In today’s episode we’re going into the underbelly of food production. We’ll investigate the process by which late 19th-century food production became a vast industry. And we’ll see how technological developments such as freezing, canning, and pasteurization gave large companies increasing amounts of control over food production.
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Culinary Activities for this Episode:
• Replacing Industrial Products with Fresh Ingredients
Think of the ways new mass-manufactured products have been used in recipes, sometimes in the end becoming classics like green bean casserole and Rice Krispies treats. We now take for granted that cans and boxes will have recipes on them or that manufacturers will produce their own recipe booklets. In this exercise, think of a brand-name, industrially manufactured product. See how quickly you can find a recipe online that incorporates that product. Simply type in the product name and the word recipe. How and why did food manufacturers get in the business of writing recipes? How and why did these become traditional? Think of as many brand-name products as you can that are used in now-classic recipes. Chocolate-chip cookies are a good example. Now choose one of these classics and try to cook it using entirely fresh ingredients.
For example, the recipe for a green bean casserole might be as follows. Trim the ends off two pounds of string beans, cut them in half lengthwise, and blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Then, immediately plunge them into cold water. Meanwhile, sauté sliced mushrooms in butter with a little salt and a tablespoon of flour, and stir. Then, add milk and chicken stock, and continue stirring until slightly thickened. Drain the string beans, put them in a casserole dish, pour the mushroom mixture on top, and stir well to coat the string beans. Then, thinly slice two onions, and toss lightly with seasoned flour. Fill a pan halfway with oil, and heat to about 350 degrees. Fry the onion slices in small batches, and place on top of the casserole. Then, bake it for 40 minutes in a 325-degree oven. Serve.
Laszlo, Citrus: A History.
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