Say No to MSG

Synthetic Manipulation of MSG

As said above, the human body requires the naturally occurring glutamate in some quantities. But the artificial processing and manipulation of glutamate produces a form which is not the same as the naturally occurring form. As seen from other examples of hormone medications, any effort to replicate a natural product does not give the same effects and results. In fact, the possibilities of causing harm to the body can be multiplied. Same is the case of the synthetically manufactured MSG. Though advocates of MSG argue that the glutamate used in food additives is equally good, the presence of contaminants in processed MSG cannot be ruled out.

Results of Studies in this regard

Several studies have been conducted over the years to determine the harm if any caused to the body by the consumption of processed MSG. But the results obtained have not been able to give generalizations of any form on the safety aspect of consuming processed MSG. Some individuals experience no problems on consumption while some may face the side-effects over a period of time or there are some who may be affected by the consumption, right away. Moreover, small quantities in a single food item ingested after long intervals may not cause much harm than if small quantities are consumed in several food items on regular basis. The uncertainty of the effects on the body due to its consumption is a frightening issue.

Cookbooks Throughout History

Our fascination with cookbooks has virtually no limit. Celebrity chefs make millions on their beautifully illustrated cookbooks, many of which are never really used other than for fantasy. And basic classics like Better Homes & Gardens, Betty Crocker or Pillsbury will always sell. But before the nineteenth century, if a young woman or servant wasn’t taught culinary skills growing up, she was in for a rough trial-and-error period as she found herself pressed into service with a new husband and growing family. If she was able to read, she might find a few well-worn stained pages to consult but that was the extent of it.

Early cookbooks were for the wealthy only (especially royalty) and most of the castle kitchen staff couldn’t read. Of course very early cookbooks proved to be a bit daunting for the average farmer’s wife, like Forme of Cury (14th century) by the Master Cooks of King Richard II of England. Seems the portions were a tad overwhelming and one meal might require spending an entire year’s food budget for the average peasant. In Germany and England many of the books were written by women, who saw what was needed in households with fewer or no servants, and understood what made it possible to simplify the dishes with less expensive ingredients.

So for basic bona fide cookbooks, here are some which stand out, many of which are still in publication today:

Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747) was the top selling English-language cookbook for over a century, and had a major influence on early American cooking; even Martha Washington had a copy in her Mount Vernon kitchen;

Martha Bradley, in the 1756’s wrote The British Housewife taking recipes from earlier books but reworking them in her own personal style;

Fifteen Cent Dinners for Working-Men’s Families was published in New York in the late 1870s, and similar books could be found at the same time across Europe, a bit more practical for the average laborer. Presumably, creative ways to prepare poor man’s potatoes and turnips gave way to meats and fresh vegetables (hot dogs and boxed mac and cheese had not made their appearance yet);

Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (1796) one of the first cookbooks printed in America, it made a significant impact on American colonials after the Revolutionary War;

Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife (1824) still considered one of the best for authentic southern cuisine, it includes recipes for barbecued pork, okra soup, and numerous other traditional southern recipes (her brother was married to the daughter of first foodie president Thomas Jefferson, which didn’t hurt);

Lydia Marie Child’s The Frugal Housewife (1829), although a slim volume, it was popular with pioneers and light travelers, as it emphasized affordable, available foods (after all, there were no supermarkets on the frontier);

Eliza Leslie’s Directions for Cookery, In Its Various Branches (1837) the author of several volumes in the nineteenth century, her culinary fame began in 1828 with the publication of Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, a veritable bible for foodies with sweet tooths; inspiration came largely from the cooking school of Mrs. Goodfellow, a celebrated baker in Philadelphia;

The Confederate Receipt Book: A Compilation of Over One Hundred Receipts, adapted during the Civil War (1863) when Naval blockades prevented many foods from reaching the South,where growing cotton and tobacco was far more common than food;

Charles Ranhofer’s The Epicurean (1894) for over a century Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City was the epitome of find dining during the late Victorian period, hosting dinners for presidents like Ulysses S. Grant, and writers like Charles Dickens; known for their unique and ornate presentations, the most elaborate of dishes were prepared under the masterful eye of chef Charles Ranhofer; this huge heavily-illustrated tome contains mostly classic French recipes;

Fannie Merritt Farmer’s Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1896), and thanks to her we have detailed, step-by-step instructions in cookbooks that use standardized measurements for ingredients;

Rufus Estes’ Good Things To Eat (1911) his cookbook was preceded by the first from an African American, namely Robert Roberts’ The House Servant’s Directory from 1827, which featured recipes of the wealthy New England families he was accustomed to working for;

Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking (1931) among the best-selling cookbooks in American publishing history, the Joy of Cooking was originally self-published by Mrs. Rombaue, keeping her busy after her husband died, but with its unexpected initial success, she entered into a contract with a publisher;

Landmark books and chefs which have made a major contribution over the last sixty or seventy years include:

Ruth Graves Wakefield, restaurant owner and the creator of the original Toll House cookie, was a popular cookbook writer in the 1930s;

Although more famous for her marijuana-laced brownies, Alice B. Toklas was actually an accomplished cook, and her mid-twentieth century cookbook made a major impression on cooks of the future; Julia Child’s cookbooks changed America’s basic more conservative cuisine;

One of the premier cookbooks of all time, Georges Auguste Escoffier, revered French chef and considered the father of fine French cuisine, published Le Guide Culinaire, in the early years of the 20th century;

So there you have it. A brief walk through time with those early pioneers who put the art of cooking on the map and still give foodies goose bumps.

