The History of Gingerbread

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

History of Gingerbread

Photo by Tori Avey

Run, run, fast as you can,
You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!

~ The Gingerbread Man, a fairy tale

No confection symbolizes the holidays quite like gingerbread in its many forms, from edible houses to candy-studded gingerbread men to spiced loaves of cake-like bread. In Medieval England, the term gingerbread simply meant ‘preserved ginger’ and wasn’t applied to the desserts we are familiar with until the 15th century. The term is now broadly used to describe any type of sweet treat that combines ginger with honey, treacle or molasses.

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Who Was P.L. Travers, Author of Mary Poppins?

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Mary Poppins Zodiac Cake recipe

Many unsavory claims have been made about Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers. It is said that she was not fond of children. She supposedly despised cookies and California. She loathed the Disney film adaptation of her beloved Mary Poppins so much that her will forbade the possibility of a sequel ever being made. There are several tales like these, yet it seems impossible that someone so persnickety could be capable of writing such a magical children’s book series. Granted, the character of Mary Poppins in the novels is quite different than the nanny depicted by Julie Andrews. Even so, children have been enchanted with Travers’ writing for decades. Just who was P.L. Travers, and was she really as cantankerous as we’ve been led to believe?

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Thanksgivukkah Recipes: Once-In-A-Lifetime Holiday

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Thanksgivukkah

Tori Avey serves up a Thanksgivukkah Feast.

On November 28, 2013, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will overlap. It’s the first time this has happened since Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. The coincidence is quite rare due to the Jewish calendar slowly going out of sync with the solar calendar. According to one recent calculation, the dates won’t match up this way again until the year 79,811. This once-in-a-lifetime dual holiday has been dubbed “Thanksgivukkah” by many American Jews, who will be celebrating both holidays at the same time. Turkeys and menorahs, sweet potatoes and dreidels, cornucopias and latkes… oh my! We’ve got one major party to prepare for.

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Popcorn: A “Pop” History

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Small portion of fresh homemade Popcorn

First, the sound hits you — “pop, pop, pop” — slow at first, then a firestorm of kernels as they magically transform into billows of crunchy white deliciousness. Next the smell wafts throughout the room, tantalizing your nose and your taste buds. By the time your teeth crunch down on that first bite, you’re completely hooked. Popcorn is an irresistible treat. Try keeping a bowl to yourself during family movie night, or buying a small bucket at the movie theater. Before you know it, everyone is grabbing a handful. Popcorn is a simple, tasty treat on its own, but it also lends itself to a variety of toppings; butter, sugar, cinnamon, caramel, a sprinkle of smoked paprika, even chocolate! Popcorn provides a perfect canvas for your sweet and salty cravings.

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Gary Cooper’s Buttermilk Griddle Cakes

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Gary Cooper

Gary Cooper, 1941. Warner Brothers Studio. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Gary Cooper, born Frank James Cooper on May 7, 1901, seemed destined to play the cowboy hero. He grew up on his family’s 7 Bar 9 ranch in Helena, Montana, a working piece of ranch land filled with coyotes, rattlesnakes and grizzly bears. In the early part of the century, cowboys and Native Americans still walked the streets of Helena. As a young child, Frank learned to use a rifle, skin wild animals and make his own moccasins. It seems fitting that Frank went on to become one of the biggest stars of the Western film genre, rising to the popularity of other Hollywood cowboy greats like Gene Autry and John Wayne.

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Discover the History of Meatless Mondays

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Food Will With the War poster

USFA Poster, Artist Charles Edward Chambers. Source: Library of Congress.

Meatless Mondays is a recent global campaign aimed at lowering our overall meat consumption for our health and the environment. Believe it or not, the movement has a history stretching back to World War I. It all started with Herbert Hoover prior to his presidency… and it was originally Tuesdays, not Mondays, when Americans were asked to limit their meat consumption.

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What was Cooking in Leonardo da Vinci’s Kitchen?

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci self portrait, c. 1512. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Born in the town of Vinci in 1452, Leonardo da Vinci came from humble beginnings. He was born out of wedlock to a notary and a peasant woman, then rose to become one of the most celebrated minds of the Italian Renaissance. Though well known in Italy during his lifetime, his creative genius, technological inventiveness and vision would not be fully recognized until hundreds of years after his death. We are most familiar with da Vinci’s remarkable artistic abilities, as evidenced by masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. In addition to being a gifted artist, da Vinci was a polymath… a scientist, engineer, mathematician, musician, sculptor, astronomer, architect, zoologist, anatomist… and, perhaps most surprisingly, a budding nutritionist. Da Vinci was intrigued by food and valued its importance in our daily lives. He was also captivated by kitchen gadgets and inspired a few of the machines we still use today, including an automated device for turning meat on a spit. Shawarma, anyone?

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The Hemingway Special

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Hemingway Special

This frozen daiquiri, so well beaten as it is, looks like the sea where the wave falls away from the bow of a ship when she is doing thirty knots.

- Ernest Hemingway, Islands in the Stream

F. Scott Fitzgerald may have been the first novelist to introduce the daiquiri to a literary audience in This Side of Paradise, but Hemingway was positively poetic about the icy drink. In the 1930s, just after the publication of Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway found himself with a cemented reputation as a celebrated novelist. His house in Key West was constantly flooded with family, friends and literati wishing to bask in his limelight. A crowded home, as you might imagine, does not make the best atmosphere for writing. As a means of escape, he bought a ticket to Cuba and rented a corner room in the Ambos Mundos Hotel where he would devote the cool, breezy mornings to his craft. Once the hot afternoon sun set in, Hemingway would put his work to rest and drift into the city. He spent a good amount of his free time fishing, betting on games of jai alai and, in true Hemingway fashion, familiarizing himself with the local bars and taverns. American Prohibition had recently ended, a period during which Cuba provided a playground for tourists in search of legal intoxication, so there were many bars to choose from. El Floridita, near Havana’s Parque Central, became one of his favorites. It was here that Hemingway was first introduced to his beloved daiquiri.

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