What is the History of Turmeric?

History of Tumeric

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Turmeric, the golden colored strongly flavored spice, is having a “moment.” This ancient spice, celebrated for centuries as both food and medicine, has resurfaced within the health and nutrition communities thanks to curcumin, the healing substance which supplies its vibrant color. Curcumin has significant anti-inflammatory properties that are said to rival those found in ibuprofen. Unlike over-the-counter drugs, turmeric has no toxic effects on the body. Curcumin’s powerful antioxidant advantages have been shown to protect healthy cells, particularly those found in the colon, from cancer-causing agents. It aids the body in destroying mutated cancer cells before they have a chance to spread to other areas. Turmeric also helps to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. All that, and it’s tasty too!

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Food of the California Gold Rush

California Gold Rush

A forty-niner gold panning in California’s American River, 1850
Photo: L.C. McClure. Source: Wikimedia Commons

When James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California on January 24, 1848, news traveled fast. In the years that followed nearly 300,000 folks from the US and abroad made their way to the west coast to take a chance at finding their fortune. In 1849 alone, 80,000 new faces entered California. These gold-seeking travelers were dubbed the “forty-niners,” a reference to the year when the rush for gold really picked up steam. Prior to this time California was a territory focused primarily on agriculture. Once word of the gold discovery spread, many farmers abandoned their fields in favor of seeking their fortunes. The small oceanside harbor village of Yerba Buena was soon overflowing with ships; the area became the booming metropolis now known as San Francisco. This turn of events had a major impact on the culinary landscape of California. The state’s potential to become an agricultural heavyweight was put on hold as Oregon stepped up to become the main food provider to the gold-rush population. In 1849, when gold rush towns were first taking root, most food was cooked at the mining sites or in newly established boarding houses and saloons. As more and more travelers arrived from a variety of regions and economic backgrounds, restaurants, hotels and inns were built to accommodate and feed them.

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What Is the History of Eggnog?

History of Eggnog

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Eggnog is a drink that most people either adore or despise; there is rarely a middle ground. It’s not difficult to understand why some folks are wary of the rich and creamy holiday drink. The combination of raw eggs, milk and sugar might seem strange, until one realizes that unfrozen ice cream has the same basic components. Those who fall on the side of loving eggnog look forward to winter, when grocery store coolers fill with every variety of the drink they can dream of. From pumpkin eggnog to organic to dairy free “soy” nog and yes, even eggnog-flavored ice cream… there are many delicious options to toast the holiday season each year.

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History of Pumpkins and Recipe Round-Up

Pumpkin Pie

There is no denying that once autumn rolls in, the pumpkin reigns supreme. All year long folks wait for their favorite coffee shops to fill with the aroma of pumpkin spice lattes. It’s the season when grocery stores stock their shelves with limited edition pumpkin cookies and ice cream. October is synonymous with Halloween jack-o’-lanterns; as Thanksgiving approaches we pull out our time-honored pumpkin pie recipes. It seems that no food symbolizes the blustery fall season quite like pumpkins.

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Mark Twain: A Little Bill of Fare

Mark Twain

Mark Twain. Detail of photo by Mathew Brady, February 7, 1871. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

“An American loves his family. If he has any love left over for some other person he generally selects Mark Twain.”

- Thomas Edison

Mark Twain, American literary luminary, was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835. A brilliant writer and humorist, Twain left behind a number of timeless and eminently quotable works. He is perhaps best known today for his classic American novels, Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In his time, however, Twain rose to fame as a journalist writing short, humorous stories for newspapers. His works of fiction were often inspired by the experiences of his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri. At the time, Missouri made up part of the country’s western border and legally allowed its residents to own slaves. His summers were spent in the slave quarters of his uncle’s farm. There he heard many of the tales that would later influence some of his most famous stories.

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Discover the History of Beets


Photo courtesy of Tori Avey – How to Roast Beets, ToriAvey.com

They are said to have grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Elizabethans enjoyed them in tarts and stews. Thomas Jefferson planted them at Monticello. Medieval cooks stuffed them into pies. The colorful, sweet root vegetable known as the beet tends to spark an impassioned response from folks who either love it or loathe it. In the anti-beet camp are President Obama and his wife Michelle, who asked that they not be planted in the White House’s organic vegetable garden. Many complain that beets have an “earthy” taste, which isn’t far off the mark. Beets contain a substance called geosmin, which is responsible for that fresh soil scent in your garden following a spring rain. Humans are quite sensitive to geosmin, even in very low doses, which explains why our beet response ranges from one extreme to the other. Some people adore the sweet and earthy flavor of beets, while others can’t stand the thought of them.

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History in a Jar: The Story of Pickles

Quick Pickles

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It is rumored that they were one of Cleopatra’s prized beauty secrets. They make apperances in the Bible and in Shakespeare’s writing. Pregnant women have been known to crave them along with ice cream. Pickles have been around for thousands of years, dating as far back as 2030 BC when cucumbers from their native India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The word “pickle” comes from the Dutch pekel or northern German pókel, meaning “salt” or “brine,” two very important components in the pickling process. Throughout history pickling was a necessity, as it was the best way to preserve food for a long period of time. As one of the earliest mobile foods, pickles filled the stomachs of hungry sailors and travelers, while also providing families with a source of food during the cold winter months.

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Judy Garland and Her Favorite Vegetable Salad

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.

Judy Garland

A publicity still of Judy Garland from MGM film The Harvey Girls (1946). (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The incomparable Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Her parents, Ethel and Frank Gumm, were former vaudeville actors, so it’s no surprise that Judy’s stage career got started when she was very young. In 1926 the Gumms relocated to California where she and her two older sisters, Susie and Jimmie, took lessons in acting and dancing and Ethel served as manager and agent for her daughters. When Judy was just 6, the girls began performing vaudeville acts under the name “The Gumm Sisters.” Judy stood out as Baby Gumm and audiences were very impressed with this small child’s phenomenal voice. Though her acting career was extraordinary, Judy Garland will always be remembered for her gifted singing abilities.

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