We’re at the peak of America's favorite season. The nights are cooler, harvest festivals are everywhere, and, of course, football games.
What better way to gather with our friends, enjoy delicious food and share fun stories — like the cool origins of our food celebrations this week.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
October 17: National Pasta Day
Pasta is one of the most versatile, economical, and accessible foods in the world with endless sizes, shapes, and variations.
Although we commonly think of pasta as a traditional Italian dish, the reference of dough made from a combination of flour and water or eggs has been around for centuries. Pasta is said to be a descendant of ancient Asian noodles. And the oldest evidence of noodles goes as far back as 4,000 years, as found inside earthenware bowls at the Lajia archeological site in China. Many historians believe that noodles were brought by Marco Polo when he returned to Europe after his trips to China.
However, records suggest that it has been enjoyed a little earlier in the region. It was thought to have been brought by Arabs due to extensive Mediterranean trading in the middle ages.
Pasta making was refined, and Italy's ideal climate for growing vegetables and herbs emerged with the most popular pasta dishes, especially the tomato-based sauce.
Nowadays, people usually differentiate pasta from noodles primarily because of their ingredients. Pasta is made from durum semolina, which is coarser than regular flour, while noodles are made with flour milled from common wheat.
In Italy, its citizens consume over 27kg (60lb) of pasta per person per year. Americans, on the other hand, eat about 9kg (20 lb) per person.
Don't get left behind. Bring out your special pasta recipe and join the celebration.
October 18: National Chocolate Cupcake Day and National Mashed Potato Day
Cupcakes, also called fairy cakes or patty cakes, were first mentioned in 1796 by Amelia Simmons in American Cookery. It was cited as "a cake to be baked in small cups." (Amelia Simmons also brought us the pumpkin pie, and you can learn more about her in our podcast episode, “Oh My Gourd, Becky – It’s Pumpkin Szn.”)
Cake making itself, however, is thought to have been created by the ancient Egyptians. They made honey-sweetened dessert bread which was considered the earliest version of cakes. But, modern cakes, which are round and topped with icing, are credited as the invention of Europeans. The word cake is of Viking origin, derived from the Norse word "kaka."
Cakes were considered a luxury during those old days as ingredients like sugar and chocolate were very expensive. Then, around the early 19th century, sugar became cheaper and temperature-controlled ovens started to emerge. As a result, bakers got more opportunities to be creative in their craft, and different cake variations proliferated and brought around the world. It is believed that cupcakes were developed by households to make baking cakes economical and faster. In addition, their size and shape are perfect for children and ideal for sharing. In 1919, bakeries offering cupcakes started to appear in America, and soon cupcake specialty bakeries began to increase in number. Many variations of cupcakes emerged, and one of the most popular varieties is the chocolate cupcake.
Our next celebration, National Mashed Potato Day, was started by Idahoan Foods to celebrate the new Idahoan Signature Russets Mashed Potatoes.
Mashed potatoes are said to be one of the most popular ways Americans enjoy their potatoes. And potato has long been consumed in the Americas, where it originated. It is believed that Native Americans domesticated the potatoes around 7,000-10,000 years ago. Genetic testing also showed that all of these potatoes in America came from a single origin, the potatoes of Peru and northwestern Bolivia. So, let's all join in and celebrate this resilient potato as we enjoy our staple dish, mashed potato.
October 19: National Seafood Bisque Day
Bisque is thought to have been derived from Biscay, as in the Bay of Biscay. It could also refer to bis cuites or twice cooked as crustaceans are first sautéed lightly in their shells, then simmered in wine and aromatic ingredients, before being strained and added with cream.
Interestingly, the term “bisque” is also used to refer to cream-based soups that do not contain seafood. Like pre-cooked squash, tomato, mushroom or red pepper, which are pureed or processed in a food processor or a food mill.
For today's celebration, we'll enjoy the thick, smooth and flavorful Seafood Bisque.
Soup, the original adaptation of bisque, has been enjoyed for thousands of years. But the bisque recipe is said to have evolved when the Europeans immigrated to America. Crustaceans were abundant in the region, and these became the primary ingredient.
In the 17th century, a recipe became popular, which is similar to the modern-day seafood bisque recipe. It was made of crayfish and turned into a thick mixture known as pottage. But during those times, crustaceans were considered lower-class food. It was only later that Europeans became accustomed to the taste and enjoyed crustaceans like crayfish and lobster.
Nowadays, seafood bisque, especially lobster, is often served at steakhouses and expensive gourmet restaurants.
They are sought by many patrons, and if you're one of them, gather your friends and family and join the celebration with us.
October 20: National Brandied Fruit Day and International Chefs Day
Brandied Fruit is made by soaking sweet fresh fruit in brandy, sugar and spices. The process usually takes 30 days, and the delicious treat can be used as a topping on desserts, like cakes, pies and ice cream.
