November 17, 2007

The 100 greatest moments in the history of food.

Assembled here.

Of course, you know what #1 is. #2 is harder to guess, and it's a matter of opinion, but I approve:
1762 The sandwich is created as gambler John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, calls for his dinner to be put between two slices of bread so he can continue his card game with one hand and eat with the other. Lunchtimes would never be the same again.
The discovery of egg salad must necessarily rank far lower. But in the egg category, I think the greatest moment is the separation of yolk and white. Think of all that follows from that!

But actually, the egg hardly figures in the top 100. Its first appearance is at #21 as a mere ingredient in the Caesar salad:
1924 In Tijuana, Mexico, restaurateur Caesar Cardini is short of food after a big party. Scouring the kitchen, he digs out lettuce, bread, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan, eggs and lemon, and knocks up the first Caesar salad, a dish that does at least look healthy despite being full of fat. It is, needless to say, hugely popular.
Ha ha. I love the idea that one of the all-time great recipes is a quirk of what one guy, one day, happened to have in the kitchen. But I'm sure this is the source of many recipes, including the most horrendous ones.

What's the best/worst/weirdest concoction you ever made from what you happened to have on hand? Tell the story. I remember once being treated — along with a large group of partyers who'd stayed overnight somewhere on Long Island — to a breakfast of eggs with sliced hot dogs scrambled into them. Since we were very hungry, it tasted delicious. That was decades ago, and I've never felt the urge to make scrambled eggs and hot dogs.

I do remember once making creamed tuna on mashed potatoes — in a situation where soft food was a medical requirement. It seemed really good at the time, but I never made it again... needless to say.

57 comments:

knoxwhirled said...

I love tuna, but there've been several times I've been eating it and suddenly overcome by the sensation: this is just like eating cat food, and in the trash it goes.

knoxwhirled said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...

#5 which leads to pasta and bread has to beat the sandwich and the burger

Freeman Hunt said...

While a teenager I once made rice with some kind of tomato-based sauce. I don't know what ingredient did it, but I ended up in the emergency room, a visit that resolved after a bit of projectile vomiting.

Did not eat rice for two years after.

rhhardin said...

Woody Allen has the Earl discovering two slices of bread with a slice of turkey on top. Four years later, two slices of turkey with bread in between. ``Everybody rejects this except David Hume.'' Thirteen years later he comes up with two slices of rye with ham and mustard in between, and that's when it took off.

peter hoh said...

What's the best/worst/weirdest concoction you ever made from what you happened to have on hand?

With abundant tomaotes, but no bacon or lettuce, I once decided to make a sandwich of peanut butter, tomato, and onion. It has remained on my list of things I enjoy, but my wife (and just about everyone else) thinks it's gross.

The onion must be sliced very thin to make this work, and a little pepper sprinkled on the tomatoe helps, too.

My son is a picky eater. For reasons known only to God, he put Havarti cheese on a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel, with a bit of ketchup. He likes it. I won't even try a taste.

joe said...

Weirdest combo? One night in college, starving, the rooms and I had peanut butter and salami sandwiches.
And we were happy to have it.

joe said...

Freeman Hunt - you don't mention the 12 pack of beer you washed it down with.
Just kidding.

Palladian said...

Once, when I was about 10, I found a package of Ramen noodles in the cupboard. The package was torn and the flavoring package was missing, so I boiled the noodles and replaced the missing seasoning with a half-cup or so of Fleischman's margarine.

Needless to say, the result was positively emetic.

Maxine Weiss said...

Dr. Helen said she doesn't have a problem with two first-cousins marrying.

Of course, since she's from the South....she wouldn't have a problem with it.

Two first-cousins marrying eachother. I think it's kind of kinky. The thrill of the forbidden, and doing something so taboo...

....with Dr. Helen's complete approval!

Kingsfield said...

Legal Scholarship laughs at your spittle.

pst314 said...

The story about the Earl of Sandwich may not be true.

Palladian said...

Oh look, AJD seems to have read "The Paper Chase"...

Ralph said...

The English had to put an English earl in at #2. I thought it was the Egyptians who accidently invented leavened bread.
Elvis' favorite food was fried peanut butter & banana sandwiches, which I enjoy without the frying.

I once made a pretty good pasta sauce with orange juice and milk.

Ron said...

My favorite Elvis concoction was "Fool's Gold" where he'd put a pound of fried bacon (with bacon grease, of course) and a pound of Velvetta in a large lump of dough and then bake it like a loaf of bread...slice and serve!

As a kid I used to mix various sodas to try and come up with exciting new flavors...worst example? Nestle's Quik and Rock and Rye soda...It was grey, and tasted like paint thinner...

Maxine Weiss said...

