Cooking Notes

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Cooking NotesCookbooks are open, but still poorly studied books of the history of human culture. Although the book recipes themselves came into use relatively recently, the traditional combination of products in them is not at all accidental and can tell a lot about where our distant ancestors lived and with whom they communicated.

It is impossible not to notice that "Culture" and "Cooking" - words that are close in sound and origin. Their ancient meaning is associated with the prosaic filling of the stomach, for which knowledge about obtaining and preparing food was required. In Latin, culture means, in fact, the same thing as agriculture, that is, the cultivation and cultivation of field and horticultural crops, in contrast to the simple gathering of wild edible plants. In Russian, the same meaning is embodied in words such as "ear" and "Kulich"... And words similar in meaning can easily be found in the languages ​​of many agricultural peoples.

So, the embryo of human culture arose from the simple idea that the gifts of the earth cannot be used unlimitedly and sooner or later everything taken from nature for free will have to be replenished with our own labor. But before this truly revolutionary thought was born, people managed to make many mistakes. Let us note that ecological disasters, generated by an ignorant attitude to nature, also occurred in very distant times. There is speculation that the great Asian and African deserts emerged as a result of extremely rapid absorption and trampling of vegetation by huge herds of wild or domestic animals. The devastation of the land could lead not only to excessive livestock raising, but also inept agriculture. So, ordinary irrigation could lead to soil salinization, and sowing the same crop could lead to its rapid depletion. In addition, the plowed lands became defenseless against the wind, which often carried away their fertile layer.

Cooking NotesPerhaps it would not be an exaggeration to say that the entire history of mankind is an endless struggle of culture against the always threatening hunger. Whether we want to admit it or not, it was population growth and lean years that became the main cause of wars and revolutions, decline and revival of different civilizations. Some historians see a certain cyclicality in these phenomena, even suggesting that people's behavior depends on the activity of the Sun or other celestial bodies. Of course, man depends on the world of cosmic phenomena, but far from being as straightforward as plants or animals. Under the influence of cosmic cycles, plants can suffer from heat or cold, humidity or drought. For this, people created clothes and dwellings in order to become independent from the vagaries of nature. In other words, it is the food chains that most of all express a person's dependence on the nature that gave rise to him, but he tends to forget about this, often turning the fight against hunger into a war with his own kind.

The dependence of man on nature has always been recognized, but in ancient times it took all kinds of religious forms. People all over the world asked God to send down the harvest, and if their expectations were not met, then they all became victims of their delusion. The idea of ​​feeding on heavenly manna, flower pollen and dried grasshoppers also did not materialize. Of course, faith helps a person to survive in the most difficult conditions, but faith alone is clearly not enough, and therefore practical world experience in solving food problems has been accumulating for many centuries.

Part of this experience is contained in the already mentioned cookbooks. It is about the involvement of various nutritional products in the food chain, or about such methods of cooking in which the loss of food becomes the least.

Once upon a time, South American potatoes have successfully replaced the less productive European roots. This happened because root vegetables are a very common food product, and almost everything that is now made from potatoes was previously made from turnips. You can eat turnips just like that, or you can fry, steam, bake in pancakes and pies. It is curious that in some countries almost the same is prepared from celery as from carrots in others. In other words, product interchangeability has been used in cooking since time immemorial, and now there is no need to reproduce old recipes too punctually. In any case, what our distant ancestors ate cannot be obtained. After all, long-term selection has greatly changed the yield and taste of many plants.

I must say that breeding work did not always give the best results. Thus, the desire for high yields of wheat, i.e., to increase the number or size of grains in the ears, can lead to a decrease in the protein and gluten content in flour, and this affects the quality of baked bread. It also turned out that excessive cleaning and polishing of rice grains - an analogue of wheat in eastern countries - does not give the best results. After such processing, the rice becomes extremely white, but together with its top layer, useful substances leave, the lack of which leads to a serious illness.

Cooking NotesThere have been failures and victories on the path to culinary excellence at all times, but undoubtedly, the preserved recipes are great witnesses of how the war against hunger unfolded in the most ordinary home kitchen. Interestingly, the old recipes for traditional dishes expressed the desire not to lose and somehow preserve for a long time any food products available in the house. So, in preparation english pudding crumbs and slices can be used stale bread (they are flooded berry syrup and put under the press). Into the italian pizza almost any meat and vegetable leftovers can get in (they are baked in a dough with a sour dressing). Exceptionally complex French sauces also contain everything that could remain in the kitchen (usually all this is added to a flour, bone broth with aromatic spices). AND russian pies were prepared in a very diverse way, since many ways were found for drying, salting, pickling or smoking what was stored for the winter (chopped filling was baked in a dough). In general, it turned out that in European cuisine recipes flour, eggs, milk with additives are mixed in almost any ratio, as a result of which anything is baked, from omelet and pancakes to pies and bread.

