Category Food History

What is the history of French Toast?

Was the French toast invented in France? O one is sure. One story is that, during medieval times, state bread was reused by dipping it in batter and toasting it. But we do not know if the French cooks were the first to dip and fry bread. A similar dish, suppe borate, was popular in England during the middle Ages. There is also the story of Joseph French, an innkeeper in Albany. New York. In 1724, he advertised the fried toast as “French Toast.” Grammatically, he should have said, “French Toast.” But he had not learnt to use apostrophes. The dish is called pain perdu in French, meaning “lost bread” because it is recycled or “lost” bread. What is really “lost” is the origin of this popular breakfast dish.


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What is the history of Pie?

Did you know that the popular circle-shaped food item that can be sweet or savory was once spelt “pye”? This is a highly respected backed dish, whose history can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome. Today, the pastry-based pie is generally sweet, but it was once mostly made with a salty taste. There was a reason for this. This crisp crust of the pie, when baked, helped to preserve the meat the pie was filled with.

Have you tasted the apple pie?

Americans claim it is their “own” dish. “There are few things as American as apple pie.” They say. A, but the original apple pie recipes came from England. The original pies were made with unsweetened apples and were put in a cover that had to be thrown away. Yet the apple pie became popular. The first reference to this baked desert appeared in 1589, in the poem Menaphon by poet E. Greece: “They breath is like the steeme of apple pies.”


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What is the history of Waffles?

Now that the waffle-maker is available in stores, you can make crisp and “hole-y” waffles at home! This breakfast food item made with a beautiful pattern has an interesting back story. Ancient Greeks used a tool that resembled today’s waffle iron to make cakes, and the earliest European settles in Greece brought this to the New Americas. Waffles also arrived in the U.S. with the Pilgrims (check out who they are). These famous travelers had tasted this breakfast filler in Holland en route to Massachusetts. Thomas Jefferson, the former U.S. President reportedly brought a waffle iron home from France around 1789. Well, he served waffles to his guests and sparked a fad for waffle parties in the U.S. In the 1930s, a California family smartly combined instant waffle mix and electricity (for the waffle iron) to mass-produce waffles.


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What is the history of Doughnut?

In the mid-19th century, the Dutch were making ‘olykoeks” or oily cakes, balls of cake fried in park fat. These were sweet snacks. The cooks had a problem because the centre of the cakes would not get cooked completely. So they would stuff the centre with fruits or buts, which required no cooking. Another story refers to what Elizabeth Gregory, a New England ship captain’s mother did. She would prepare the dough and pack it for the boat crew going on long voyages. She stuffed the dough with hazelnuts or walnuts and referred to the treats as doughnuts. Her son, Captain Hanson Gregory said he invented the familiar ring shape in 1847, while abroad his ship. The middle of the doughnut was raw, so he punched a hole through the centre with the ship’s tin pepper box. The hole increased the doughnuts’ exposure to the hot oil and ensured that the doughnut was cooked throughout. “I produced the doughnut hole!” claimed Gregory. Another sailor’s story?


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What is the history of pizza?

The word “Pizza” was recorded in English in the early 1800s. English lexicographer John Florio described the pizza as “a small cake or wafer” in his 1598 Italian-English dictionary. The word “pizza” comes from Italian. Some think the Greek pitta (pita, or “bran bread”) is the source of the word. Others say it is from the Langubardic (an ancient German language in northern Italy) bizzo, meaning “bite”.

The modern pizza-an open-faced pie filled with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese-was first made by baker Raffaele Esposito in Naples. In 1889, he made a patriotic pie topped with mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes, ingredients in the colours of the Italian flag, in honour of king Umberto and Queen Margherita’s visit. It is said the Queen enjoyed the pie, and the dish has since been known as Margherita. In the U.S., Italian immigrants sold pizza in their stores, and the first pizzeria was opened in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi on Spring Street in New York City. During World War II. American and European soldiers stationed in Italy tasted pizza and continued to eat it when they returned home.


