Category: Food History

Shrove Tuesday

shrove-tuesday1Today is shrove Tuesday, which has now become better known as Pancake Day.

What is Shrove Tuesday about?  Has it become just a day of cooking and tossing pancakes?

Shrove Tuesday is the last day of merriment and feasting before Lent begins in earnest.

But in truth and in its history, today is about penitence.  Shrove Tuesday got its name from the ritual of shriving, which early Christians used to do.

The act of shriving meant that Christians would confess their sins and their shortcomings and in so doing will receive absolutions.

Absolution means the person will be forgiven of his sins and released from his guilt and pain that he had caused.

This tradition is very old.

Shrove Tuesday

It was a custom and tradition of the early Christians to confess their sins a week before the start of Lent to their priest/confessor, who shall so shrive them.

Today is not only about pancake but a time to think about the wrong deeds that we have done or have continued  doing.  We must be penitent of them.

On the happier side, Shrove Tuesday is also about partying and feasting.  Time to cook and serve all the foods that may have to be given up for the sober Lent to come. Barbecue the meat and fish and make pastas so no food are wasted for the coming Lent.  Today is like a Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday.

Pancake became the ideal food for Tuesday because it uses up all the fats, milk and eggs with the addition of flour.





Rice – Asia’s Staple

Jar of Basmati Rice, Photo by JMorton

Rice – Asia’s Staple

The above is an Indian basmati rice.  If you do not have a kitchen hero like the rice cooker, basmati rice is the easiest to cook, using an ordinary pan, among the various types of rice.  It is almost full-proof as long as you follow the packet’s instruction.

Just over a week ago, I found out from my sister that rice can cause diabetes.  Apparently the carbohydrates in rice can be converted into glucose in the body.   So if you are rather partial to rice at every meal, then train yourself to regularly exercise.  Sweat out that rice carb before it turns into glucose!

Fortune Cookie Tells All

Fortune Cookie, photo by JMorton

Fortune Cookie Tells All

My fortune cookie says that “Everything is now in place for you to make a major decision with ease.”

The fortune cookies came as a freebie with our Chinese take-away.

But did you know?  Fortune cookies are not a Chinese invention.  They are in fact American.  A Japanese restauranteur in San Francisco, apparently started the fashion of inserting little bits of thank you notes in their buns.

This proved popular which then copied by a nearby Chinese restaurant and instead of thank you, it started to tell ‘fortune’

Beer, Ale, Lager & Malt

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
– Benjamin Franklin

Beer, Ale, Lager & Malt

What is the difference?

Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink for fellows whom it hurts to think,
A.E. Housman

Singja Thai lager Beer

Singja Thai lager Beer

Do not cease to drink beer, to eat,to intoxicate thyself, to make love and celebrate the good days.
– Egyptian Proverb

God has a brown voice, as soft and full as beer.
– Anne Sexton

He was a wise man who invented beer.
– Plato

Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer.
– Frederick the Great

Teetotallers seem to die the same as others, so what’s the use of knocking off the beer.
– A. P. Herbert (British author & politician)

The best beer in the world is the open bottle in your hand.
– Danny Jansen

Where does one not find that bland degeneration which beer produces in the spirit.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

Hobgoblin extra strong ale

Hobgoblin extra strong ale

Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s way to man.
– A.E. Housman (1859-1936)

Vegetable: Artichoke


It was the Italians who first ate artichokes, they loved this variety of thistle so much they cultivated it for food.

In France, artichokes were thought of as something medicinal, advised to be eaten by the elderly and those who suffer from depression.

Having said that, artichokes were believed to be an aphrodisiac.

Apparently it was the Dutch who brought artichokes to the English attention.  It was first brought to the table of Henry VIII.

Vegetable: Artichoke

Artichokes are best during the summer season and should be cooked immediately after buying or harvesting from the garden.

The best way to cook artichokes are by poaching in water with olive oil and with a dash of lemon juice.

After poaching, it can also be put under the grill or even bake.

Artichokes are lovely eaten with parmesan cheese, anchovies, mayonnaise, lemon, butter, bacon and garlic sauce.


Doner Kebab Meal

Doner Kebab, photo by JMorton

Doner Kebab, photo by JMorton


Carving for a Donar kebab

Carving for a Donar kebab

Doner Kebab Meal

Friday night and the feeling is right for a doner kebab.

I know it is usually a fish Friday but just for this Friday, I or rather Peter and I fancied a bit of a doner.

It was quite lovely too.  The meat was tender with the right amount of hot spice from the chili.

Doner kebab is apparently Turkish in origin or rather the inventor was.  It was invented by Mahmut Aygun about 40 years ago when he left Turkey for a greener pasture.

Mr Aygun was 16 years old when he emigrated to Germany.  Fairly early on he realised that there was a gap in the market for old fashioned roast lamb and spices, loved by migrants like him.  At first his kebab was served on a plate with rice and vegetable.