Two people could have the same IP Address. Actually, a whole group of people could have the same IP Address. So by blocking a single address, you'd be cutting off countless others.

IP Address tells you virtually nothing about Posters....

...except their Gender, of course.

Maxine Weiss said...

"I remember making creamed tuna"

But, do you remember the gender of that tuna?

Trooper York said...

As has long been the case in the controversy over who wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare, there is a similar battle over who actually invented the sandwich. Although popular culture has long attributed the plays to the itinerant actor and the sandwich to the pompous earl of the same name, most true epicureans know the turth. The real originator of the sandwich was of course the Count of Monte Cristo who developed the sandwich of the same name. The Monte Cristo is a sandwich of ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese between batter-dipped grilled or fried bread. And of course the plays and sonnets were composed by Sir Francis. The key ingedient in both is of course: Bacon.

Bob said...

See #4?

1519 Spaniard Hernàn Cortes conquers Mexico, launching a cultural exchange: Europe gets chocolate,tomatoes, vanilla, turkey and chillies; the Aztecs get wheat, smallpox and measles.

I get so tired of this PC crap. It's not as if the Spaniards carefully packed up the smallpox and measles germs in crates for distribution. I'm sure, given the choice, the Spaniards would happily have spared the Indians the ravages of disease, so as to ensure a larger population to tax and enslave, if nothing else.

Maxine Weiss said...

http://www.laweekly.com/eat+drink/first-bite/dining-a-la-cart-at-whole-foods/17680/

rsb said...

Vets dog food with a raw egg. Delicious.

Trooper York said...

The true aristocratic innovator of the time was the Earl of Sandwich’s contemporary Lord Douchebag. As was memorably portrayed in a comic piece on Saturday Night Live, Lord Douchebag loved his wife dearly and wanted to relieve of the unpleasant feelings engendered by 17th century hygienic practices. So he came up with the simple mixture of vinegar and water that has endured to this day. It is unfortunate that his line has pretty much died out as there were many prominent Douchebags who played a part in both British and American history. His only surviving descendant is an invalid who currently lives in San Diego railing at the world and posting short comments on the internet consisting of such phrases as “Blow me” and “Let the suckfest continue.” It has been a sad fall for the Douchebag family.

Joe said...

#3 and #74 are repeated. #35 makes no sense. #64 is a myth. Concerning #4, Europe may have got syphilis from the "new world" (regardless, contact was inevitable and so were exchanges of disease--if Europe had never sailed west, someone in the Americas would have sailed east.)

Maxine Weiss said...

Nasty, and secretive, and shameful, and ugly.

Dark alleys, back rooms, forbidden, taboo, naughty and thrilling.

First Cousins.

SMGalbraith said...

Slightly frozen mashed potatoes with coffee poured over to heat them up.

My first job after college was working for a small newspaper in NE Ohio. Just about $10,000 a year for covering local political matters - zoning boards, city council meetings, et cetera.

The "benefit" was covering school awards dinners where you could get a free dinner. You'd grab a bunch of dinner rolls and, if lucky and no one was watching, wrap up some potatoes, meat, anything in a napkin and stick them in your pocket.

So, after the awards, we go out and during the dinner a blizzard had come crashing down. After spending 20 minutes clearing the car, going to the newsroom to file the story, getting out, clearing the car again, spending 45 minutes driving I arrive, faminished, at spacious one-room efficiency to find no electricity.

Take out the potatoes - now frozen - and grab the only semi-hot item available - coffee leftover in the pot.

Not bad at all.

SMG

John said...

I don't think the writer of that pathetic list has ever left England.

Where is Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking ?

Skeptical said...

Freeman Hunt:

My guess is that, like me, you have an allergy to some varieties of canned tomatoes. It seems to have eased up as I have gotten older, but three times in my life I have been knocked so ill by food that severe vomiting, cramping, etc., lasting days was the result. The common factor was canned tomatoes.

Since life goes better without using canned tomatoes anyway, this has not proved to be a loss in terms of my well-being.

Cedarford said...

Post and comment missed the "Hall of Infamy" - Waitrose is evidently a snooty British site - so it had to do it's obligatory sneers at a few American mainstays - Philly Cheesesteak and Kentucky fried chicken. Neither of which is matched by any parallel excellent example for the British hot sandwich or their poorly seasoned, baked to mush chicken.

Britain, of course, was famous for it's shitty food until it was rescued by the French and by curry shops. It is noted for its pungent to downright rotten cheese, its smoking & sauces ranging from malt vinegar to steak sauce to cover the "off" flavor of fish and meat.
The British then had to make excellent ales and scotch whiskey so they could drink to forget what they just ate.

******************
Speaking of which, after fire and the globalization of local food and spice sources - I'd put the creation of beer and wine to go with the food as the 3rd greatest moment. #4 would be invention of iced food - from cold milk to frozen veggies to ice cream.

