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My Favorite Foods

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History of Culture and Cuisine
My Favorite Foods

Mangos Mangos have been cultivated in South Asia for thousands of years and arrived to East Asia between the 4th and 5th centuries BC. By the 10th century AD, its culture had begun in East Africa. The 14th century Moroccan traveler, Ibn Battuta, reported it at Mogadishu Mangos then came later to Brazil, the West Indies and Mexico, where an appropriate climate allows its growth. “Selecting the ripeness of mangos can be determined by either smelling or squeezing” (Fresh mangos, 2011). A ripe mango will have a full, fruity aroma emitting from the stem end. Mangos can be considered ready to eat when slightly soft to the touch and yielding to gentle pressure, like a ripe peach. “The best flavored fruit have a yellow tinge when ripe; however, color may be red, yellow, green, orange or any combination” (Fresh mangos, 2011). Mangoes are widely used in cuisine. Sour, unripe mangoes are used in chutneys, pickles, or side dishes, or may be eaten raw with salt, chili, or soy sauce. Mango is used to make juices, smoothies, ice cream, fruit bars, pies, or a sweet and spicy chili paste. It is popular on a stick dipped in hot chili powder and salt or also as a main ingredient in fresh fruit combinations. “In Central America, mango is either eaten green mixed with salt, vinegar, black pepper and hot sauce, or ripe in various forms”(Fresh mangos, 2011). Toasted and ground pumpkin seed with lime and salt are used in their country when eating green mangoes. Some people also add soy sauce or chili sauce. Pieces of mango can be mashed and used as a topping on ice cream or blended with milk and ice as milkshakes.
Shrimp
The Shrimp’s name was derived from the Middle English word shrimpe that meant "pygmy”. “History shows that as far back as the 7th century travelers like Marco Polo mentioned Shrimp being a staple part of the East Asian diet”(so cal fish farm, 2011). In Louisiana, harvesting of shrimp dates back to the 17th century where bayou residents used seines up to 600 feet in diameter to scoop up the delicacy. Currently the US harvests over half million pounds of shrimp and imports another 200 million pounds a year, more than any other country. Typically, there are more than 2,000 species of shrimp in the world but in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic waters there are five species of shrimp that are commercially harvested. Four of those species are recognized by their shell color (pink, white, brown, and royal red) and the fifth specie is known as the “Rock shrimp”. It is a smaller deep-water shrimp with a tough, rock-hard shell. It is common for Shrimp to be mistaken for Prawns. “In some areas, jumbo shrimp are referred to as prawns, but the prawn is actually a completely different species in the lobster family” (so cal fish farm, 2011). Shrimp can be caught in the wild or farm-raised. Shrimp that is caught in its natural habitat are found in bays, estuaries, and oceans. Shrimp can be grown in a controlled environment in Aquaculture. Shrimp grown in Aquaculture are also known as pond-raised, cultured, or maricultured. “The eggs and larvae of the Shrimp are gathered from their natural environment or grown in hatcheries after removed from a female’s brood stock”(so cal fish farm, 2011).The shrimp are then raised to maturity in tanks or ponds. Worldwide, over 300 species of shrimp have commercial value, but only a few species are important to the market in the U.S. They basically fall under three groups: cold water shrimp, warm water shrimp, and freshwater shrimp.
Cake
“Cake is a term with a long history” (food timeline, 2011). The word is of Viking origin, from the Old Norse kaka, and denotes a baked flour confection sweetened with sugar or honey; it is mixed with eggs and often, but not invariably, with milk and fat; and it has a porous texture from the mixture rising during cooking. It is not surprising that the frontiers between cake and bread, biscuit and bun are indistinct. The progenitor of all is bread in its simplest form. As techniques for baking and leavening developed and eating patterns changed, what were originally regarded as forms of bread came to be seen as categories of their own and named accordingly. “Certain Roman breads, enriched with eggs and butter, must have achieved a cakelike consistency and thus approached one of these indistinct frontiers” (food timeline, 2011).