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What is the history of samosa?

Back in time

At some point, O felt the samosa was following me whenever I want. So, I decided to follow it back in time to discover how and when this unique (and yet common) snack was first made. Records dating back to the 14th Century mention Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta enjoying the hospitality of Mohammed bin Tughlaq. Battuta writes about ‘sambusaks’, which were flour casings packed with minced meat and dry fruits. They were the accompaniment to the pulao. So popular was the sambusak that even Amir Khusro, the Sufi poet, felt compelled to comment on the partiability bestowed on this snack by the elite.

A 15th Century text, “Nimatnama” contains recipes for almost all the dishes served in the court of Sultan Ghilyas al din Khilji. The manuscript mentions eight distinct recipes for making samosas-and none of them contained potatoes, which went on to became synonymous with the samosa. Rightly so, too, because the Portuguese brought potatoes to India only in the early 17th Century.

It’s not Indian

These early records might tempt us to think that the samosa is Indian in origin. But that isn’t true. Arab texts dating back to the 10th Century mention ‘sambusak’, a name derived from the Persian ‘sanbosag’. Travelling merchants who undertook long journeys and huddled around campfires would pack a few of the as sustenance. Two versions were made-backed and fried. The settled communities would bake this snack while the nomadic ones would fry it so it would stay unspoiled for many days. These travelling merchants brought the samosa to India, where it cut across rigid social structures and came to be loved by princes and paupers alike.

The many versions

Samosas are available in all corners of India. The north Indian version is large and stuffed with peas, onions and mashed potatoes. Luqmi, Hyderabad’s take on the samosa, is filled with meat and is flakier than other versions. Karnataka loves its onion and kheema varieties while Delhi offers the traditional potato samosa as well as those filled with moong dal, khoya and meat. Gujarat relishes the patti samosa that makes even cabbage taste delicious! Samosas in other south Indian States can have a variety of fillings, including mashed potatoes mixed in with carrots, curry leaves, cabbage, green chillies and so on. Goan samosas, called chamucas, are mostly meat-filled.

The singada, popular in West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha, is smaller than its north Indian cousin. You would be forgiven for thinking that singadas are samosas called by another name. After all, the shape and the stuffing seem similar. However, the singada is smaller and stuffed with a mixture of cut potatoes (cooked rather than boiled), cauliflower and peas. Occasionally, it can contain peanuts. The stuffing is less spicier than the samosa and the casing is made of all-purpose flour rather than wheat flour. The non-vegetarian singada contains mutton while the sweet version is stuffed with reduced, sweetened milk. The dough is sealed with a clove before being deep friend. The snack is poetically named labongo lotika.

Who would’ve thought that a triangular piece of golden brown pastry had so much history, geography, culture and cuisine embedded in it?


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What is the history of macarons?


Though macaron is one of the most popular French confections, its root can be traced back to Italy. According to some food historians, macaron was brought to France by Catherine di Medici, and Italian noblewoman and the queen of France in the mid-1500s. These Italian macarons were simple cookies made of sugar, almond flour and egg white. It was popularly known as maccherone, Italian for fine dough. Almond macarons were a popular item served to the French King Louis XIV at the Palace of Versalilles. The first written recipe of the macaron appeared in France in the 17th Century. The popularity of the cookies has spread in the region since. However, macarons were eaten only by the elite until the early 1700s.

During the French Revolution, two Carmelite nuns in Nancy, a town in north-eastern France, sold macarons to common people to make some money to support themselves. They came to be known as “Macaron Sisters”. The macarons sold by the nuns were different from the ones prepared today, as they did not have any filling.

Macaron rose to International fame in the 1830s, when Parisian confectioner La Maison Laduree introduced ‘Macaron Parisien’. Laduree and his cousin were among the first to sandwich buttercream, jam and compote (syrups made with fruits) between two macaron cookies. Since then, macarons have been a huge hit not just among the French, but across the world.