Cookbooks also reveal unexpected connections between different countries, sometimes very distant. So, in the recipes of German cuisine, surprisingly, you can find quite a lot of citrus fruits (they are put not only in sweet, but also in other dishes), since these southern fruits once had to compensate for the lack of their own fruits and berries.

But it is not always so easy to combine products from different seasons and different climatic zones. Experience in making very exquisite Chinese snake dishes, frogs, larvae, mussels and other shellfish (various products with flavored additives are usually very finely chopped and mixed) did not take root in those countries where these animals are not well-fed or are not found at all.

In many coastal and island states, seafood has been and remains the staple food, especially fish... However, fish stocks not only in rivers, but also in ordinary areas of marine fishing have become noticeably thinner. This can affect the well-being of even such a developed country as Japan, where fish (usually combined with rice) is the daily and staple food of millions of people.

I must say that culinary tastes and traditions sometimes express very complex national feelings.So, in the culinary book of the old Georgian chef, Caucasian cuisine (lamb dishes) includes only georgian cuisine, a azerbaijani cuisine and Armenian cuisine covered in other sections.

Cooking NotesBut despite the most different tastes and subtleties of cooking national dishes, there are very simple and general patterns in the preparation of any food. Moreover, the introduction of refrigerators immediately simplified many culinary techniques. Obviously, the higher the quality of the original product, the easier and easier to prepare it. Good meat is simply boiled or fried. In this case, a large amount of aromatic and flavoring additives is not required, because then the product itself will lose its natural taste and aroma. But in the conditions of our life, when artificial feed, growth hormones, coloring agents and other additives affect the quality of meat, it still makes sense to turn to the old culinary experience. In this case, interest should be shown in how game dishes were previously prepared. The fact is that the meat of wild animals, be it goose, duck, wood grouse, partridge or hare, boar, Moose, the bear, due to their mobile lifestyle, is distinguished by some rigidity and a rather pungent smell. Therefore, before heat treatment, such meat was soaked for some time in different brines, even ordinary cabbage or cucumber. For the preparation of such brines, apples, currants, cranberries, lingonberries, juice, kvass, wine, vinegar or other acidic solutions were also used, and various herbs and spices were added for the aroma.

The opinion has long been expressed that meat products should be completely abandoned, especially since the plants that go to feed the killed animals compete with those that serve as direct human food. However, where there is no lush vegetation, such a refusal is impossible. Pets are also needed to obtain dairy products. As you know, the upper fat layer of milk goes into cream, and then they can be knocked down into butter... When boiling sour milk, cottage cheese is obtained, and from cottage cheese further after standing - cheese... Sour milk gives yogurt, baked milk - fermented baked milk; sour cream - sour cream. However, now to obtain fermented milk products, a special ferment and special conditions are needed, since the composition of milk is affected by the changed animal feed, as well as some preservatives. In other words, obtaining many food products becomes possible only in the conditions of their industrial production. But the technical equipment of this seemingly priority area leaves much to be desired (although any food processor is no more complicated than a car, let alone a robot on wheels that collects lunar soil).

Yet modern culinary science is developing rapidly. Evidence of this is new methods of heat treatment, deep cooling and very long storage of all kinds of products. Therefore, cookbooks can no longer be just a collection of recipes. Apparently, these should be practical guidelines, including quality criteria, quantity, time and temperature of preparation of basic food products, as well as those flavoring and aromatic additives that are combined with them. Some nutrients are known to withstand high temperatures, while others do not. It is also known that many types of food include similar substances, and therefore are easily combined and interchangeable with each other. For example, the combination of different fruits, berries, herbs, spices has been very ingeniously used in culinary recipes for a long time. But when it comes to the mass production of food products, the highest professionalism is required, and excessive ingenuity here may be inappropriate and even dangerous.

Cooking NotesA critical situation with food products has developed not only in our country, but throughout the world, and often far from the best types of food are hiding under the brightest and most shiny packages.In the past, there are cases when, for example, olive oil was sold all over the world much more than the olive groves themselves could provide, and the shortage was made up by the addition of refined machine oil. Cases of adding colorants and aromatic substances to meat, vegetables, fruits, only imitating their freshness or maturity. Therefore, over the past decades, in many countries of the world (our country does not have such experience), special scientific centers have been created that independently control and mark the quality of all food products. However, this problem is now also relevant, and recently it was discussed not even by one, but by several international conferences.

Food in itself is not a strategic raw material, but world maps of the receipt and migration of food are not published anywhere. It should be assumed that these maps will immediately reveal large centers that act, figuratively speaking, like giant pumps (some products are exported even from those countries where people are still dying of hunger). This state is very unstable. The realization of all this, perhaps, will finally attract the best forces of society precisely to food problems. In any case, without food, the bodily perspectives of the spiritual development of society become very problematic.

MI Klyuchnikova - Once again about food

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