Food and History

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People sometimes ask why I write about food. ‘Because I love it’, is usually the answer they receive. However that is not the whole story.

Early food memories go back to the chocolate pudding my parents bought. Sometimes I wonder how many of those puddings I must have eaten. Enough to keep the factory that produced them open…maybe? Nowadays pudding isn’t on the menu anymore. I got saturated, eventually.

The next food memory that comes to mind is my preference for a specific brand of cheese named ‘Père Joseph’. This cheese has a relatively soft or medium texture and a creamy taste. I must have been 10 or 12 years old when eating it for the first time. One day my father asked what cheese I wanted to eat for lunch, to which I replied ‘Père Joseph’, quite stubbornly. He replied I was quite demanding. At the time it was virtually the only cheese I ate. None of that Brie, Bleu d’Auvergne or Gouda ‘nonsense’ for twelve year old Aypau. That has changed in the mean time.

So, from an early age on I was very specific or overly enthusiastic about a certain type of food. That attitude hasn’t changed: sometimes I will make a detour just to get a specific product such as jumbo olives, or fresh simits (a type of Turkish bread) at the town market.

HISTORY

In 2009 I wrote a bachelor thesis about 16th and 17th century cook books in the area that is Belgium today. I researched links between food and health advice.

One of my professors suggested this subject for my paper. I was quickly convinced that this was the right topic to write about. It turned out to be fun to research. I later realized this made so much sense, given my (so far) lifelong interest in specific foodstuffs and the Aypau blog I started in 2015. This is why I want to share some insights about food and history with you!

These are some types of remarkable advice that circulated in the early modern period (16th and 17th century), in a nutshell:

  • People who ranked lower on the social ladder had to consume food that was found/grew closer to the ground, thus food that was deemed less noble.
    Not eating according to your social position was thought to put your health at risk (H.Pleij, dromen van cocagne).
  • ‘Een notabel boecxken van cokeryen’, published by Thomas Van Der Noot, contains recipes for preparing peacock and swan (kookhistorie.nl)
  • Several cook books were written or compiled by doctors. Why? E. Cockx- Indestege mentions the risk of monotone, heavy-on the stomach or rotten food was real.
  • Herbs and spices were considered as medicinal food, rather than flavour enhancing products
  • Some doctors believed that the nutritional value of fruit&veg was low (H.Sels, de verstandige kok). Before you think ‘O, that’s why folks in renaissance paintings look so pale’, consider this: fruit consumption was not forbidden. However, some authors thought it was safer to cook, dry or use spices to improve the fruit (K. Albala, food in early modern Europe)

A.Y.P

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Coup De Chocolat review

IMG_1334This chocolate that made me feel things I’ve never felt before…

Coup de chocolat makes about three varieties of chocolate, of which I sampled (which is a nice synonym for devoured) the Marcel bar.

Marcel contains 63 % of cacao. It’s colour is Mahogany, which makes it hover between milk chocolate and dark chocolate, colour wise. This bar contains cacaonibs, which  enhances its natural exotic flower flavour. Marcel also has hints of coffeebean. If this was my last meal, my tastebuds would be in heaven.

+ Marcel is vegan

Home made

cashew milk

As promised in the previous post I’m sharing some home made food and drink stories as part of the Less Waste journey (part 3) this month.

  1. Home made cashew milk

The plant based milk I usually buy comes in quantities of 1L. I often don’t use it completely within 10 days and end up pouring at least a quarter of it away. Because I want to avoid both this and the (plant) milk carton it seemed like a good idea to make my own cashew milk!

Let a cup of cashew nuts soak in a bowl of water overnight. Mix them in a blender. My blender is small and simple but it does the trick. No need to mix it into a paste, a crumbly texture will do. 
Add water and pour this mixture through a cheesecloth (or a clean cotton kitchen towel) into another container. You now have cashew milk! Sweeten as desired (with aguave syrup for instance, stir well). I love to add some vanilla to this! You can re-purpose the leftover cashew ‘waste’ by making raw cashew balls for instance ( tip from sustainably vegan).

+ home made cashew milk is tasty and I’m always proud to make something from scratch

– this version doesn’t last as long as the plant milk from the shop, which doesn’t contains any additives either. My milk goes off after 3 days : (
I either have to use it asap or start meal prepping: for instance make the plant milk ahead to  bake pancakes/dessert/…
 It doesn’t come cheaper than buying plant milk from the shop

2. Pizzzza, mmm

A quick and practical solution is to buy the dough ready-made. However, in my supermarket it comes wrapped in plastic. So, time to get creative and make some dough!

The recipe: ( for 2 people or 1 very hungry person). Gently mix 125 gr of flour with 3,5 gr of yeast and add 125 ml of hot water. Knead this mixture and let it rest/rise for +- half an hour. Knead it again for a few minutes and roll it out. Garnish the pizza with passata (tomato puree) and the toppings you like (mozzarella, basil leaves, cherry tomatoes,…). Sprinkle grated cheese over the pizza and bake in the oven for +- 30 min on 200°C. Note: every oven is different and my pizza needed to bake longer than what most recipes recommend (might also be due to the fact that my dough was too wet). So remain in the kitchen and test with a fork or skewer to see if the dough is baked enough.

+ It tastes gooood!

– I got a bit too enthusiastic when adding water to the dough and ran out of flour to correct this. Thus the dough was a bit too wet. Even though (get it? : ) I added the necessary yeast the dough didn’t rise. But, as mentioned above it tasted remarkably good. I told you it would be trial and error…
My countertop was a mess, I literally had to scrape bits of dough off and force the scouring sponge on the kitchen utensils to clean them properly

Next time: Time to get pretty: Sustainable Cosmetics

See you next month!

