The ancient Greeks invented the hibatchi, thus holding the first barbecue.
The natives of the Caribbean Islands use allspice along with salt to preserve meat. They call this preserved meat “boucan.” Pirates who plied the waters of the Caribbean ate a lot of this preserved meat, hence they came to be called “boucaneers.”
Roman soldiers were paid partly in salt, giving rise to the saying, “He’s not worth his salt.”
The saffron crocus only blooms for 2 weeks in September when the stamen, which is also known as filaments or threads, is harvested.
During the Elizabethan era the lower classes shifted their drinking habits from beer to ale.
During the Middle Ages you could buy 7 oxen with 1 pound of nutmeg.
One tablespoon of paprika equals four lemons’ worth of vitamin C.
Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife, brought the Spanish fashion of eating salads with the main meal to England.
In England the Elizabethan nobility drank over forty million gallons of wine per year.
The ancient Greeks invented the frying pan and so gave the world the first fried foods.
Vodka wasn’t drunk much outside of Russia until the 1950s, when it caught on as a mixer for cocktails.
On September 25, 1660, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary the first mention in English of anyone drinking a cup of tea.
Gingerbread was first made on the ancient Greek island of Rhodes and was spread throughout Europe by Roman soldiers.
In London in 1652, the first coffeehouse opened in a shed in St. Michael Cornhill courtyard.
Kellogg introduced Rice Krispies in 1928.
During the Middle Ages, one lb. of pepper could pay an English laborer for 2 weeks of work, bribe an official, or secure a bride. It was a very good dowry.
Saffron, cinnamon, and coriander were major components in ancient Greek medicine.
During the Middle Ages anyone caught adulterating saffron was burned at the stake.
General Mills introduced Cheerios in 1941.
The term “milkshake” was first used in print in 1885, and referred to an alcoholic whiskey drink that has been described as a “sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat.”
Up until the mid-1800s, marshmallow candy was used medicinally. Doctors extracted juice from the roots of the marsh-mallow plant and cooked it with egg whites and sugar, then whipped it into a foamy meringue. This hardened, and the resulting candy soothed children’s sore throats. Eventually, advanced manufacturing processes replaced the root juice with gelatin, which eliminated any healing properties.
The first James Bond novel, Casino Royal, came out in 1953. It contained more descriptions of food than of killing people. For the British reading public still on food ration coupons, this was a great fantasy escape.
Ginger was the 1st Oriental spice to be transplanted in the New World, and ginger cookies had become so much a part of American food that by the time of the American Revolution, they formed part of the Continental Army’s rations.
In ancient Greece, students wore sprigs of rosemary in their hair while they studied, because they believed rosemary stimulated cerebral circulation, thereby improving concentration and memory.
The Chinese were the first to import cloves, and no one could approach the Chinese emperor without first chewing cloves to clear his breath.
The Aztecs had something like chili powder, but the modern mixture was invented in the U.S., in the 1860s by an immigrant Englishman trying to create a substitute for curry powder.
In ancient times mustard seeds symbolized fiery potential. In 330 BC, Darius, king of Persia, challenged Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia to battle. Darius presented Alexander with a sack of countless sesame seeds, each seed representing a Persian soldier. Alexander’s response was a much-smaller sack of mustard seed. His soldiers, though fewer in number, were too hot to tangle with.
Brewing was the only profession in Mesopotamia that was protected by a female deity.
Turkeys were first introduced to England in the 1520s and were rare specimens until the reign of Elizabeth I, when their value as a roasting bird was widely recognized and their popularity suddenly increased.
Frozen fish fingers, called fish sticks in America, first went on sale in Britain in 1955. They were originally going to be called “frozen cod pieces."
Frying was the most common way to prepare tomatoes before it was discovered in the early 19th century that tomatoes were good for sauces, soups, salads, and “ketchups.”
Wild rice is the only native North American grain. It is native to the lake regions of the upper Midwest and is not really a rice. It is more closely related to wheat, even though it is grown in the water. Wild rice was originally used by the settlers for the stuffing of wild game and as a substitute for regular rice.
Edwardian butlers were advised that Champagne should be cooled in the following manner: Lay the bottle down in a basin and cover with a handful of broken-up ice. Sprinkle it with a little salt and cover it with a piece of damp flannel. Always begin chilling at least two hours before you intend to serve.
In the U.S., smoothies first became popular in the 1920s and ’30s after the advent of the electric countertop blender.
The Pharisees, of the Holy Lands, paid their tithes in mint, dill, and cumin seeds.
Tabasco sauce, which is made with red, ripe peppers that are ground and soaked in vinegar and left to ferment in oak casks for 3 years, was first made in Louisiana by a bankrupt Confederate banker as a way to make money.
The Aztecs and the Incas raised the ancestors of modern bronze turkeys as well as Muscovy ducks, the only native waterfowl that was domestically raised.