Again Mr Argun became aware of the need for a more portable, take-away food for the on-the-go Berliners, thus, the the birth of the doner kebab, which is roast lamb with salad inserted into a warmed up pitta bread, generously drizzled with garlic sauce or chili sauce.

This proved a hit especially to late night revellers.  Its popularity has spread far and wide.

Doner came from the Turkish word dondumek means rotating meat, which aptly describe how doner is roasted upright in a rotating rotisserie.

The kebab is then cut thinly using a 19 inches long kebab carving knife.


Chicken – White Meat

Poultry is for the cook what canvas is for the painter.
– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
(1755- 1826)

Chicken, photo by PH Morton

Chicken & Egg, Photo by MJane Baldos Balet

Chicken & Egg, Photo by MJane Baldos Balet

A breakfast of egg is a good way to start the day. It provides protein, selenium and choline, which helps the memory. It is also rich in calcium.

The best eggs are the freshly laid and freshly gathered ones.






Chicken - Photo y PH Morton

Chicken – Photo y PH Morton

Chicken – White Meat

We need meat in our diet and the healthiest are the white meat, which chicken is one.

Chicken is a good source of selenium, which plays a major part in DNA repair.

Chicken is also a good source of niacin, which protect brain function as we age.

Chicken skin can be cream or yellow, the colouring will vary according to how the chicken was fed – corn-fed chicken will have yellow skin.


Chicken pieces, photo by PH Morton

Ampalaya (Bitter Gourd)

Ampalaya, Photo by PH Morton

Ampalaya, Photo by PH Morton

Ampalaya (Bitter Gourd)

Halved Bitter Gourds, Photo by PH Morton

Halved Bitter Gourds, Photo by PH Morton

Ampalaya is also called bitter gourd and bitter melon. It is appropriately named; it is rather bitter.  It is believed to be the most bitter amongst vegetables.  But the good news is that it is a superfood.

It is a fruit of a  vine.  The vine can grow up to 5 feet tall.  It supports itself by way of having beautiful green tendrils that spiralled themselves to whichever they can touch and cling to such as stakes or other vegetable plants.

Ampalaya leaves (young sprouts) are equally bitter but it can be blanched and then drained by squeezing all the liquids from it.  It can then be served with chopped tomatoes and shallots with a dash of patis (fish sauce) or bagoong (a Filipino specialty – fermented fish).   This is actually delicious eaten with freshly boiled rice.  I miss this.

Apparently it has been proven that ampalaya has some medicinal properties.  It increases production of beta cells in the pancreas, therefore, it improves the body’s production of insulin, which control the blood sugar and this is good news for diabetics.  Ampalaya is an excellent source of Vitamin B, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. It is also rich in beta carotene. Try to add ampalaya into your diet.

Admittedly, it can be really bitter during the first taste but the taste buds quickly get used to it and can be rather delicious.

Watch this space for more ampalaya recipes.

Ampalaya Sprouts, Photo by JMorton

Ampalaya Sprouts, Photo by JMorton

Ampalaya Sprouts, Photo by JMorton

Cotton Candy Memories

Candy Floss at Hampstead Heath fare, photo by PH Morton

Candy Floss at Hampstead Heath fair, photo by PH Morton

Did you know?

Spun sugar used to be made through a labour-intensive process and therefore, the end product was very expensive and only a few can have it.

It  was in 1897  that a supposed guardian angel of teeth, a dentist, by the name of William Morrison, together with John C Warthon, a confectioner, invented a spun sugar machine to make candy floss readily available to the masses.  Their invention known then as a fairy floss was introduced at the 1907 World Fair, making it an instant best-seller.

In 1921, another dentist invented a similar machine, which he patented as a cotton candy machine.  The name stuck whilst fairy floss gradually morphed to cotton candy.

It is rather ironic that dentists would invent a machine, which produces almost 100 per cent sugar as treat for the young and the young at heart. 🙂

Cotton Candy Memories

When we were young, we always go to church on Sundays.  Sometimes we vary the church where we go to attend mass but there were always the same merchandise and treats that await churchgoers after the mass.

Right outside the church were cotton candy vendors, I love the cotton candy, it was so soft; it melts in the mouth in pure sandy sweetness.  I love its pinkish white turning into darker hue of pink as your teeth bite into a cloud of floss.  I thought then that it made going to church and sitting on an over long mass worthwhile. 🙂

Aside from cotton candy, there were also popcorn.  There was a choice of salty or sweetened and again in pink coloured popcorn.  My sister Marilou would get a sweet one and my brother William would get the salty kind.

Outside the church were also sellers of birds in cages.  I remember begging my parents to get me a bird but they never did.  They said it was cruel to keep the maya bird inside the house.

My youngest brother got to have a helium balloon.  And as the tradition in a Filipino family, it was a share and share alike so we had to share with him our cotton candy and popcorns whilst he won’t allow anyone to touch his balloon but himself alone! He can do whatever he liked as he was bunso (youngest) There was no justice! LOL

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