The many interesting stories behind the evolution of culinary items reveal many of our claims. These include the association of pizza being America’s favorite food to sushi containing raw fish. Yet, others, like chicken balti, are thought to be purely Indian cuisines. Of these interesting foods, some of them do not share their literal meaning with our modern understanding.
Sushi, one of the oldest foods, originated in China with the intent of preserving the food, namely fish. What they would do was put salted fish in fermented rice to keep the fish preserved. So whenever the fish were to be eaten, it had to be taken out of rice. Since modern-day sushi may also come with rice, many people have wrongly suspected sushi containing raw fish.
Chow-mein refers to fried soft noodles with vegetables and meat. While the word in itself is wide with various varieties of chow-mein, remaining the chow of the word is a blunder. The word mein means noodles. If you order mein, you will be ambiguous and might be asked which mein. It is the word chow, meaning fried, which will make sense. On the other hand, lo-mein is not fried!
Balti is a popular culinary dish traced to South Asia, though originally it came from Pakistan. But what is a balti? It is a pot where the meat that is to be cooked is sprinkled with the spices. Balti means bucket in South Asia and is commonly used for washing or taking a bath. What is more interesting is that balti was introduced to India by the Portuguese. The word balti comes from the Portuguese term balde.
A croissant is a pastry roll found commonly in bakeries. Its name, croissant, for its crescent shape, is attached with fabulous tales. Of these, a believable one puts that the crescent shape originally referred to the crescent symbol on the medieval Turkish flag. In 1683, the Turks were laying a siege to Vienna and were defeated; the bakers of Vienna came with the croissant to mark the defeat of the Turkish army.
American food chains are popular for pizzas, though pizza is an Italian cuisine. Pizza and ketchup live together, and both of them live on tomatoes. In fact, tomatoes define pizza. When tomatoes were found in the “New World,” they were sent back to Europe. But the red colour added fear of tomato being deadly, yet the poor in Italy took the risk. Tomato on bread was their food, which soon evolved into pizza. What we eat now is food for poor peasants. It is true that more and more people are becoming poor.
A piece of sweet dough, mostly ring-shaped or filled with cream, doughnuts appear to have interesting origins. The pilgrims from Holland brought it with them and would call them oly-keok, oily cakes. In shape, they were like the filled doughnuts of today, but not cooked completely from inside. It is said that a sailor punched his doughnuts into the nail of his ship to give the modern shape.
Just like doughnuts were originally “oily cakes” in Dutch, cookies were “small cakes” in Dutch. Looking back further, you can trace the roots of cookies to Persia, where sugar was common.
Where does cake come from? Well, if you believe cake is sweet bread, then it’s ancient. The modern cake really is an evolution of sweet bread – and sweet bread could be bread with honey because sugar was a later phenomenon.
Tortilla is a flat bread made of maize or wheat. When the Spanish came to South America, they found people making flatbreads. The Spanish, in their region, called it tortilla, coming from torta, meaning flat cake. In Spain and South America, it still might still mean the flat cake. But just north to South America, tortilla means flatbread.
Put some meat, vegetables, sauce, and cheese on a tortilla – and here you have a taco. It literally means “light lunch” in Spanish. If you have everything in it, how come it is so light?