Less Waste

boodschappen2017 is the year during which I took (small) but active steps towards producing less waste. It’s a way of thinking and acting I will continue this year.

I deliberately don’t call this journey Zero Waste even though that concept sounds catchier. The aim is to figure out how Less Waste will fit into my life. I believe that starting small, and figuring out what truly works will help make this attitude a long-term one.

The steps I’ve taken so far centre around food, beauty products and buying fewer and fewer plastic wrapped items. The latter is still a ‘mindbreaker’ though.

Inspiration

The first time I heard about Zero Waste was through a documentary by Belgian author and speaker Steven Vromman. the concept used in the documentary was called Low Impact. At the time (about 10 years ago) I wasn’t practising Zero Waste, but it did stay somewhere in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to a few years later and I notice youtube videos about this topic. Some of them I can draw inspiration from such as Sustainable Vegan’s channel. Others channels such as Trash is for tossers on the other hand are so evolved (3 years of plastic in a little jar!) that as a beginner it’s not easy to relate to. Even though I admire her (Trash is for tossers) efforts.

So I decided to figure out a tailor made approach, accompanied by trial and error, which you can read about below and in the articles to come.

No start from zero?

I believe it’s important to look at what attitudes you’ve already adopted before making shiny new plans. This also helps to not be too hard on yourself if the road is rocky in the beginning (in my case it is).

  1. I mostly use the bicycle when shopping for groceries. This is realistic because the 3 medium sized foodshops in my village are near my house (5 minute bicycle drive). So, no fuel needed there (which I consider a part of this journey).
  2. Maybe you’ve been using cotton shoppingbags or re-usable plastic shopping bags for months/years?It helps!
  3. No paper please: by placing a sticker on your mailbox that reads ‘no advertising please’ you’ll receive less paperwork. Easy peasy

Next time

Like I mentioned before buying fewer plastic wrapped goods is still quite a challenge so I tried making certain goods at home. Find out what mischief I’ve been up to in the kitchen in February’s post.Feel free to share your experiences with Zero Waste in the comments!

 

Was 2017 kind to you?

Djúpalónssandur beach in Iceland – 2017

All in all this year has been kind to me, although there were some moments that were quite challenging: for instance I was made redundant in the summer and the driving lessons I recently took were a bit scary sometimes (especially the teacher’s stories – or threaths – about theoretical frontal collisions).
However, I learned some positive and useful things and decided to adopt some new attitudes. One of those is to eat more vegetables, fruit, chickpeas, lentils etc…in a fun way. Instagram is a good source of inspiration for this, I’m completely pro the smoothie bowl trend for instance.
To paint a complete picture I also have to admit giving in to occasional sugar cravings. During the fall I compensated this by cycling the day after a craving session and during this season by consuming the necessary fruit & veg.

Several friends and acquaintances moved abroad this year (and the previous one). This provides opportunities both to travel and visit them, so I went to Stuttgart during the spring. Home to the porsche museum and promotor of Ritter Sport chocolate.

I visited central Europe for the first time: destination Warschau, the capital of Poland. The summers get hot, so if you like getting your tan on then this is a place to do that. Warschau has several great parks, ideal for walking and history is everywhere in this city. The food is good too, if you want to know more about this topic then read the blogpost on Polish pastry.

One of the most special and amazing events this year was my short trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. This country left me speechless and made me appreciate nature more. Iceland also treasures its history, you can easily find detailed information going back centuries about this island and its people.

What I would like for 2018

I would like to take more courageous steps, especially in the field of work. Thinking out of the box is not the big challenge, it’s acting out of the box. So, yes: #goaypau!

One of the topics that caught my attention in 2017 is the movement or attitude to produce less waste. This is my new year’s resolution because it seems realistic. And now that I’ve written about it I can be held accountable. I’ll publish my experience with this topic in January/February. It will be a combination of fun and necessary, with trial and error.

What I don’t want for 2018

What I don’t want to see next year are hate and exclusion. One may think: O, but those things have been around forever. Correct, but I’ve seen too much ignorance during the last year. Especially online. This hate and ignorance wasn’t directed at me personally but towards people whose work I appreciate and folks who simply don’t deserve that sort of treatment. I’m also done with reading false information. Information that sometimes deliberately twists facts and shows prejudice against people with a certain cultural, educational, ethnical,…background.

Polish Pastry & other good food

The autumn leaves are plentiful, so are the opportunities to wrap oneself in a warm blanket and to ‘bond’ with the fireplace (from a safe distance ofcourse). And…to indulge in comfort food. Which reminds me of a holiday in Poland earlier this year: Polish pastry and food is also just right to satisfy autumnal food cravings.

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Droźdżówka

(pronounced somewhere along the lines of drosjchoevka).

This is the first pastry I sampled in Warsaw. As you can tell from the picture, it looks like donut dough covered in sugar glaze. A sugary treat that is not too greasy, simple but tasty.

Pączki

This pastry tastes a bit like a beignet (deepfried pastry). Pączki pastries are round and exist in several sizes. You can eat (e.g.) versions that are filled with marmelade or Pączki covered in sugar glaze. of I tried the mini version at A. Blikle, a known chain of patissiers in Poland.

 

Smoked Cheese

You like things with a twist and cheese shouldn’t taste boring: then try some smoked cheese. I sampled a smoked mozarella ball from the supermarket, it tastes good in a salad or in a sandwich. I don’t recommend seasoning because its taste is already quite pronounced.

 

Pierogi

When visiting Poland or reading about its culinary offers this is one of the first dishes you will notice. Pierogi are made of dough, filled with your choice of ingredient, folded in two and then fried. Again, a dish that is simple and which satisfies your hunger efficiently. I tasted the Pierogi ruskie (with cheese filling), served with sour cream. Pierogi with meat or sweet pierogi with red fruit,… are also an option.

A.Y.P