********************
Any young guy is capable of creating truly awful food, but my experience is that errors in taste and good sense accumulate when you have a group of young guys in college with all the money spent on beer and babes trying to make sense of what to do with the detrius in the fridge and left on counters, etc.

I think we managed some supreme culinary catastrophes by committee on a few occasions. One was a decision to throw all the Jack in the Box leftovers, half a chicken, old bread, a tomato, oatmeal, flat beer, a few old slices of pizza, and some Captain Crunch together for a pot meal. It was so bad - we also burned it - that I believe gagged on the 1st mouthful, left, and I bought a bag of nachos and a soda to live off of that day.

Ralph said...

I don't think the writer of that pathetic list has ever left England.
Well, it was about British food. Certainly, Child ranks high on the list of American food influences. The 1965 immigration law is another.

howzerdo said...

I make up a lot of recipes and often have a good result. Also, I don't like shopping and rarely go, even to the supermarket. I have a big garden in the summer and one of the best creations that I have made with things that were on hand: breaded & oven toasted zucchini or eggplant cutlets (can't remember which it was), topped with pesto [I make that with basil, walnuts, garlic & olive oil], sliced tomatoes, and parmesan cheese.

howzerdo said...

I make up a lot of recipes and often have a good result. Also, I don't like shopping and rarely go, even to the supermarket. I have a big garden in the summer and one of the best creations that I have made with things that were on hand: breaded & oven toasted zucchini or eggplant cutlets (can't remember which it was), topped with pesto [I make that with basil, walnuts, garlic & olive oil], sliced tomatoes, and parmesan cheese.

Shawn Levasseur said...

The cheesesteak sandwich and fried chicken get on the hall of shame, yet the burger cracks the top five?

Did McDonald's & Burger King bribe the author?

jeff said...

Trooper: Absolutely killing me. But I think your wrong about the line dying out. I've noticed a whole new generation of Douchebag's in the clubs on the weekends.

Cedarford said...

1519 Spaniard Hernàn Cortes conquers Mexico, launching a cultural exchange: Europe gets chocolate,tomatoes, vanilla, turkey and chillies; the Aztecs get wheat, smallpox and measles.

Bob - I get so tired of this PC crap. It's not as if the Spaniards carefully packed up the smallpox and measles germs in crates for distribution. I'm sure, given the choice, the Spaniards would happily have spared the Indians the ravages of disease, so as to ensure a larger population to tax and enslave, if nothing else.

Agree. What diseases pass between cultures are just part of what always happens when the "web of life" interconnects localized "islands" of flora and fauna. No more sense to blame Whitey for smallpox and measles as to blame Blacky for giving Whitey the smallpox and malaria originating there and conclude AIDs is a black African plot to wipe out homosexuals. Or for that matter blame the Chinese for Black Death, cholera, flu, typhoid fever.

Nor was the "bounty" of the New world in any way equivalent to the variety and importantance of Old World cuisine items introduced into the New World.

Here is a link to the full list of "New World Foods". It is not very extensive, and should drop the yam (sweet potato) as African/Asian in origin.

http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~mukluk/new-world-food-list.html

Basically, the Native American diet was pretty limited.
Even today, while there is a lot of PC crap about the great bounty the New World gave to the Old World while the evil Oppressor races only gave Perdition to the peaceful, gourmets of Aztec and Inca Civ....the truth is the folks in the Western Hemisphere were quite violent and the average taco bender would miss the following from his taco:

1. Lard for the corn tortilla dough. No flautas, flour tacos.
-and not just wheat-
2. No chicken, beef, pork, goat, cheese to fill the taco with.
3. No garlic, onion, cilantro, lettuce or shredded cabbage for the topping. No squeeze of lime or lemon.
4. No cerveza to drink with the taco.

Not that there were not some very valuable food additions - mainly corn, potatos, squash, peppers, tomatoes, certain beans...but except for the majority of Central American nations, Old World foods provide the bulk of nutrition and calories humans eat...

Luckyoldson said...

And don't forget Spam on Wonder Bread with mustard.

OhioAnne said...

Nothing really outrageous ...

Once, while working for Girl Scouts, we were pulling a 12 hr on a weekend and couldn't get anything delivered. We found some tuna fish and mayo packets from a local fast food place.

What to eat them on? Treefoils Girl Scout Cookies

michael farris said...

More or less equal parts:

reasonably quality salsa in a jar,
health food peanut butter*,
mayonaise

*the kind made from ground peanuts with no other ingredients

I've served that to people who loved it until they found out the ingredients ...

