Historic (rec.food.historic) Discussing and discovering how food was made and prepared way back when--From ancient times down until (& possibly including or even going slightly beyond) the times when industrial revolution began to change our lives.

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Old 03-02-2004, 02:20 PM
Frogleg
 
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On Mon, 02 Feb 2004 11:36:04 -0600, Olivers
wrote:

We (hosts) serve to ourselves and to guests sweetened
foods/sauces/condiments as part of ancient cultural memory, that we were of
an affluence which allowed us to purchase sweeteners (in a time when sugars
were vastly more expensive/harder to get than today).


My theory is that calorie-dense foods (fats and sugars) were the most
desirable when simple survival was the goal. Sharing these prizes
would be nurturing and hospitable.

Certainly, in the US South, "sweetening" has cultural/societal
implications. Pooor man's cornbread remains sugarless unto this day,


Don't think so. Sorghum and cane are common in old-time Southern
cooking.

while
most of the current mixes - the cornbreads of even modest affluence - are
so heavily sugared as to be unpalatable. "Sweet" tea, massively pre-
sugared, is a typical restaurant and home manifestation of "moving up"
among the lower and lower middle class venues in which it is most often
available. Unsugared hams are hard to find, and most of the pink loaves
currently purveyed are more sweet than they are "hammy".


Regional, not class, preferences. Many Southerners put sugar in a lot
of things many Californians don't. Southern iced tea is normally very
sweet; it's unsweetened in other regions. Smithfield, VA, the center
of much classic ham production, produces mostly salt-cured products,
'though 'honey-cured' items are available.

The OP inquired about a "North American" fondness for sugar, which I
think is a mistaken impression. *I* wonder about the inclusion of
sugar in many dishes in Southern US cooking, But it's mostly, AFAIK, a
regional preference.

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Old 03-02-2004, 02:35 PM
Virginia Mescher
 
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"Bryan J. Maloney" wrote in message . 193.32...
Olivers nattered on
:

We (hosts) serve to ourselves and to guests sweetened
foods/sauces/condiments as part of ancient cultural memory, that we
were of an affluence which allowed us to purchase sweeteners (in a
time when sugars were vastly more expensive/harder to get than today).


And in the present day is a symbol of poverty, given that salt, sugar, and
fat are the hallmarks of the lower-class/prole diet.

venues in which it is most often available. Unsugared hams are hard
to find


But thank the Powers that Be that they still can be found. (Indeed, even
unsmoked--just cured and aged.)


I wrote a two part article on sugar for Food History News. The
article covered a bit of sugar history, the various processes used in
the 19th century to produce different types of sugar, how to make your
own sugar loaf, and a glossary of the various types of sugar.

Virginia Mescher

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Old 03-02-2004, 05:21 PM
Olivers
 
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Frogleg muttered....

On Mon, 02 Feb 2004 11:36:04 -0600, Olivers
wrote:

We (hosts) serve to ourselves and to guests sweetened
foods/sauces/condiments as part of ancient cultural memory, that we
were of an affluence which allowed us to purchase sweeteners (in a
time when sugars were vastly more expensive/harder to get than today).


My theory is that calorie-dense foods (fats and sugars) were the most
desirable when simple survival was the goal. Sharing these prizes
would be nurturing and hospitable.

Certainly, in the US South, "sweetening" has cultural/societal
implications. Pooor man's cornbread remains sugarless unto this day,


Don't think so. Sorghum and cane are common in old-time Southern
cooking.


But most regionallly marketed Southern cornbread "mixes" contain no sugar
(and white meal products are popular), while the national brands are
heavily sugared (and overwhelmingly from yellow cornmeal). Cornbread
certainly continues to be a food primarily eaten in lower income
househholds (or those where family members were raised in lower income or
rural environments). As for sorghum and cane syrups, they are for putting
on cornbread, not in it...(ahhh, memories of my grandmother's favorite,
cornbread crumbled in buttermilk, with just a dash of syrup atop...)



while
most of the current mixes - the cornbreads of even modest affluence -
are so heavily sugared as to be unpalatable. "Sweet" tea, massively
pre- sugared, is a typical restaurant and home manifestation of
"moving up" among the lower and lower middle class venues in which it
is most often available. Unsugared hams are hard to find, and most of
the pink loaves currently purveyed are more sweet than they are
"hammy".