Info of Banquets

Banquets serve many purposes from training sessions, to formal business dinners. Business banquets are a popular way to strengthen bonds between businessmen and their partners. It is common that a banquet is organized at the end of an academic conference. A luau is one variety of banquets originally used in Hawaii. The Nei Mongol provincial government in China levies a tax on banquets.

Organization of the banquet dept:

Banquet manager-> asst manager-> maitre d’hôtel/chef de rang->waiters

Types of banquets:

Depending on the nature & solemnity of the occasion, banquets may be:

Informal, b. Semi-formal, c. Formal

Informal: no set plan of seating is followed here. There is no top-table & service is indiscriminate of sex & rank.

Semi-formal: these take place at company board meetings. A top table is allotted tat which the senior-most guests are seated according to their ranks. Formality & stringency of seating are maintained only at the top table. The rest of the guests are dispersed without discrimination at individual tables or sprigs.

Formal: elaborate arrangements are required in this case. Formal banquets are given by Head of State in honor of visiting dignitaries. The number of people, their designations, space required, staff requirements & the menu are planned in advance.

A table plan is printed behind each menu-card, if it is issued in advance-otherwise it is given on the invitation card. An elaborate system of service is followed in all formal banquets. This system necessarily includes a battery of lights in red, amber, green the changing of which is controlled by the banquet manager. A red light means that the waiters are to remain in the pantry, because the guests are not yet settled. Amber light means the dining room is ready. A systematic & symmetrical design is aimed at even during service.

Banqueting occasions: luncheon parties, social functions, conferences, wedding buffets, cocktail parties, dinner dances, business seminars, working lunches, training workshops, social & business reasons e.g. outdoor catering at show or exhibition.

Banquet sale offices mainly deal with:

Inquiries & follow-ups, reservations & cancellations, finalizing details, making function prospectus, filing correspondence, co-coordinating with chef for special menu, order any equipment required.

Flat As a Pancake

Thomas Jefferson, on one of his frequent travels to Paris, brought back a similar recipe called crepes, which was a thinner form of our griddle cakes, without leavening, made with wheat flour and served with fruit or a sweet syrup. They were gobbled up at state dinners, and once again that industrious President introduced a new and delicious French dish to the colonists. (To this day, crepes are a popular street food in France.)

Consider that they were easy to make, eaten by hand, and the pioneers could cook them on a hot stone around the campfire after a long hard day of traveling. Native Americans probably taught the early colonists how to grind corn, mix it into a paste, add liquid, some fat and in just a few minutes, they had hoe cakes, hot and filling. Covered with fresh honey, they were a delicacy. With no need for a bread oven, they could be prepared quickly, and if the cook had a cast iron skillet, it could be coated in bacon fat and the batter fried. Those who were lucky enough to have butter slathered it on and just dug in, napkins be damned. (A shirt sleeve worked just fine.)

Early American hoe cakes undoubtedly made way for hush puppies, cornbread and grits, also made with cornmeal, but that’s a whole different story. By the way, hoe cakes got its name from field workers using a plain hoe held over a fire, and dropping cakes onto the hoe to cook.

Pancakes are enjoyed the world over in a multitude of variations, served plain, topped with sauces and spices, wrapped around fillings and eaten for lunch and dinner. Some form of flat cakes have been around for centuries, enjoyed by ancient civilizations like the Greeks and Romans, eaten in China, India and Europe. The British-named flapjacks are different from our pancakes and made with sugar, butter, and oats, usually served with honey.

Recorded history mentions pancake-like foods in the first century (possibly earlier), and historians who study Neolitic man speculate that flat cakes made with anything handy were probably cooked on hot stones, before cooking pots and utensils were invented, between 10,000 and 3,000 B.C. Since early cave dwellers usually kept a fire burning to scare away predators, how easy to just whip up a batch of cave man pancakes while they were at it?

Many countries have their own version. Listed below are just a few.
These versions are generally sweet:
Crepes (French)
Pfannkuchen (Dutch or German)
Dosa (India)
Tiganites (Greek)
Apam Balik (Malaysia)
Pannekoeke (South Africa)

These versions are usually served with vegetables or meats:
Latkes (Jewish)
Cong you bing (Chinese)
Uttapam (India)
Blini (Eastern Europe, Russia)
Kimchi pancakes (Korea)
Cachapas (South America)