Also,

health food peanut butter and sour cream (more or less equal parts) makes a delicious sauce

one final treat:

cottage cheese,
kikkoman light soy sauce,
sesame oil,
salt,
black pepper

dribble/sprinkle the ingredients on to the top of the cottage cheese, (barelly) stir _lightly_ and enjoy.

JohnAnnArbor said...

The Cobb salad got started in a similar to how the Caesar salad did.

Maxine Weiss said...

Martha Stewart's mother just passed away:

http://blogs1.marthastewart.com/martha/2007/11/draft.html

Won't Althouse offer her condolences?

Trooper York said...

One of the more controversial stories in the world of food is the definition of the Caesar Salad and how it was created. According to the noted historian Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, the salad was indeed created by Julius Caesar and his concubine Cleopatra when she introduced him to the ancient Egyptian art of tossing his salad. The raw egg coating need not be explained and thankfully the use of small-unwashed black olives has been discontinued as both unhygienic and in bad taste. However the anchovies was added when the dish was introduced in the Caesar’s summer home on the isle of Sappho and adds an additional taste treat to mitigate the unsavory reputation that the original act had acquired down through the centuries. Ave Caesar and his salad, well tossed and well played.

Ralph said...

Trooper, thanks for spoiling my appetite. Go sit on a pyramid.

Chip Ahoy said...

Beer is liquid bread. They developed simultaneously, by accident, at the time cultivating wheat grain spread. Wine was also discovered by accident. Fermentation begins immediately when grapes are smashed accidently in baskets being carried back from the field, as soon as the the liquid insides come in contact with the yeast/bacteria laden outsides, bang! day id iz. So low % alcohol held forth for centuries beer and wine top off at 12 % or something, distillation came much later then it became a whole 'nuther ball game. Historically all bread baking was associated with breweries, at least the yeast was. Commercial yeast became available only recently.

Our housekeeper showed me how to make fried rice, after much insisting, my version had chopped hot dog and catsup, she found that absurd but it was actually pretty good. I was 10. Lately I've taken up photographing the things I make. I've had spectacular failures.

Luckyoldson said...

The Caesar salad was created by Caesar Cardini.

Luckyoldson said...

Oh, and there were no anchovies in the original recipe.

rcocean said...

The importation of Pizza into the USA is the number one event, followed by Spaghetti (2) and Lasagna (3). Not to mention California wine (4). Shouldn't we be thanking the Italians,instead of blaming them for Mario Cuomo?

And why haven't we thanked the Aztecs for Syphilis, the Indians for Cholera, or the Mongolians for the black death?

I blame Unconscious racism.

tjl said...

In starving-student days, when all else failed, there was always the option of cake mix eaten right out of the box. Yum!

Trooper York said...

Where is the blogging cockroach when you need him? Someone must clean up the crumbs of this discussion.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, yeah, the cockroach hasn't been around! We miss him.

Anyway, when I was a teenager, I used to eat Jello out of the box... in powder form. Strawberry.

And solid Fizzies tablets.

tjl said...

Fizzies tablets made a really cool effect when placed on a moistened tongue.

Henry said...

I would have made fermentation #2.

Of course, when Ann wrote that #1 was obvious, the first, most obvious, food-related thing I thought of was John Belushi in the cafeteria in Animal House: "What am I? A human zit."

That would have made mashed potatoes #1.

Liam said...

In my opinion?

1) Peanut butter (any will do - doesnt have to be the whole foods crap), bacon, and... Onion! [insert Homer sounds]

2) Etouffee: once you get the knack of making it and and not immolating yourself, is the single greatest spicy dish on a cold winter's night. Cheap n' easy too.

3) My wife's red sauce: taught to her by her Italian grand mother, the single best red sauce ever. Combined with her grandma's meat balls - heaven on earth.

LoafingOaf said...

1904 The hamburger, popular in the USA, is served at the St Louis World Fair - crucially, in a bun. It soon becomes the world’s favourite fast food.

"...In America/It brought you the hamburger/Well, America/you know where/you can shove your hamburger/And don't you wonder/why in Estonia they say/Hey you/Big fat pig/You fat pig/You fat pig...." -Mozza

Victor said...

That list is a bit Eurocentric. I'm not saying that from a PC standpoint it's just that America and western Europe have some bland cuisine for the most part.

peter hoh said...

I thought that sliced bread would have made it to near the top of the list, but maybe that's an American expression.

reader_iam said...

After regularly watching Iron Chef (America), almost nothing would surprise me anymore in terms of what can be made into what.

Catfish truffle, anyone?

joewxman said...

leaving Julia Child off the list is an outrage. She made marinating food overnight a perfect distraction for drinking mega bottles of wine until the the food was ready to go in the oven!

Seriously she was an american food icon and needs to be somewhere on that list!

Douglas said...

It seems that #74 is the same as #3. Writers must have been in a food coma....