Regional, not class, preferences.


Any Southerner worth his salt (or sugar) can predict (by "Class")just which
restaurant or household will serve sweetened tea. Move up the
income/affluence/segmented market appeal ladder and unsweetened tea doesn't
appear (in resturant or household). Of course it's regional, but heavily
defined by income and environment within the region.

Many Southerners put sugar in a lot
of things many Californians don't. Southern iced tea is normally very
sweet; it's unsweetened in other regions.


Your knowledge of the US South is obviously inadequate. We could drive
down most any Southern street and pick out restaurants (or homes) where
pre-sweetened tea will be offered.

Smithfield, VA, the center
of much classic ham production, produces mostly salt-cured products,
'though 'honey-cured' items are available.


"Smithfield" these days being a brand name for a modestly priced line of
prepared pork products, the "Smithfield" brand hams in most meat counters
are as heavily dosed with water and sugar as are the Hormels, etc.. Now,
if you're talking of dry-cured Smithfield-style hams, whether from Virginia
or even Missouri, you're talking about a tiny fraction of 1% of the ham
market, barely a blip, as most folks would turn up there noses at the
traditional and historic versions of ham. Your market will have "honey
cured" or "Maple sugar smoked", etc., but almost every label will reveal a
transfusion of sugar amidst the water enema that most hams receive.


The OP inquired about a "North American" fondness for sugar, which I
think is a mistaken impression. *I* wonder about the inclusion of
sugar in many dishes in Southern US cooking, But it's mostly, AFAIK, a
regional preference.


.....and pumpkin pie, a "Yankee" dish, is not a vegetable laced with sugar
to make it more appealing/palatable? Are not dozens of Czech and German
recipes heavily sugared? British "savory" condiments, a trademark of an
otherwise bland cuisine?

As for sugar being cheap....for po'folks in the South refined sugar
remained relatively expensive until post-Depression years, while syrups,
sorghum/cane/molasses are not adaptable to many baked goods.

Just as my grandmother, a kitchen-master when it came to scratch biscuits
(or beaten, cheese, sweet potator, etc. varieties) or a dozen different
types of cornbread, hastened to the grocery to buy "store bought light
bread" when I was coming to lunch on school days, demonstrating that she,
raised an orphan on a hardscrabble West Texas ranch, had "moved up", she
saved a number of heavily sugared recipes for "company". My grandfather,
born in the Centennial Year, 1876, was even truer to his roots. He limited
his intake of "canned goods" to peaches and tomatoes, preferably from the
can with a spoon, but preferred condensed or evaporated milk in his coffee,
both habits "pure cowboy".

"Southern" is a category of cuisine which encompasses vast varieties,
separate by affluence, urban or rural (and a myriad of subregions and areas
thereof), and certainly ethnic and racial considerations. Even "sugared"
tea, a caste/class offering is far more likely to be encountered in parts
of Georgia than in Texas West of the Brazos, although here in Central
Texas, I can think of dozens of resturants with side-by-side metal tea
dispenser, one sweet, one "plain". Most of them (with only one exception
that comes to mind, a chain of delis), don't need a sign to indicate that
"sweet tea" is available. The building, the address and the vehicles in
the parking lot provide good circumstantial evidence of what lurks within.

On the otherhand, the Resort at Amelia Island, the Inn on Turtle Creek, the
Club at Augusta, Ponte Vedra, Galatoire's, Brennan's, Ruth's Chris, etc.
would make you a glass of sweet tea, but are unlikely to have it in an urn
or on the menu.

TMO
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Old 03-02-2004, 10:00 PM
Frogleg
 
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On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 11:21:06 -0600, Olivers
wrote:

Frogleg muttered....