Macaron or Macaroon?

Macarons and macaroons are often used interchangeably. However, these are two very different confections. Macarons are made with whipped egg white, almond flour and sugar, whereas macaroons are made with coconut, eggs and sugar. Macarons are light and have a filling, but macaroons are dense and are covered in coconut shavings, with no filling. The history and evolution of the two also vary.

Fun Flavours

From classic French to smoked salmon macarons, there are a wide range of flavours available today. The most popular flavours include pistachio, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, espresso and raspberry.

A few quickly flavours are cheeseburger, green Thai curry, ketchup, wasabi, cheetos, honey lavender, cheesecake, eggnog, creme brulee, and mustard and cauliflower.

Our Own Variant

The Thoothukudi macaroon made in Tamil Nadu is an Indian adaptation of the European macaron. This confection is a reinvented variant made with cashew and shaped into a cone. There is also a Mangaluru version, inspired by the Thoothukudi macaroon.


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How sandwich consumed the world?

Filled with just jam or layered with spicy meat, cheese and vegetables, sandwiches are one of the most popular quick-meal options today.

What exactly is a sandwich?

A sandwich is any food that consists of two slices of bread with a filling in between. This dish is generally eaten as a light meal. However, the definition changes from one place to another. For instance, burritos and hot dogs are also considered sandwiches in New York, but Massachusetts, a nearby State in the U.S., does not accept burritos as sandwiches.


The first sandwich was made in England in the mid-1700s for John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Most food historians believe that Montagu, who was addicted to gambling, spent several hours at the card table and did not even take breaks for meals. During one of his long games, he reportedly asked his cook to prepare something he could eat without getting up from his seat. The cook is said to have prepared a dish with meat stuffed between two slices of bread, and the sandwich was born. Some food historians believe that the cook might have drawn inspiration from the West Asian Mezze platter (a snack tray with a selection of appetizers). Documents such as diary entries from this period suggest that the noble men of the kingdom began consuming sandwiches after it was popularized by Montagu. Other gamblers and busy people eating sandwiches, and by the end of 1760s, it became common. It was noted that by 1789, King George III and his family always took a supply of sandwiches on outings. Though America is currently one of the highest consumers of sandwiches, the dish was not popular in the region until the 1820s. Some believe the Americans intentionally avoided culinary trends from their former colonizer. However, as time passed by, sandwiches were adapted to suit local preferences and were included in American cookbooks and restaurant menus.

One of the most iconic events in the history of sandwiches is the invention of the bread-slicing machine by American inventor Otto Rohwedder in the 1920s. This machine made it possible to get uniform, thin and neat slices of bread that can be packed and sold. By the end of the 20th Century, sandwiches became a global hit, with each region having its own variant.

Across the world

As mentioned above, most countries have their own iconic sandwiches. Here are a few famous ones:

Vietnamese Banh Mi

This consists of a baguette (French bread) split lengthwise and filled with various savoury ingredients and flavoured with cilantro, jalapenos and mayonnaise.

Bombay sandwich

This sandwich consists of cucumber, carrot, lettuce, mayonnaise, processed cheese, boiled potato and a generous layer of cilantro chutney.

Portuguese Francesinha

This rich sandwich is made of ham, sausage and steak layered between sliced bread. The sandwich is topped with melted cheese and a tangy red sauce.

The largest sandwich

The largest sandwich was prepared by Wild Woody’s Chill and Grill, Roseville, Michigan, the U.S. on March 17, 2005. The sandwich weighed about 2,467.5 kg and measured 17.5 inches in thickness and was 12 ft long and 12 ft wide. It contained 68 kg mustard, 468 kg corned beef, 118 kg cheese, 240 kg lettuce and 1,618 kg bread.

In the mood for something quirky?

