Recently in class we went over the many uses of corn as a food, energy source, and even building material. However, what isn’t that well known is that corn predates the Columbian exchange in the Americas – meaning it is a native plant to the Western hemisphere and wasn’t even introduced to Europe until the 15th century.
For Native Americans, corn – or maize – was a staple crop. The Iroquois of the Northeast cultivated maize in a probiotic relationship with squash and beans. Known as the Three Sisters, the Iroquois would grow maize in a field of squash. Aside from being a staple in the diet, the squash provided added nutrients to the soil. Then, beans were planted and used the stalk of the maize to grow on. Essentially all three foods depended on each other and helped each other grow. For the Iroquois this not only became an advanced and sophisticated growing technique that allowed for large and diverse harvests, but also a staple of their culture.
A staple dish of barbeques, cookouts, and summer diners in Upstate New York is the salt potato. A native dish to Syracuse that isn’t usually found outside of Central New York, salt potatoes are essentially “young” white potatoes that are cooked in a salt broth. Aside from adding flavor, the salt broth raises the temperature of the boiling water, creating a more crunchy potato – different from the soft boiled potatoes found in stews. After the potatoes are cooked the next step is to lather in butter and enjoy with a nice Hoffman Hotdog.
The history of this dish is rooted in Syracuse history. The dish was the product of an influx of Irish immigrants and the salt mines in Syracuse. The Irish would bring bags of potatoes for lunch when they worked at the salt mines in the 19th century. Then they would take excess salt from the mines and start a boil to cook their potatoes.
What is your favorite summer barbeque food?
Aside from being a student here at AU I also work at 2Amy’s Pizzeria on Macomb Street over by the National Cathedral and Giant. 2Amy’s specializes in a certain type of pizza called Neapolitan. Neapolitan is much different than the two American varieties of pizza, deep-dish from Chicago and sliced pizza from New York. Neapolitan pizzas are generally only 10 inches in diameter, making them designed to be personal sized. From an ingredient standpoint, Neapolitan pizza is very strict. The dough most come from highly refined wheat flour, the tomato puree must be raw and come from San Marzano tomatoes, the mozzarella must be di Bufala style (made from the milk of water buffalos), basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. Once the ingredients are laid out on the dough, the pizza is cooked in a dome-shaped wood fire at over 800F for an outstandingly quick 60-90 seconds. Because the amount of sauce must exceed the cheese the pizza tends to have a very soupy center. Therefore, it is suggested not to slice the pizza but to instead eat it with a knife and fork – a big “no-no” in American. Nevertheless, I highly suggest that you try a Neapolitan pizza at one of the many restaurants throughout DC. I find the simple ingredients to be much more fresh and have more flavor than American style pizza.
In light of the recent pancake lab I present my favorite pancake mix, New Hope Mills from my home in Central New York. Starting in 1823, New Hope Mills was an actual water run mill on a creek that produced flour and other completed mixes until the 1990s. My favorite is the Buttermilk Pancake Mix. Like our pancakes in class it includes flour (unbleached wheat, corn, and rye), and multiple agents for the production of carbon dioxide including: powdered buttermilk, calcium phosphate, and bicarbonate of soda and salt. What is your favorite type of pancake mix and what are the ingredients in it to produce carbon dioxide for that fluffy cake?
You may have noticed the addition “Bison Burger” on the menu of your favorite burger place or pub within the past few years. According to the New York Times, this legendary American animal – who almost went extinct decades ago – is making a major comeback with both sheer numbers and human appetite. They now number in the 500,000s across ranches and ranges throughout the heartland. Bisons fill a unique niche in the meat market. They are viewed as natural and hearty, a result of their usual grass-fed origins. Diets like the Paleo Diet really focus on eating Bison meat because of its organic upbringings and the “wild” mystique around them. From a health perspective, Bison is viewed much more favorably than its often over-processed cousin, beef. Bison is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is a very lean meat. Next time you sit down to devour your burger think about trying something new — Bison!
According to a recent study by The Harris Poll, pizza is the number one food Americans eat when they are stressed. The study cites both psychology and chemistry as the causes for this popular comfort food. Since pizza is a staple meal in most children’s diets it reminds us of our youth and caregivers and thus can help soothe our mind. Similarly, the combination of the acid in the tomato sauce, the mozzarella, and the crisp crust creates a great balance which the American Chemical Society calls “highly palatable” and the “food of the gods.” What is your favorite stress food? Are you like 67% of American and go to pizza?