Jonathan Green, an expert lexicographer and contributor to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, gives us the rundown of the sweet terms and phrases that have been re-imagined and incorporated into slang.Add a Comment
Jonathan Green, an expert lexicographer and contributor to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, gives us the rundown of the sweet terms and phrases that have been re-imagined and incorporated into slang.Add a Comment
In May, we celebrated the third annual workshop on food justice at Michigan State University. Few of the people who come to these student-organized events doubt that they are part of a social movement. And yet it is not clear to me that the “social movement” framing is the best way to understand food justice, or indeed many of the issues in the food system that have been raised by Mark Bittman or journalists such as Eric Schlosser, Michael Pollan or Barry Estabrook.Add a Comment
Silent-screen star ZaSu Pitts is usually remembered for her extraordinary name, her huge eyes, and her fluttering fingers, but not many know that she also put her nimble fingers to confectionery use, crafting elegant candies that were famous on Hollywood sets.Add a Comment
What do Russians poets eat? When does food heritage become international politics? How has sugar been used as medicine? Darra Goldstein, the editor-in-chief to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, shares her insights on how a three-year project transformed into the lively compendium of all things sweet. She takes us through the process of what it was like to oversee 265 contributors and over 600 entries, and the journey she took to get where she is today.Add a Comment
No matter where in the world you go, pastries are a universal treat. From Turkish baklava to Italian cannolis, French croissants to American cherry pie, these morsels of sweetness are a culinary tradition that knows no borders. Whether you're boarding an overseas flight or hanging around the neighborhood, we've hand-picked several pastry shops from the Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets to add to your personal itinerary.Add a Comment
How much do you know about all things sweet? Are you an obsessive "Top-tier Sugar Scholar"? Or are you a dabbling "Sugar Novice"? No matter your level of scholarship, if sweetness and obscure facts are your game, we have just the perfect quiz for you.Add a Comment
Hey everyone! After a long hiatus, we’re excited to announce the re-launch of The Oxford Comment, a podcast originally created by OUP’s very own Lauren Appelwick and Michelle Rafferty in September 2010. From the drinking habits of the Founding Fathers to Cab Calloway, we’ve talked to people about every hot-button issue under the sun.
In this month’s episode, Max Sinsheimer, a Trade & Reference Editor at the New York office, chats with a few contributors to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets discuss their work on the historical, chemical, technical, social, cultural, and linguistic aspects of sweetness.
Headline image credit: Cream puffs. CC0 via Pixabay.
The post The Oxford Comment – Episode 19 – Sugar and Sweets appeared first on OUPblog.
Cocoa and chocolate have a long history in Central America but a relatively short history in the rest of the world. For thousands of years tribes and empires in Central America produced cocoa and consumed drinks based on it. It was only when the Spanish arrived in those regions that the rest of the world learned about it. Initially, cocoa production stayed in the original production regions, but with the local population decimated by war and imported diseases, slave labor was imported from Africa.
The ‘First Great Chocolate Boom’ occurred at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. The industrial revolution turned chocolate from a drink to a solid food full of energy and raised incomes of the poor. As a result, chocolate consumption increased rapidly in Europe and North America.
As the popularity of chocolate grew, production spread across the world to satisfy increasing demand. Interestingly, cocoa only arrived in West Africa in the early 20th century. But by the 1960s West Africa dominated global cocoa production, and in particular Ghana and Ivory Coast have become the world’s leading cocoa producers and exporters.
Not surprisingly, given the growth in trade of cocoa and consumption of chocolate, governments have intervened in the markets through various types of regulations. The early regulations (in the 16th–19th centuries) focused mostly on extracting revenue from cocoa production and trade through, for example, taxes on cocoa trade and the sales of monopoly rights for chocolate production.
The world is currently experiencing a ‘Second Great Chocolate Boom.’
