The World of Food: Cheese

By Julia Maish |

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Unless you’re lactose-intolerant, the chances are that you like cheese. And when better to enjoy it than during a week when we celebrate National Cheese Day? Nobody can agree on when, how, or why this great excuse for indulging in Cheddar, Swiss, and Gouda came about, but the farmers of America’s Dairyland, our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin, are probably not complaining.

The World of Food: Burgers

By Julia Maish |

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“Hamburgers, hamburgers, hamburgers hot; onions in the middle, pickle on top. Makes your lips go flippity flop.”

–Hamburger Charlie, food cart proprietor, 1885

 

“[The] man who invented the hamburger was smart; [the] man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius.”

–Matthew McConaughey, actor

 

In case you didn’t know, there is an important annual observance in late May: International Hamburger Day. What better excuse, as you fire up the backyard grill this summer, to look back at the delicious history of a culinary creation that is currently the most popular fast food item in America?

The World of Food: Norway

By Julia Maish |

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This week, the annual National Day of Norway (Nasjonaldagen) commemorates the anniversary of the country’s adoption of its constitution in 1814; the locals refer to it simply as syttende mai (literally, May seventeenth — much like Americans have labeled our July fourth holiday, for a similar reason).

The World of Food: Eggs

By Julia Maish |

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May is National Egg Month, so it’s the perfect time to reflect on the long history and many applications of what is surely one of the world’s oldest foods, an incredibly versatile protein source, starting with the obvious question:

The World of Food: Cinco de Mayo

By Julia Maish |

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May 5 is the day to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which marks the date of the 1862 victory of the Mexican Army over French forces at the Battle of Puebla. This holiday is not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day which is observed in September — Cinco de Mayo is more about Mexican culture. Which makes Cinco de Mayo the perfect opportunity to get your Mexican on and indulge in some of your favorite dishes (and those all-important margaritas). Most everyone is familiar with the main dishes — tacos, burritos, tostadas, enchiladas, etc., but here are a few of the most popular Mexican appetizers and where they came from…

The World of Food: The Netherlands

By Julia Maish |

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Each year during the final week of April, the citizens of the Netherlands observe a festive national holiday: Koningsdag (King's Day), in which they pay tribute to their reigning monarch – currently, King Willem-Alexander. This year, to mark the King’s 50th birthday, he and Queen Maxima are hosting a special dinner and photo op for 150 somewhat-randomly-selected “commoner” guests at the royal palace. Entrants could win a chance to hobnob with royalty if they meet one or more of the following eligibility requirements:

The World of Food: The Sandwich

By Julia Maish |

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“A man's social rank is determined by the amount of bread he eats in a sandwich.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

 

April, in case you didn’t know, is National Grilled Cheese Month. In light of that, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on the history, popularity, and seemingly infinite possibilities of the sandwich (including the grilled cheese).

The World of Food: Easter

By Julia Maish |

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Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! 
One a penny, two a penny, 
Hot cross buns! 
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons; 
One a penny, two a penny, 
Hot cross buns!
– Mother Goose

 

The word “Easter” is said to have been coined from Eostre, who was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the spring and sunrise (we call the direction of the sunrise “east” because of her). Just the name conjures up images of brightly colored eggs being hunted on green lawns by children in their Sunday best; decorated baskets of jelly beans, chocolate rabbits, and marshmallow chicks; gardens blooming with daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips; and sumptuous pastel-hued repasts with family and friends. A celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, Easter is a joyous day that for Christians (and some non-Christians, too) represents rejuvenation and rebirth (and perhaps also the arrival of spring), and the traditional foods connected with this religious holiday are highly symbolic. Here are a few, and some possible origins and meanings…

The World of Food: India

By Julia Maish |

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If it were possible to sum up the cuisine of India in one word, that word would probably be diversity. This vast country boasts so many variations in vegetation, climate, culture, religion, ethnicity, and influence that it’s difficult to classify its food in a specific way. And judging from the wide variety of innovative Indian fusions, including those with elements of China, Malaysia, Singapore, and England (from the time of the British Raj), that are now available here in Chicago and elsewhere, it’s clear that it is still evolving today.

The World of Food: Greece

By Julia Maish |

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"Standing there an hour alone I dreamt that Greece might once be free."

– Lord Byron

 

The people of Greece, along with their beautiful scenery and pleasantly temperate climate, enjoy one more distinction: each year in March, they mark a unique dual holiday that is celebrated by both the deeply religious and the happily patriotic.

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