Cookies The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to date back to 7th century Persia A.D. (now Iran), one of the first countries to cultivate sugar (luxurious cakes and pastries in large and small versions were well known in the Persian Empire). According to historians, sugar originated either in the lowlands of Bengal or elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Sugar then spreads to Persia and then to the Eastern Mediterranean. With the Muslim invasion of Spain, the Crusades, and the developing spice trade, the cooking techniques and ingredients of Arabia spread into Northern Europe. The English, Scotch, and Dutch immigrants originally brought the first cookies to the United States. Our simple butter cookies strongly resemble the English teacakes and the Scotch shortbread. The Southern colonial housewife of America took great pride in her cookies, almost always called simply tea cakes. These were often flavored with butter, sometimes with the addition of a few drops of rose water. “There are hundreds upon hundreds of cookie recipes in the United States.” ” No one book could hold the recipes for all the various types of cookies.” (What’s cooking America, 2011)The geographic development of the United States was reflected in popular cookie recipes. The railroad's expansion in the early 1800s gave cooks access to coconuts from the South. Later in the century, oranges from the West were included in many recipes. Around the turn of the century, the Kellogg brothers in Michigan invented cornflakes and cookies were made with cereal products. In the 1930s, with the advent of electric refrigerators, icebox cookies reached new heights of popularity.

Gumbo Gumbo has a rich history and is often called the greatest contribution of Louisiana kitchens to American cuisine (gumbo cooking, 2011). This dish has its origins in Louisiana during the 18th century when French cooking techniques provided the beginning with bouillabaisse. The native Choctaw's file' powder and local seafood were a major addition to the local cuisine. African American imported okra found its way into the Louisiana kitchens, and provided gumbo with its name (gumbo is the African word for okra). Bell peppers, celery and onions also known as “the trinity” were brought to the table by Spanish colonists. There is much speculation as to how gumbo as we know it today evolved into its current form. Those native Louisianans who have lived along the bayous and swamps will understand gumbo history and its evolution. “In the beginning this tasty elixir was a simple soup using meats and vegetables in water” (gumbo cooking, 2011). Then at some point okra was added because it was a common vegetable available in late summer. It was discovered that okra boosted the flavor but more importantly it added some texture in the way of a thickening agent. Later it was discovered that flour could be used to thicken. Still later and probably quite by accident someone found that flour browned in pig lard added a great color, texture and taste. This is where roux first made its appearance and changed gumbo history. “Since then roux has become the dominant agent to thicken this famous Louisiana dish as nothing can match the colors and flavors or the deep and hearty taste and texture gumbo lovers seek”(gumbo cooking, 2011). In the last 30 years, spicy hot has been added as an optional feature to gumbo. Up until that time spicy was not a feature of gumbo except for a few drops of Louisiana Hot Sauce or Tabasco added to a served bowl. These special Louisiana sauces were added not for the hot and spicy but for the subtle flavors of the vinegar and pepper sauce. In modern times the popularity of celebrity chefs and their use of cayenne peppers and other hot seasonings has created an interest in spicy versions. “But history shows us that in the South Louisiana Cajun and Creole cultures a correct gumbo is made without the spice.” “Cooks learned to infuse intense flavors by using fresh ingredients, roux, okra or file' and added smoked lean meats to provide some zip and zing” (gumbo cooking, 2011).

References
"The Food Timeline: Cake History Notes." Food Timeline: Food History & Vintage Recipes. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. .
"What's Cooking America Kitchen Store Provided by Shopping Hevanet." What's Cooking America, Summer Fruits, Summer Vegetables, Summer Melons, Watermelon Recipes, Corn on the Cob, Tomato Recipes. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. .
"Gumbo History and Origins." Authentic Louisiana Gumbo Recipes and Cooking Instructions from a Real Cajun. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. .
"All about Mangos Featuring Mango Recipes, Mango History, Eating Mangoes, Selecting mangos." A Mango Web Site. All about Mangos Featuring Mango Recipes. Fresh Mangos for Your Health. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. .
"Shrimp History." Socalfishfarm.com. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. .

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