More recent regulations have focused mostly on quality and safety. With growing demand for chocolate in the 19th century, chocolate producers substituted cocoa with cheaper raw materials, going from various starchy products and fats to poisonous ingredients. Scientific inventions of the 18th and 19th centuries allowed better testing of the chocolate ingredients. Public outrage against the use of unhealthy ingredients (now scientifically proven), led to a series of safety regulations on which specific ingredients were not allowed in chocolate – and in countries such as France and Belgium also in a legal definition of ‘chocolate’.
Chocolate consumption has many fascinating aspects. It is bought both for the pleasure of consumption and as a gift. It has been considered a healthy food, a sinful indulgence, an aphrodisiac, and the cause of obesity.
For much of history, chocolate (or cocoa drinks more generally) was praised for its positive effects on health and nutrition (and other benefits for the human body). As people were poor, hungry, and short of energy, chocolate drinks and later chocolate bars became an important additional source of nutrition.
In recent years, chocolate consumption is often associated with negative health issues, such as obesity. Recent research has shown that its health potential is closely linked to the composition of the final product and, not surprisingly, to the quantity consumed: darker, lower-fat, and lower-sugar varieties, consumed in a balanced diet are more likely to be healthy than the opposite consumption pattern.
In today’s high income societies where hunger is an exception, food is cheap, and obesity is on the rise, systematic overconsumption of chocolate – often associated with impulsive consumption and lack of self-control – is more associated with health problems. New research in behavioral engineering is targeted to help consumers deal with situational influences, and change behavior in a sustainable way, i.e. by ‘nudging’ them to change their consumption behavior and resisting the lure of chocolate.
One of the intriguing aspects of chocolate is its ‘quality’. Different from many other foods (such as cheese or wine) perceived chocolate quality is not related to the location where the raw material is grown or produced, but to the chocolate manufacturing process and location.
Some countries, such as Switzerland and Belgium are associated with prestigious traditions of chocolate manufacturing. However, perceptions do not always fit reality. ‘Belgian chocolates’, such as pralines and truffles, are now world famous but until 1960, Belgium imported more chocolate than it exported. Since then its “Belgian chocolates” have conquered the world – while the world has taken over the Belgian chocolate (companies). Most “Belgian chocolates” are now owned by international holdings – and a sizeable amount is produced outside the country.
Moreover, consumer perceptions of ‘quality’ are strongly influenced by consumer experiences with their local chocolate – this includes the smoothness of Swiss chocolate from long conching, the milkiness of British chocolate, and the preference of American consumers for chocolate that Europeans consider inferior.
In fact, the integration of the UK, Ireland and Denmark into the (precursor of the) European Union, which included France and Belgium in 1973 resulted in a ‘Chocolate War’ which lasted for 30 years. Disputes between the old and the new member states of the definition of “Chocolate” (and its ingredients) made that British chocolate was banned from much of the EU continent for three decades.
Ethical concerns about chocolate have been triggered by the specific structure of the structure of the global cocoa-chocolate value chain. For most of the past century, the value chain was characterized by a South-to-North orientation, with most of the raw material (cocoa beans) produced in developing countries (‘the South’) and most chocolate manufacturing and consumption in the richer countries (‘the North’). Another characteristic is that cocoa production in the South is almost exclusively by smallholders, while cocoa grinding and (first stage) chocolate manufacturing processes are often dominated by very large companies.
The cocoa-chocolate value chain has undergone significant transformations in recent years. First, in the 1960s through the 1980s the cocoa production and marketing in developing countries was strongly state regulated, often dominated by (para-)statal companies and state regulated prices and trade, etc. In recent years there has been substantial liberalizations of these sectors and the market plays a much larger role in price setting and trading, often resulting in new hybrid forms of ‘public-private governance’ of the world’s cocoa farmers.