If you’re bored eating the regular sandwiches, there are a wide range of offbeat options such as, banana and bacon’; banana and mayonnaise; instant noodles; harm, cheese and Oreos; chicken and Nutella; and cheese and maple syrup.


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What is the origin and history of Nuggets?

Chicken nuggets, whether served with burgers or with a dip, are one of the most highly consumed fast foods. Did you know the invention of this iconic snack is also related to the origin of a few other chicken-based dishes such as hot dogs and steaks?

Mincing and moulding

Robert C. Baker, a Poultry Sciences professor at Cornell University, New York, is often credited with the invention of chicken nuggets. Baker was worried about the fall in poultry sales after World War II. Passionate about poultry, he conducted a detailed research on poultry products as processed foods. Baker created a ‘predecessor’ of nugget, known as chicken sticks in 1963.

He made use of minced and moulded chicken, mixed with vinegar and salt.

The vinegar aided in removing the moisture and also bound the meat together.

Baker froze the chicken mixture before coating small nuggets of it with eggs and breadcrumbs. Following this, the nuggets were flash frozen at – 10 degree F, before being deep-fried at a high temperature.

This was the first time someone figured out how to keep ground meat together without a skin. Prior to his research, there was no batter that could remain intact in the process of freezing and deep frying.

Baker continued his research in the field and also invented a few other iconic processed foods such as chicken hot dogs and steaks.

A global hit

Chicken nuggets rose to fame when McDonald’s sold its first McNuggets in 1980. According to reports, McDonald’s was trying to create a successful chicken dish for several years, as the meat was cheap and highly profitable.

However, despite several attempts, they couldn’t create a successful dish. As chicken nuggets began to be consumed across the U.S., McDonald’s set up a team to research and come up with a nuggets recipe for their menu. In a few months, bite-sized chicken chunks, known as McNuggets began to be served in McDonald’s outlets. Following this, several other fast-food joints across the world began serving nuggets. In just a few years, the crispy deep-fried snack shot to global fame.

Peri-peri or parmesan?

There are several types of nuggets available for people with varied dietary preferences, from vegan to paleo and keto. There are also a wide range of quirky flavours such as parmesan, Korean BBQ, pretzel-crusted, honey garlic, coconut, peri-peri, lemon grass and wasabi.

A symbol of our era?

According to experts, in the half-century after 1961, per capita meat and egg consumption has doubled.

This timeline coincides with the invention of several poultry-based processed and frozen foods such as chicken nuggets and hot dogs.

Reports suggest future civilisations will find evidence of the anthropocene through the 50 billion-bird-a-year consumption in the fossil record.


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What is the origin of Hamburger?

Food writer Tori Avey tells us the story of the burger. Hamburgers may well be considered America’s favourite food, she says. You can buy a hamburger anywhere –in small hole-in-the-wall diners, at the drive-through fast food chains, and in high-end restaurants. Worldwide, McDonald’s sells 75 hamburgers per second.

Hamburg, a town in Germany, is where the first hamburger was made. Much later, in the 19th century, beef from German Hamburg cows was minced and combined with garlic, onions, salt and pepper, shaped into patties (without bread or a bun) to make Hamburg beef. Diners loved these burges, but they were expensive because of the price of the Hamburg beef. Then Germans migrated to New York and Chicago, and opened restaurants to make a living. They served an American version of the German burger. During the Industrial Revolution, factory workers were served Hamburg steak from food carts. They were too slippery to eat standing, so a cook sandwiched the meat patty between two slices of bread, and the Hamburg sandwich was born. American soon shortened the name to “hamburger.”

Now, hamburgers are made in a number of ways, including with vegetables. In countries where beef is not part of the traditional diet, it is substituted with potato. So, if you  order a veg burger, be ready to bite into an aloo tikki. The beef hamburger is so popular that environmentalists now fear it is not sustainable. Scientists are trying to grow burger meat in petri dishes in a lab to meet the hamburger demand worldwide.


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