Monday, July 2, 2012

Origin of the Foods in Your 4th of July Cookout

When you sit down to eat a traditional 4th of July cookout meal, on Wednesday. Take a look at each of the foods on your paper plate. The origins of this all American meal might just surprise you! 

While you are munching that sweet juicy slice of cold watermelon, consider this. Watermelons come from South Africa. By the time King Tutankamun was buried in 1323 B.C., watermelons were under cultivation in Ancient Egypt. Watermelon must have been a favorite of the young Egyptian King. The seeds were sent into the afterlife with him.

Your delicious corn on the cob was domesticated in the Americas, probably in Mexico, and the cultivation of corn soon spread to North America. The Spanish carried corn seeds back with them from the New World in the 1500's. The Pilgrims were taught how to cultivate corn by the Native Americans of the Northeast.

Potato salad is a 4th of July staple. The potatoes in your helping of potato salad come from Central America, where the Maya domesticated them. The Spanish also carried them back to Europe in the 1500's. The mayonnaise and mustard in the potato salad both originated in France and the recipes were carried to England by refugees from the French Revolution in 1784. The cucumbers for the relish ingredient come all the way from India. Their cultivation was spread by the Romans. Pickling is an ancient art, with recipes found in Ancient Mesopotamia. The word pickle comes from the Dutch pekel, meaning brine. Eggs of course come from chickens. Chickens originated from Jungle Fowl in Southeast Asia. They were traded to Mesopotamia from Mohenjo-Daro in India. Chickens were introduced to England by stone age traders. The Romans brought improved chicken breeds, such as the Sussex.

A hamburger steak sandwich was on the menu of the Tylorean Alps Restaurant at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Hamburger referred to a style of meat preparation from Hamburg, Germany. Walter Anderson, a cook at White Castle, invented the hamburger bun. White Castle was the first to sell the hamburger as we know it, beginning in 1921. 

Enjoy your 4th of July Cookout! Those well known, traditional cookout foods have a lengthy history of their own that is far older than the 236 years that our country has been around. 

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