Second, these new regulatory systems are reinforced by consumer awareness around labour conditions and low incomes in African smallholder production related to structural imbalances in the value chain. Consumer concerns and civil society campaigns around poor socio-economic conditions of producers (such as child labor) have affected companies’ strategies and responses. These involved (a) sustainability initiatives with civil society and governments, (b) certification initiatives including Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Utz, and (c) various forms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.
The world is currently experiencing a ‘Second Great Chocolate Boom’. Rapidly growing demand is now not coming from ‘the North’, but from rapidly growing developing and emerging countries, including China, India and also Africa. The unprecedented growth of the past decades, the associated urbanization, and the huge size of their economies have turned China and India into major growth markets for chocolate. While consumption is highest in China, and the growth is strong, the country with – by far – the highest growth rates in chocolate consumption is India. In addition, significant African growth of the past 15 years is now also translating into growing chocolate consumption on the continent where most of the cocoa beans are produced.
Headline image: Fresh Cacao from São Tomé & Príncipe, by Everjean. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
Everyone knows that aerobic exercise is good for the body, but is it always as good for brain? Furthermore, is exercise better than eating lots of chocolate for the aging brain? A recent study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience by a group of scientists from Columbia University and NYU gave a large daily dose […]Add a Comment
Caffeine is the world’s most commonly abused brain stimulant. Daily caffeine consumption by adolescents (ages 9-17 years) has been rapidly increasing most often in the form of soda, energy drinks, and coffee. A few years ago, a pair of studies documented that caffeine consumption in young adults directly correlated with increased illicit drug use and generally […]Add a Comment
Does coffee enhance marijuana? A study published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience (Vol 34 (19):6480-6484, 2014) by neuroscientists from the Integrative Neurobiology Section of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, has finally provided a definitive answer: Yes, No, and it depends.Add a Comment
From its journey to Europe from the New World at the beginning of the sixteenth century to its modern-day iteration as we know it, chocolate climbed its way into the hearts and homes of people all over the world. In its long and fruitful evolution through time, we've pulled together a timeline of chocolate's history from Europeans first encounter with the substance with the Aztecs through the Heirloom Cacao Initiative in 2014.Add a Comment
Incorporating the idea of sweetness in songs is nothing new to the music industry. Ubiquitous terms like "sugar" and "honey" are used in ways of both endearment and condescension, love and disdain. Among the (probably) hundreds of songs about sweets, Aaron Gilbreath, essayist and journalist from Portland, Oregon, curated a list of 50 songs, which is included in The Oxford Companion of Sugar and Sweets.Add a Comment
Have you ever tried vinarterta? How about gugelhupf? Whether these are familiar or completely foreign to you, this list of sweets are a must for everyone with a sweet tooth. All the sweets, cakes, desserts, and treats on this list come from The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, so give them a go and try one, some, or all!Add a Comment
Of all the beverages favored by Oxford University Press staff, coffee may be the lifeblood of our organization. From the coffee bar in the Fairway of our Oxford office to the coffee pots on every floor of the New York office, we’re wired for work. Here’s a brief gallery of employees with their preferred roast — grabbed from a street cart, made to order, or part of an elaborate weekly routine.
Oxford staff are ready for their next meeting!
“My cappuccino from the OUP coffee bar in my Shakespeare insults mug – so I can fire creative insults and keep caffeinated at the same time…you canker-blossom!”
— Hannah Charters, Senior Marketing Executive, Online Product Marketing
“An Americano from the OUP espresso bar. The mug shows the mantra I like living by!”
— Rachel Fenwick, Associate Marketing Manager, Online Product Marketing
“Tall Pike in a Grande cup from Starbucks”
— Jennifer Bernard, Assistant Online Marketing Manager
“A Vacuum Pot Coffee at Edison Food and Drink Lab, Tampa Florida”
— Erin Rabbit, Designer, Creative Services, Marketing
“Grabbing coffee with a friend is one of my favorite pastimes. Good conversation over an even better coffee is the best! I’m a huge fan of locally owned coffee shops, so I always find myself recommending the Stumptown Coffee on E 8th downtown. I splurge and get the largest latte I can—iced or hot, depending on the season. The flavor is so strong! It’s a kick in the face. Otherwise, my typical go to is a cup, (or 2…or 3) of any flavored Keurig coffee in the OUP office. No match to Stumptown, but it does the job. I grew up in the south, so I like my coffee southern-style—lots of sugar and cream. Props to Mom and Dad for the sweet mug!”