This food invention was discovered as a way to make fresh fruits last longer. Incidentally, the process also yielded a delicious treat for adults, becoming popular during the Victorian era.
So, make sure to stock your pantry because you're going to need it for our next celebration.
International Chefs Day was created in 2004 by the late Chef Dr. Bill Gallagher. It was in honor of the noble profession and a way to remember to pass on the culinary skills and knowledge to the next generation.
At Yumday, we'll also take this day to specially honor women and BIPOC chefs who greatly impacted society by sharing their skills and knowledge to spread awareness, nourishment, and delicious recipes to be enjoyed by the mainstream.
One of them is Chef Pierre Thiam of Yolélé, who revolutionized and made the super grain, fonio, more accessible to everyone. This, in turn, continuously helps African farmers and communities in their livelihood.
And of course, this day's celebration will not be complete without telling the badass story of Julia Child.
Now that you have brandied fruit and Yolélé snacks sit down, relax and enjoy our podcast: Julia Child was a B.A.M.F
October 21: National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, International Day of the Nacho and National Apple Day
The Autumn food holidays will not be complete without pumpkins. So, we'll add another cake celebration with pumpkin cheesecake.
Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America over 7,500 years ago, where archaeologists discovered the oldest domesticated seeds in the Oaxaca Highlands of Mexico. So, pumpkin recipes have been pretty much in existence in Native America since then. On the other hand, cheesecake is believed to be a popular dish in ancient Greece. The Greek physician, Aegimus even wrote a book on the art of making cheesecakes. Modern cheesecake, however, is not classified as an actual cake. Instead, this modern recipe evolved in the 18th century. And they are more of a torte than cake, due to the presence of many eggs which is the sole source of leavening. As for the first pumpkin cheesecake, no one really knows who invented this variation. It most probably evolved when Europeans settled in the New World. We now know that the region was abundant in pumpkins, so various recipes could have begun, and one of them may be pumpkin cheesecake. But, no matter where or who invented it, you can never go wrong in enjoying a slice (or the whole pie) of pumpkin cheesecake this October 21.
On this day, we'll also celebrate the International Day of the Nacho.
Legend says that in 1943, Ignacio Anaya was working at the Old Victory Club in Piedras Negras, situated near an American military base.
One day, a group of women who were soldiers' wives came to the restaurant hungry after a shopping trip. Unfortunately, it was late, and all of the other restaurants were closed, except for Ignacio's. He felt sorry for them, so he went to the kitchen to see what he could prepare for them.
When he returned, he introduced the very first Mexican hors d’oeuvre and called it Nacho Special. He basically called it after himself, as nacho is short for Ignacio.
So, every October 21, we celebrate and honor Ignacio by binging on all variations of the nacho recipes.
October 21 is also National Apple Day. Apples originated in Central Asia and they have been cultivated for thousands of years in Asia and Europe. Europeans eventually brought apples to North America while colonizing the region. Nowadays, there are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples with various tastes. We all know that they are versatile culinary ingredients and thousands of recipes can be made with them. What's your favorite apple recipe? Share it in the comments below.
October 22: National Nut Day
As we all know, nuts are fruits with a hard nutshell protecting the edible kernel or seed. But unlike most seeds which naturally frees themselves from the shell, nuts are stubborn. In a botanical context, "nut" implies that the shell does not open to release the seed. (I guess that's why they're called nuts).
Nevertheless, nuts such as hazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns, almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are just too delicious, many won't mind going nuts just to acquire them. They're delicious, nutritious and very versatile culinary ingredients.
But if you're like me, who can't be bothered to release these introvert seeds from their shells, check out Yumday shop.
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October 23: National Boston Cream Pie Day
Boston Cream Pie is a cream-filled cake that's slathered with chocolate frosting on top.
We now know the origin of cakes and pies and that they are really ancient. So we'll start our story in 1881, where the owners of Parker House Hotel in Boston claimed that their French Chef Raelyn created the very first Boston Cream Pie.
In 1878, Iron Ware Cook Book mentioned the term "Boston Cream Pie,” but it is said to have been earlier known as "chocolate cream pie" and mentioned in the 1872 Methodist Almanac.
Then 1996, Massachusetts declared Boston cream pie as their official dessert.
Today, we join the celebration by enjoying a slice with our friends and family.
In case, you want a healthier alternative for this week's celebrations, subscribe to Yumday’s monthly snack box where we surprise and delight you with healthy snacks from women and BIPOC founders.
And if this week turns out to be a bed weather and you'd like to relax a little more and enjoy your snack... Go ahead, we support you!
In fact, we'll join you. Binge with us in Every Day is a Food Day, and we'll entertain you while you relax.