Certainly, in the US South, "sweetening" has cultural/societal
implications. Pooor man's cornbread remains sugarless unto this day,


Don't think so. Sorghum and cane are common in old-time Southern
cooking.


But most regionallly marketed Southern cornbread "mixes" contain no sugar
(and white meal products are popular), while the national brands are
heavily sugared (and overwhelmingly from yellow cornmeal). Cornbread
certainly continues to be a food primarily eaten in lower income
househholds (or those where family members were raised in lower income or
rural environments). As for sorghum and cane syrups, they are for putting
on cornbread, not in it...(ahhh, memories of my grandmother's favorite,
cornbread crumbled in buttermilk, with just a dash of syrup atop...)


Can't say authoritatively. I've never bought cornbread 'mix.'. I can't
think that sugar was ever a particularly expensive ingredient in the
US.

Many Southerners put sugar in a lot
of things many Californians don't. Southern iced tea is normally very
sweet; it's unsweetened in other regions.


Your knowledge of the US South is obviously inadequate. We could drive
down most any Southern street and pick out restaurants (or homes) where
pre-sweetened tea will be offered.


Precisely. It's a regional preference. Sweetened (iced) tea by default
in the south; unsweetened in other areas.

Smithfield, VA, the center
of much classic ham production, produces mostly salt-cured products,
'though 'honey-cured' items are available.


"Smithfield" these days being a brand name for a modestly priced line of
prepared pork products,


Smithfield hams are distinct products processed ('though not
prorduced) within the city limits of Smithfield, Virginia. They are
*not* products of a single company, but rather a local association.

http://www.smithfieldfoods.com/Consumer/Timeline/

"1926 -- To protect the good name of Smithfield products, Virginia
enacted a law defining Genuine Smithfield Meats as peanut-fed hogs
raised in Virginia or North Carolina and cured in the town limits. In
1968, it was amended to include hogs raised elsewhere."

The OP inquired about a "North American" fondness for sugar, which I
think is a mistaken impression. *I* wonder about the inclusion of
sugar in many dishes in Southern US cooking, But it's mostly, AFAIK, a
regional preference.


....and pumpkin pie, a "Yankee" dish, is not a vegetable laced with sugar
to make it more appealing/palatable? Are not dozens of Czech and German
recipes heavily sugared? British "savory" condiments, a trademark of an
otherwise bland cuisine?


Again, what's your point? Desserts contain sugar? Yep. I guess they
often do. You got me there. Are you saying that all veg dishes in
North America contain sugar? I don't think so. All meats? Nope. All
ham? Not AFAIK. All jams? Not even those.

The OP inquired about an perceived "North American" fondness for
sugared/sweet foods in relation to a recipe for mac&cheese. I replied
that sweet salad dressings and the addition of sugar to, say, green
beans cooked with a little side meat seemed odd to me, too. Regional
preference. Southern US. Not typical to North America. Not anything to
do with 'class' of food. Not even universal in the Southern US.
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Old 04-02-2004, 02:06 AM
Olivers
 
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Frogleg muttered....

Not even universal in the Southern US.


.....and there you contraverted yourself. In the South, "class" (in the
case of cultural antecedents, income, environment) has everything to do
with "sweetening", its use and misuse. As for processed sugar being cheap,
I'm sure all the Mexican families which still prefer piloncillo, cones of
brown sugar, still cheaper than white sugar in Mexico, will be the first to
tell you that their choices on a beans and torilla income always were price
sensitive. Until 1940 or so, refined sugar was more expensive in the US
than the raw and unprocessed varieties, forming the tastes and preferences
of a large market segment (for whom such luxuries as white sugar and
"pastry" flour were like lace cutrains among the Boston Irish, almost
cliches marking income change if not social mobility).


.....and I only have a pouund of Smithfield Bacon and a pack of Smithfield
ham sausage in the refrigerator at the moment, neither the resulkt of the
dry cure process given "Smithfield" Hams, so for all the association's
efforts, the results have been fruitless. Actually, the company in
question is near Jamestown (and purveys bottom of the line processed pork
products.