— Ryan Cury, Assistant Marketing Manager
“Always opt for an espresso mid-afternoon for two equally important reasons. Firstly, it provides the boost I need to conquer the remains of the day and, secondly, it makes me feel like a giant when drinking.”
— Dan Parker, Social Media Marketing Executive
“I enjoy a standard Americano with cold milk. Because: I can’t be done with faffy coffee.”
— Kirsty Doole, Publicity Manager
“Mine was a salted caramel mochaccino.”
— Simon Thomas, Content Marketing Executive, Dictionaries
“Mine was a lovely frothy milky latte – filling and delicious!”
— Kate Farquhar-Thomson, Publicity Director
“Decaf filter coffee, for those times when you think three coffees in three hours might be too much.”
— Nicola Burton, Publicity Manager
“Put that pungent brew to your lips and feel the satisfaction.”
— Sam Blum, Publicity Assistant and member of the Fresh Pots Society
There is an unquantifiable amount of different types of food across the world, ranging from lesser known edibles like elephant garlic and ship’s biscuit to more familiar foods like chocolate and oranges. In the newly updated Oxford Companion to Food, readers will discover more than 3,000 comprehensive entries on every type of food imaginable, and a richly descriptive account of food culture around the world. The Oxford Companion to Food contains facts sure to delight foodies of all ages.
Welcome to Oxford University Press’s restaurant. We’ll take your coat. It’s time to find out just how much you know about the food you eat.
Headline image credit: Fruit and Veg, by Garry Knight. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Flickr
Sometimes what is considered edible is subject to a given culture or region of the world; what someone from Nicaragua would consider “local grub” could be entirely different than what someone in Paris would eat. How many different types of meat have you experienced? Are there some types of meat you would never eat? Below are nine different types of meat, listed in The Oxford Companion to Food, that you may not have considered trying:
Camel: Still eaten in some regions, a camel’s hump is generally considered the best part of the body to eat. Its milk, a staple for desert nomads, contains more fat and slightly more protein than cow’s milk.
Beaver: A beaver’s tail and liver are considered delicacies in some countries. The tail is fatty tissue and was greatly relished by early trappers and explorers. Its liver is large and almost as tender and sweet as a chicken’s or a goose’s.
Agouti: Also spelled aguti; a rodent species that may have been described by Charles Darwin as “the very best meat I ever tasted” (though he may have been actually describing a guinea pig since he believed agouti and cavy were interchangeable names).
Armadillo: Its flesh is rich and porky, and tastes more like possum than any other game. A common method of cooking is to bake the armadillo in its own shell after removing its glands.
Capybara: The capybara was an approved food by the Pope for traditional “meatless” days, probably since it was considered semiaquatic. Its flesh, unless prepared carefully to trim off fat, tastes fishy.
Hedgehog: A traditional gypsy cooking method is to encase the hedgehog in clay and roast it, after which breaking off the baked clay would take the spines with it.
Alligator: Its meat is white and flaky, likened to chicken or, sometimes, flounder. Alligators were feared to become extinct from consumption, until they started becoming farmed.
Iguana: Iguanas were an important food to the Maya people when the Spaniards took over Central America. Its eggs were also favored, being the size of a table tennis ball, and consisted entirely of yolk.
Puma: Charles Darwin believed he was eating some kind of veal when presented with puma meat. He described it as, “very white, and remarkably like veal in taste”. One puma can provide a lot of meat, since each can weigh up to 100 kg (225 lb).
Has this list changed the way you view these animals? Would you try alligator meat but turn your nose up if presented with a hedgehog platter?
With nearly 200 countries in the world, the vast number and variety of dishes is staggering, which goes to show just how diverse your food can get. Which countries’ foods do you enjoy the most? Is there a particular characteristic of your favorite food that can’t be found anywhere else in the world? Do you know how national dishes vary by region? Explore (just some) of the world’s different cuisines discussed in The Oxford Companion to Food, from Afghanistan to Yemen, with our interactive map below:
Featured image credit: Olives, photo by Dominique Godbout. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
The International Diabetes Foundation has marked 14 November as World Diabetes Day, commemorating the date that Frederick Banting and his team first discovered insulin, and the link between it and diabetic symptoms.
As we approach the festive season, a time of year when indulgence and comfort are positively encouraged, keeping track of, or even thinking about blood glucose levels can become a difficult and annoying task. If good diabetic practice relies on building routines suited to the way your blood sugar levels change throughout the day, then the holidays can prove a big disruption to the task of keeping diabetes firmly in the background. With this in mind, take a look at this list of tips, facts, and advice taken from Diabetes by David Matthews, Niki Meston, Pam Dyson, Jenny Shaw, Laurie King, and Aparna Pal to help you stay in control and happy throughout the festive months:
Heading image: Christmas Eve by Carl Larsson. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The post On World Diabetes Day, a guide to managing diabetes during the holidays appeared first on OUPblog.
There is something quintessentially American about peanut butter. While people in other parts of the world eat it, nowhere is it devoured with the same gusto as in the United States, where peanut butter is ensconced in an estimated 85% of home kitchens. Who exactly invented peanut butter is unknown; the only person to make that claim was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the chief medical officer at the Sanatarium, the fashionable health retreat in Battle Creek, Michigan. Kellogg, a vegetarian who invented Corn Flakes, was seeking an alternative for “cows’ butter.” He thought puréed nutmeats might work, and in the early 1890s Kellogg experimented with processing nuts through steel rollers. He served the nut butters to his patients at the Sanatarium, who loved them. Remarkably, in less than a decade peanut butter would emerge from the province of extremist “health nuts” to become a mainstream American fad food.
America’s elite visited the Battle Creek Sanatarium to recover their health, and many fell in love with the foods served there—particularly peanut butter. It soon became a passion with health-food advocates nationwide, and newspapers and magazines quoted vegetarians extolling its virtues. A vegetarianism advocate, Ellen Goodell Smith, published the first recipe for a peanut butter sandwich in her Practical Cook and Text Book for General Use (1896).
Homemade peanut butter was initially ground in a mortar and pestle, but this required considerable effort. It was also made with a hand-cranked meat- or coffee-grinder, but these did not produce a smooth butter. Joseph Lambert, an employee at the Sanatarium, adapted a meat-grinder to make it more suitable for producing nut butters at home. He also invented or acquired the rights to other small appliances, all intended to simplify the making of nut butters. These included a stovetop nut roaster, a small blancher (to remove the skins from the nuts), and a hand grinder that cranked out a smooth, creamy product. In 1896, Lambert left the Sanatarium and set up his own company to manufacture and sell the equipment.
Lambert mailed advertising flyers to households throughout the United States, and some recipients who bought the equipment started their own small businesses selling nut products. As nut butters became more popular, these machines proved inadequate to keep up with demand, so Lambert ramped up production of larger ones. He also published leaflets and booklets extolling the high food value of nuts and their butters. His wife, Almeda Lambert, published A Guide for Nut Cookery (1899), America’s first book devoted solely to cooking with nuts.
Vegetarians — who at the time practiced what we may now consider veganism — enjoyed all sorts of nut butters, which weren’t simply novel spreads for sandwiches but also sustaining, high-protein meat substitutes. But peanuts were the cheapest nuts, and it was peanut butter that dominated the field. It was first manufactured in small quantities by individuals and sold locally from door to door, but before long, small factories sprang up and peanut butter became a familiar article on grocers’ shelves. The American Vegetarian Society (AVS) sold peanut butter and actively promoted its sale through advertisements in magazines. In 1897 the AVS also began promoting the sale of the “Vegetarian Society Mill,” with an accompanying eight-page pamphlet encouraging vegetarians to create home-based peanut butter businesses. Vegetarians all over the country began to manufacture commercial peanut butter. The Vegetarian Food & Nut Company, in Washington, D.C., sold a product called “Dr. Shindler’s Peanut Butter” throughout the United States for decades. The company also produced private-label peanut butter for grocery store chains, and non-vegetarians quickly adopted the tasty new product.
The Atlantic Peanut Refinery in Philadelphia, launched in December 1898, may have been the first company to use the words “peanut butter” on its label. The term was picked up by other commercial manufacturers, although a New Haven, Connecticut, manufacturer preferred the term “Peanolia,” (later shortened to Penolia), and registered it in 1899.
By 1899, an estimated two million pounds of peanut butter were manufactured annually in the United States, and by the turn of the century, ten peanut-butter manufacturers competed for the burgeoning US market. From its origin just six years earlier as an alternative to creamery butter, peanut butter had established itself as an American pantry staple and a necessity for schoolchildren’s lunch pails.
What started as a simple festival celebrating the year’s bountiful harvest has turned into an archetypal American holiday, with grand dinners featuring savory and sweet dishes alike. Thanksgiving foods have changed over the years, but there are still some iconic favorites that have withstood time. Hover over each food below in this interactive image and find out more about their role in this day of feasting:
What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Let us know in the comments below!
The world is more interested in issues surrounding agriculture and food than ever before. Questions swirl around the safety of our food, how it’s made, and what we can do to ensure we eat the best food. We asked F. Bailey Norwood, one of the authors of Agricultural and Food Controversies: What Everyone Needs to Know, to answer some of today’s most pressing queries.
Why has agriculture become so controversial?
There are many reasons, but a major one is the fact that agriculture today involves both big corporations and big government. Individuals with left-leaning political beliefs are hostile towards big corporations, whereas those on the right feel the same way about big government. This creates political tension that is not easy to resolve. Big corporations exist because there are economies-of-scale in agriculture, and there are extensive government regulations due to the many ways agriculture affects human health and the environment. Rather than lament the politicization of food, perhaps we should view it as a sign of a healthy democracy.
How do regulators know whether the pesticides we apply are safe?
The same way kings and popes would make sure their food wasn’t poisoned: they had official tasters who ate the food first. Our tasters are laboratory animals, who are exposed to varying amounts of pesticides, to determine at what level exposure to pesticides are unsafe. Humans are obviously not laboratory animals, so there is a safety-factor built into regulations, such that humans will not be exposed to even 1/100 of the amount that would impair the health of a lab rat.
What is the best way to reduce the carbon footprint of the food I eat?
Some foods emit more greenhouse gases than others. Beef, for instance, has a higher carbon footprint per-calorie than most other foods. Vegans are often found to have smaller carbon footprints than their omnivorous counterparts. Rather than concentrating on which foods you eat, an alternative strategy is to buy cheaper food and use the savings to purchase carbon offsets. Although this may not have the cultural appeal as Meatless Mondays, it is arguably the best way to reduce the carbon footprint of your food.
Are foods made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) safe to eat?
The most prestigious scientific organizations like the National Academy of Sciences believe so. Those who both understand the science of genetic modification and fear such foods usually do so because they believe the corporations creating GMOs have excessive political influence. What is so interesting about the GMO debate is that the practice of cutting genes out of one organism and placing them into the DNA of another organism has become so controversial, yet the practice of altering plant genes by zapping their DNA with radiation has not. At my university, opposition to GMOs has discouraged us from improving wheat by genetic modification, but some of our best wheat varieties were created by inducing genetic mutations in wheat through chemicals. It is not clear why one of these is feared and the other one is ignored.
Should I join the local foods movement?
If you believe you can acquire better food from local sources, whether it be higher quality or lower prices, then yes, buying local foods is a great idea. The local food movement might also help induce a cultural change such that people begin eating healthier foods. That said, there is little validity to the argument that buying local foods is good for economic growth, and there is no guarantee that local foods are better for the environment.
Headline image credit: Ecologically grown vegetables by Elina Mark. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The post The food we eat: A Q&A on agricultural and food controversies appeared first on OUPblog.
With the holiday season upon us, many of us are busy in our kitchens cooking secret family recipes and the season’s favorite delicacies. Looking at the delicious options in The Oxford Companion to Food, we compiled a list of various holiday specialties and treats from around the world that you may want to incorporate in your next holiday feast.
Speculaas, otherwise known as Christmas biscuits were traditionally baked for St Nicholas’s Eve on 5 December. They are made of wheat flour, butter, sugar, and a mixture of spices in which cinnamon is predominant. The dough is baked in decorative molds. The biscuits are crisp and flattish and may have cut almonds pressed into the underside.
Sufganiyah are a type of doughnut made in Israel for Hanukkah celebrations. Using a yeast-leavened dough they are enriched with milk, eggs, and sugar. After being deep-fried they are filled with jam, often apricot, and rolled in caster sugar.
Oatcakes are made from oats (in the form of oatmeal), salt, water, and sometimes have a little fat added into them. Oatcakes are made for the Scottish celebration, Hogmanay, traditionally the most important holiday of the year in Scotland, celebrating New Year’s Eve.
Spiced beef, a type of preserved beef, is an important part of traditional Christmas fare in Ireland. The beef is soaked in brine, brown sugar, juniper berries, and spices which can include black peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, nutmeg, and pimento for any time between three weeks and three months.
Vasilopitta is a traditional Greek New Year bread, also known as St Basil’s bread. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are celebrated more elaborately than Christmas in Greece. The Greek equivalent to Father Christmas is Aghios Vasilis—St Basil—and he arrives on New Year’s Eve when the children receive presents. The vasilopitta occupies a prominent position on the table for the arrival of the New Year.
Vanillekipferl (vanilla crescent), made from a rich pastry type of dough containing almonds and flavored with vanilla or lemon peel is popular in Germany and Central Europe, especially as a Christmas specialty.
Bakewell Pudding, a rich custard of egg yolks, butter, sugar, and flavouring—ratafia (almond) is suggested—poured over a layer of mixed jams an inch thick and baked wasis famous not only in Derbyshire, but in several of northern counties of England, where it is usually served on all holiday occasions. In this form, it bears some resemblance to various cheesecake recipes.
Choerek (or choereg, choereq, churekg etc.—the name has seemingly innumerable transcriptions) means ‘holiday bread’. This is an enriched bread (using sour cream, butter, egg), oven baked, made in a variety of shapes and sizes and flavours in the Caucasus. The most common shape is ‘knotted’ or braided bread, but it also is made in snail shapes in Georgia. Flavourings include aniseed, mahlab (a spice derived from black cherry kernels), vanilla, cinnamon, and grated lemon or orange rind
The Chinese practice of eating noodles on special occasions as a symbol of longevity is also found in Japan. A typical example is the custom of eating soba on New Year’s Eve. Soba are thin, buckwheat noodles, light brown in colour. Though it is possible to make soba purely of buckwheat flour (kisoba, or ‘pure soba’), it is common to add some wheat flour to the buckwheat in order to make the dough less crumbly.
Featured image credit: Dinner Table for Christmas by Cam-Fu (camknows). CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr.
In many parts of the world, Christmas does not lack in spirit or rich flavors. Though sweets are a major highlight to this festive holiday, there are quite a few notable savory foods to consider. As you are sitting down to your third helping of turkey, take a look through just some of the Christmas foods people will be eating this year:
What sorts of Christmas foods do you have every year? Let us know in the comments below.
Headline image credit: Christmas decoration. Image by Hades2k. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.Add a Comment
Tea, tea glorious tea! When hot water hits the leaves of the tea plant, an alchemical reaction takes place producing an invigorating and refreshing cupful of pure bliss.
Originating in the East, for thousands of years tea was a bitter medicinal draft. Finally, in the 17th century tea came of age with the historic addition of milk and sugar. This match-made-in-heaven oiled the wheels of the British Empire and it developed more than just a passing fancy for the beverage, swilling down its heavenly hot-and-wetness by the drum-load.
Tea has weathered many a storm since (not least the controversial debut of artificial sweetener in 1917) in 2003 the Royal Society of Chemistry claimed to have scientifically proven that a ‘milk first’ cup of Assam made the superior brew. Rioting in the streets was only avoided because the 4:00pm announcement coincided with the afternoon tea break.
The perfect cup is still hotly debated today and tea continues to fuel innovation here at Oxford University Press. This January is Hot Tea month, so be prepared to defend your choice of brew!
“My collection of fruity and flavoured teas for when I need warming up on a cold grey day.”
– Hannah Charters, Associate Online Product Marketing Manager
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“Say TEAs! Ladies of OUP Cary chat about the season premiere of Downton Abbey over a cup of tea in their matching mugs. Molly, Abigail, and Courtney enjoy peppermint.”
– Megan McPherson and Molly Hansen, Institutional Marketing; Courtney Flaherty, Creative Services
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“I’m drinking Twining’s green tea. I usually go for coffee in the mornings, but decaf tea is perfect for the afternoon.”
– Mackenzie Warren, Marketing Associate
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“I tend to go for an afternoon redbush tea from my super-manly Jemima Puddleduck mug. Props from the OUP Christmas Show in the background create a somewhat eerie backdrop to my tea-drinking experience.”
– Dan Parker, Social Media Marketing Executive
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“Although I usually alternate between coffee and tea throughout the day, I must admit I’ve been leaning a bit more towards tea since I picked up this ‘mana-tea’ strainer. Whether it’s chai, black tea with lemon, earl grey, or green tea, whatever I’m drinking magically becomes cuter when I’m sipping it alongside an adorable marine mammal!”
– Carrie Napolitano, Marketing Associate, Academic/Trade Marketing
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“365 mornings a year, I order a Grande Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks. I’ve been going to the same Starbucks during the work week for some time now and my favorite baristas, Frank and Denize, are the best and usually have my order ready for me when I get to the counter. On the weekends, my home Starbucks also knows me and my love of chai tea. I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life but I need caffeine so green tea does the trick. I usually drink an afternoon cup and choose from my ever-growing tea shelf in my office. Bigelow Green Tea with pomegranate is my favorite for the afternoon.”
– Michelle Kelly, Marketing Manager
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“I start the day with fresh, loose, English breakfast tea from a specialty shop. My mid-morning second cup is Barry’s Tea from Ireland. My afternoon cup is usually run-of-the mill Lipton tea – not sure why I bother – it’s pretty bad.”
– Greg Bussy, Marketing Director
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“Simon Jared is drinking a lovely cup of earl grey in the picture above. He likes strong tea in the morning so has it black (often the cause of controversy during tea breaks). Miranda Dobson is drinking oolong tea, which is known for improving mental alertness.”
– Simon Jared, Marketing Executive for Commercial Law, and Miranda Dobson, Marketing Assistant for Commercial Law
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What’s your favourite type of tea? Let us know in the comments below.
Headline image credit: Tea in different grade of fermentation, by Haneburger. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.