bakers must have felt any time anyone came near the cake?  If that was toppled just before the ceremony, it probably would have taken a week to replace it…

Queen Elizabeth's Wedding Cake, 1947

Vintage Political Incorrectness: Cola

Posted on

weird funny marketing ad failsThe fine print reads:  “How soon is too soon?  Not soon enough.  Laboratory tests over the last few years have proven that babies who start drinking soda during the early formative period have a much higher chance of gaining acceptance and “fitting in” during those awkward pre-teen and teen years.  So, do yourself a favor.  Do your child a favor.  Start them on a strict regime of sodas and other sugary carbonated beverages right now, for a lifetime of guaranteed happiness.”

  • Promotes Active Lifestyle!
  • Boosts Personality!
  • Gives Body Essential Sugars!

There are just so many things wrong with this ad; from today’s perspective, each and every claim this ad makes is bogus at best, misleading or damaging at worst. I wonder how they proved with laboratory tests that teens fit in better after drinking sugary drinks?  And how much damage did they do to the nation’s overall health when mothers began putting their pre-teething babies on a strict regime of sugary, carbonated chemical bombs?

We’ve come a long way, baby!

 

Lost in Translation: Lard Vintage Ads

Posted on

I’m sure there is a logical explanation why anyone would think this slogan (“eat lard”) worth it the first time, let alone repeating… I just can’t think of one.

Lard Ad 1Lard Ad 2

For other ads lost in translation, click here.

The History of the Candy Cane

Posted on

We’ve hung candy canes on our tree this year, and some of them are green; it got me thinking about the history of candy canes, and why red is more traditional. Now I know why…

Candle & Quill

The candy cane is something most of us (at least those in western Europe and the Americas) know and associate with Christmas; but do you know how it got started?

According to folklore and Wikipedia, in Cologne, Germany, 1670, the choir master at the cathedral commissioned a confectioner to make these candies to calm the children during the Christmas pageant service. The white represents the sinless life of Jesus; the original canes were pure white, and a recipe for straight canes with coloured stripes was published in 1844.  The red stripe has come to represent the blood of Jesus shed for us (his purpose in coming in the first place – Hebrews 2:14-18), in keeping with the symbolism of the white.  The crook is to remind us of the shepherds who visited Jesus in the manger.  Only as late as 1882 the candies began to be hung on Christmas trees…

View original post 85 more words

A Grain of Mustard

Posted on

MustardYesterday my husband and I discussed mustard (as one does).  Specifically, he had been on Google Earth and mentioned that he saw rapeseed fields near Dijon; I replied that they were more likely to be mustard fields.  He was under the impression that mustard was a bush, or a tree, and we wondered if there might be varieties of the plant that ranged in size, especially if left to grow wild.  And thus, a bit of research into the mustard plant ensued (naturally).
First, a bit of history on Dijon mustard:  Originating in 1856, the first Dijon mustard was made by substituting green (unripe) grape juice for the more typical vinegar, though today that unripe grape juice is a spade called a spade, white wine.  Surprisingly, 90% of the mustard seed used in local Dijon production comes (mainly) from Canada – so those yellow flowering fields near Dijon could be rapeseed after all!

Dijon Hand-Painted JarDijon, France doesn’t just make the eponymous mustard, but has dozens of speciality mustards; when travelling through a few years ago, we picked up jars of orange mustard, fig mustard, lavender mustard and tomato mustard.  They often come in hand-painted pots, though plain glass jars are common as well.  The word mustard itself comes from Old French mostarde, which comes from Latin mustum, meaning “new wine”.  This may also be related to a Swiss-German term Most, meaning apple juice that’s nearly fermented; it’s often sold in the autumn from farmer’s shops, if they have an apple orchard from which to produce it.

Mustard seeds come in white, brown or black.  White seeds contain fewer volatile oils and so are milder than brown or black.  Years ago I consulted a doctor for remedies I could recommend to singing students who often struggle with sore throat issues; she told me to have them put 1 teaspoon of dark mustard seeds into a hot foot bath and soak the feet for 10-15 minutes; the mustard oils draw out the infection.

Mustard, as a condiment, was likely first made in Rome, appearing in cookbooks as far back as the 4th or 5th centuries.  They probably exported the seeds to France (Gaul), and by the 10th century monks were experimenting with recipes.  Grey-Poupon was established in 1777 between the partners Maurice Grey and Auguste Poupon.

So were those French fields rapeseed or mustard?  Well, actually, both:  Rapeseed is a bright-yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family).  While both rapeseed and mustard are harvested for their oils, they are as similar as mustard is to cabbage; rapeseed oil is the third-largest source of vegetable oil in the world, while mustard seeds are usually prepared as mustard condiment (though mustard oil is also popular in cuisines such as Indian).

Now we know..!

%d bloggers like this: