Southern cuisine has deep roots in Africa. One of the most vibrant cultures contributing to the South’s identity was actually one that evolved from unintended diversity.
The Gullah Geechee is a distinct group descended from slaves brought from West Africa to the coastal areas of the South in the early 18th century. They were instrumental in building the wealth of the southern states for decades. However, when the Civil War loomed, and fearing anti-slavery retribution, many plantation owners moved inland for safety reasons, leaving slaves to fend for themselves on the coast islands. Out of this circumstance grew the Gullah Geechee culture, one with unique community, spirituality, farming, music, crafts and cuisine.
Posted in Blog, Bon Appetit Wednesday, Culinary, Culture
Tagged african cuisine, American slavery, Ancient Africa, ancient food, antiquity, bon appetit, Bon Appetit Wedensday, creole, geechee, gullah, melting pot, slavery, southern cooking
By Mosborne01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Pompeii is still dishing up its surprises. In December 2020 a significant find was announced after the expansion of an excavation site of a thermopolium. For those not familiar with Pompeian fast food, that’s an establishment, one of possibly 150 in Pompeii, that served up the best of takeaway and sit-down eats. Yes, Pompeii had its eat-as-you-go devotees as we do today.
By Jebulon – Own work, CC0
The recent excavation of the thermopolium has revealed exuberantly painted and finely detailed frescoes that have excited the archaeological world and given Pompeii another reason to be ranked among the most important of international treasures. Of particular note is that the uncovered frescos were no mere decoration adorning the walls and counter of the thermopolium. Rather, they served as menus depicting the popular dishes that could be purchased. Since many of the clientele were illiterate and from poorer populations, the pictures indicated food choices; customers merely had to point to pictures to order. To see what the excitement is all about, take a look at the colorful drawings of daily fare, including fish and fowl, here. Listen to Massimo Osanna, who is Director General of National Museums, Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, and Director of Pompeii, describe the importance of the frescoes. Then revisit our Bon Appetit Wednesday! blog for more fascinating facts on thermopolia, their status in Pompeian culture and the menus that whetted the appetites of their patrons. Finally, flaunt your culinary chops by whipping up a dish from a recipe we included for a Pompeian staple. Continue reading
A while back we posted a holiday recipe for eggnog that explained how 7,500 years or so ago, humans in the region between the central Balkans and central Europe developed “lactase persistence.” According to a study by Professor Mark Thomas of University College London (UCL) Genetics, Evolution and Environment, “Most adults worldwide do not produce the enzyme lactase and so are unable to digest the milk sugar lactose. However, most Europeans continue to produce lactase throughout their life, a characteristic known as lactase persistence. In Europe, a single genetic change (13,910*T) is strongly associated with lactase persistence and appears to have given people with it a big survival advantage.”1
Image courtesy of An Italian in My Kitchen
Nowadays fast food comes in all forms throughout the world. A life on the go means quick fare at affordable prices. Whether hamburgers, tacos, satay, samosas, crepes or today’s recipe of fish and chips, fast food is ubiquitous.
Modern convenience? Not if you take a page from Roman culinary history.
Thermopolia (s., thermopolium) were eateries found aplenty in the Roman Empire. In fact, Pompeii boasted around 150 thermopolia. A thermopolium was an open air room with an L-shaped counter distinguished by large storage urns called dolia containing dry edibles such as nuts. Each day the thermopolium featured different dishes available for purchase. People could select such standard victuals as “coarse bread with salty fish, baked cheese, lentils and spicy wine.”1 Other fare included pizza (tomatoes were not yet brought to Europe at the time) made of cheese and onions, soups, pickles, eggs and ham.2 A tempting array of palate pleasers no doubt. And like our 21st century fast food menus, thermopolia meals were based on their convenience and simplicity. Customers knew what to expect and would merely point to the blue plate specials they wanted. Continue reading
We love Egyptian recipes! There are so many delicious ancient Egyptian foods, ingredients and dishes to explore and today we’re bringing you one more. Um Ali, also called Om Ali, is a sweet and creamy bread pudding dessert that has become a traditional modern Egyptian dessert. It brings so much joy to the palate, but it has a surprisingly dark history. It was actually created in the 13th century to celebrate the murder of Shajar al-Durr, a sultana. Click here to read the entire sordid affair.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be celebrating something so dark and dismal in order to enjoy this traditional sweet. It can be served cold or warm depending on the season and it’s made with ingredients you most likely have in your kitchen right now. For a fancier and more complex version, visit click here. Enjoy some Um Ali this holiday season!
p.s. Click here for a list of our other Egyptian recipe posts.
- 1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup flaked coconut
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar, divided
- 4 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.
- Place the pastry sheets in the baking dish and place the dish in the oven. Watch it closely. When the top layer turns crunchy and golden, remove it from the oven. Continue until all the sheets are cooked.
- Preheat the oven’s broiler.
- In a bowl, combine walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, raisins, coconut and 1/4 cup sugar. Break cooked pastry into pieces and stir into nut mixture. Spread mixture evenly in 9×13-inch dish.
- Bring milk and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Pour over nut mixture.
- Beat the heavy cream with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread evenly over nut mixture in dish.
- Place dessert under oven broiler until top is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Posted in Blog, Bon Appetit Wednesday, Culinary, Culture
Tagged Ancient Egypt, ancient food, ancient history, ancient recipes, AntiquityNOW, Bon Appetit Wednesday, bread pudding, Egyptian dessert, Om Ali, Recipes with a Past, Um Ali, Umm Ali
Pork is an ancient food with a complicated past. It has nourished numerous cultures for generations and yet, for religious reasons, has been taboo in others. This month we celebrate the succulent meat by looking back on some of our ancient pork recipes below. And then check out this new ancient recipe for Roman Pork Bites (Aliter Ofellas).
Of course, we know that not everyone will want to celebrate this holiday, so for our vegetarian and vegan followers, check out some of these scrumptious ancient recipes.
Do you love Bon Appetit Wednesday? Are you always on the lookout for new and interesting recipes to delight your family and dinner guests? Or do you just love to read about ancient history and how it still impacts our lives today? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to check out our free Recipes With a Past e-cookbooks.
We have three books, free to download and packed with all of our fabulous Recipes With a Past. The holidays are coming and it’s not too early to start planning those holiday meals. Also, these books make great gifts!
Check out the books below.
Click on a book cover to view the pdf.
It’s National Beer Lover’s Day! Did you know we’ve been enjoying this beverage since ancient times? The ancient Egyptians enjoyed a good beer, the ancient Sumerians knew how to chill out with a cold one, even the Chinese enjoyed a version of this libation. So, on this most festive of days, we’re bringing you a story about a 5,000 year old Chinese beer as well as some of our best beer-related blog posts and recipes. Cheers!
Posted in Bon Appetit Wednesday, Culinary, Culture, Recipes With a Past
Tagged ancient beer, ancient food, ancient history, ancient recipes, AntiquityNOW, Bon Appetit Wednesday, Chinese beer, Sumerian beer
It may seem crazy to most people, but when true Floridians see a tropical storm or hurricane coming, they break out the chips and dip and throw a Hurricane Party! Of course, you don’t have to live in Florida to throw a good old fashioned Hurricane Party and we’re going to help you put an ancient spin on it. First, read our post about ancient storms and then check out the Recipes With a Past below to create your first Hurricane Party With a Past!
Posted in Bon Appetit Wednesday, Culinary, Culture, Meteorology, Science and Technology
Tagged ancient food, ancient history, ancient hurricane party, ancient recipes, ancient storms, ancient weather, AntiquityNOW, Bon Appetit Wednesday
Not that we needed a reason to celebrate the sweet, juicy peach, but August is National Peach Month! This fuzzy little fruit has a deliciously ancient history and can be enjoyed solo or in numerous recipes, both savory and sweet. Click on the link below to learn all about the peach and a recipe for Peach Almond Cake. Or click here for an ancient recipe for yummy Filled Peaches!
Posted in Blog, Bon Appetit Wednesday, Culinary, Culture, Recipes With a Past
Tagged ancient food, ancient history, ancient peaches, ancient recipes, AntiquityNOW, filled peaches, peach almond cake