Don't you suppose that pumpkin became a "dessert", because the number of
folks who would enjoy it in the vegetable role were few, and those
who could afford molasses, honey or best of all sugar certainly
applied it lavishly (along with the heavily sugared "vegetable" versions of
sweet potatoes found in the North in lieu of the still common baked sweet
potato, now limited to the rural South and a handful of restaurants.

On the other hand, given sugar, Southerners (predominately in African
American groups or households with African American cooks) left off the
marshmallows and turned to "sweet potato pie", a menu item as class
conscious as any in the Joy of Cooking...consumed randily by Blacks and
poor (or formerly so) whites.

....and then there were the servants of 18th century littoral New England on
several occasions revolting against the practice of being fed on lobster,
then the cheapest of seafood products.

TMO


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Old 04-02-2004, 08:00 AM
ASmith1946
 
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And what an excellent article it is!

Andy Smith



I wrote a two part article on sugar for Food History News. The
article covered a bit of sugar history, the various processes used in
the 19th century to produce different types of sugar, how to make your
own sugar loaf, and a glossary of the various types of sugar.

Virginia Mescher









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Old 06-02-2004, 09:43 PM
ASmith1946
 
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My first book was going to be a history of sugar. I collected materials for
years and thought I could write a history of the world history through sugar
(which I still think is a good idea).

Two problems came up. The first was that I located tens of thousands of books
and articles that I would have felt obligated to read; the second was that Sid
Mintz published his "Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History"
(1985), which was excellent. I assumed that publishers would not be interested
in another book on sugar until it went out of print, so I started collecting
material on the history of tomatoes, a topic that little had been written on.
This was a good decision. Mintz's book, of course, has never gone out of print
and it's not likely to do so anytime soon... Most upsetting.

Andy Smith


Thanks for the feedback. It was really fun to research and I only
touched the surface of the sugar story. I'm doing an expanded version
for another magazine which will include more detailed information on
sugar history and how it came to the US and affected slavery.

I think the next issue of Food History News will have the glosssary in
it. I found that one of the more difficult portions of the article to
research.

Virginia Mescher









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Old 06-02-2004, 10:59 PM
bogus address
 
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"Opinicus" writes:
Why does sugar get put into so many unlikely things in North America?


The unlikeliest I've ever come across was in your adoptive country:
sprinkled over grilled trout in north-east Turkey. It tasted just
fine, but you were left wondering at how many dishes combining
improbability and inedibility in equal proportion that the human
race has gagged on over the millenia before selecting a few winners
like pepper on strawberries.

======== Email to "j-c" at this site; email to "bogus" will bounce ========
Jack Campin: 11 Third Street, Newtongrange, Midlothian EH22 4PU; 0131 6604760
http://www.purr.demon.co.uk/purrhome.html food intolerance data & recipes,
Mac logic fonts, Scots traditional music files and CD-ROMs of Scottish music.

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Old 07-02-2004, 08:36 PM
Alf Christophersen
 
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On Tue, 03 Feb 2004 20:06:13 -0600, Olivers
wrote:

with "sweetening", its use and misuse. As for processed sugar being cheap,
I'm sure all the Mexican families which still prefer piloncillo, cones of
brown sugar, still cheaper than white sugar in Mexico, will be the first to


Good to hear, then they at least substitute the lost Chromium with new
Cr III in the unrefined sugar. It is needed by chromomoduline,
acompound needed upstream in insulin signalling.,


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Old 08-02-2004, 06:48 AM
lilian
 
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Virginia Mescher wrote:

I wrote a two part article on sugar for Food History News. The
article covered a bit of sugar history, the various processes used in
the 19th century to produce different types of sugar, how to make your
own sugar loaf, and a glossary of the various types of sugar.

I wish I could read it! Any copy available on the net? Have you came
across eggs, used to purify cane sugar?
Thank you

--
lilian


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