In today’s world, there are many different foods that are available to someone. These foods range from herbs, vegetables, spices, fruits and fish and other meats. All of these foods are utilized in the cooking process in order to provide sustenance for us on a daily basis. To be able to use these foods in the cooking process, we must first understand the origins of the foods and how they can be incorporated into the meals that we prepare.
This paper will discuss five herbs, five fish, five root vegetables, two lily originated vegetables, four spices, and four fruits. Not only will this paper discuss these foods, but it will also investigate the origins of the foods and discuss the preparation needed in the cooking process.
The first food identification involves herbs which include: chervil, arrowroot, cardamom, marjoram, and tarragon. Chervil is a light green lacey fernlike leaf that is derived from the parsley family. Chervil can be found in California and New Mexico. The traditional uses of chervil are that of a component in popular French herb blends. The aroma bears a resemblance to parsley however the flavor has a distinct trace of anise. The herb originates from southern Russia. It was used in the first century as a seasoning and then the Romans took it to France where it has been used for centuries. It was only recently introduced in the United States. While using Chervil, it should be either crushed by hand or in a mortar before use. Some of the uses of this herb are stirring it into scrambled eggs or cheese and ham omelets. It can also be used to add color to creamy dressings or potato salads.
Arrowroot is another herb that can be used in cooking. Arrowroot is a white powder that is extracted from the root of a West Indian plant, Marantha arundinacea. It has the look and feel of cornstarch. Arrowroot is grown in both Brazil and Thailand. This herb’s traditional use is that of a thickening agent for sauces, fruit pie fillings as well as glazes, and puddings. This herb has no flavor. Arrowroot is indigenous to the West Indies, where the native people used the powder. It was originally used to draw out toxins from people who were wounded by poison arrows. When using arrowroot, it should be mixed with cool liquids and then hot liquids can be added and cooked until the mixture thickens. Once the mixture thickens, it should be removed immediately from the heat source to prevent it from thinning. Two teaspoons of Arrowroot can be used to substitute for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. By using Arrowroot in homemade ice cream, it will prevent ice crystals from forming.
Another herb is that of Cardamom. This herb is a ground seed in the ginger family known as Elettaria cardamomum. The seeds are usually oval shaped and are between ¼ and 1 inch long. Cardamom comes from India, Guatemala, and Ceylon. The traditional use of Cardamom is that of curry blends; however most of the world’s crop is used in Arabic countries as a flavoring for coffee. Cardamom has an intense, pungent, sweet flavor. Back in the 4th century BC, Cardamom was used in India as a medicinal herb. Greeks and Romans imported the herb and used it as a digestive aid. In Sweden, it has become a more popular spice than that of cinnamon. When using Cardamom in cooking, it can be added to pastry, specialty breads as well as apple pie. In coffee it can be added by adding a little to ground coffee before brewing, then sweetened and topped with cream.
Marjoram is another herb that can be used in flavoring various meat dishes. Marjoram is a gray green leaf of Marjoran hortensis, which is a low growing member of the mint family. Although it does not come from the same plant, it is often confused or mistaken for oregano. Marjoram is grown in the United States and France. The herb has a delicate, sweet, pleasant flavor, although it does have a slightly bitter undertone. Marjoram is indigenous to the Mediterranean area. According to the Greeks and Romans if the plant grew on a grave, the person would enjoy eternal bliss in the afterlife. When using Marjoram, it should be crushed either by hand or in a mortar prior to use. Marjoram blends well with parsley, dill, basil, or thyme. It can be used in soups and stews.
Fish is a source of nourishment that is consumed in vast quantities. A few varieties of fish that are consumed by the public are Salmon, Haddock, Tilapia, Shrimp, and tuna. Salmon was previously considered to be a prized commodity and only consumed when it was in season. Now, Salmon can be raised in a farm-type setting and is available to the consumer throughout the year. Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study with the results showing that eating even a modest amount of fish on a weekly basis lowered the risk of death from coronary heart disease by 36%. The Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood will likely improve early brain development, and babies could benefit from the seafood that is consumed by their mothers during pregnancy and during nursing. Salmon is a versatile fish which can be grilled, sautéed, baked or poached. Salmon can be cooked with or without the skin. When grilling, sautéing, or poaching, the fish should only be turned once during cooking, and should begin with the skin side up. Salmon will be done when the flesh turns from translucent to opaque, or when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
Haddock is another fish that is consumed by people around the world. Haddock is a very popular fish that is sold fresh, smoked, frozen, or dried. It is also sold as a canned product. Haddock is a fish that has fine white flesh and can be cooked in the same ways as cod. However, unlike cod, Haddock does not take to salting well, so it is preserved by drying or by smoking. Haddock is an excellent source of protein and the meat is extremely lean. The scientific name for Haddock is Melanogrammus aeglefinus which comes from the family of Gadidae family of fish. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haddock) There are a variety of ways in which Haddock can be prepared which include, baking, frying, or smoking.
Tilapia is a food that is well liked as a food source. Tilapia is the common name for the fish that comes from the family of Cichilidae. Tilapias are found in a variety of fresh water sources. They are omnivorous and prefer to consume aquatic vegetation and detritus. Historically they have been of major importance in artisan fishing areas in Africa and have become increasingly important around the world. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilapia) Tilapia can be utilized in many food recipes such as stews, chowders, soups. It can also be fried or baked. (http://www.grouprecipes.com/s/talapia-fish/recipe/1/relevancy)
Shrimp is a shellfish that is widely consumed by the fish consumer. Shrimp are crustaceans that come from the infraorder of Caridea and are found around the world both in freshwater as well as salt water. Shrimp are widely caught and farmed for human consumption. Many of the larger species of shrimp are caught commercially and sold for consumption around the world. Shrimp recipes form a major part of the cuisine of various cultures. Examples of recipes that are used in shrimp consumption are jambalaya, okonomiyaki, poon choi, bagoong, Kerala, and also scampi. Shrimp is high in calcium as well as protein. Shrimp is also very high as a source of cholesterol ranging from 7 mg to 251 mg per 100 g of shrimp consumed. Of course the choleric content depends on the method of preparation that is used such as cream sauces will automatically increase the cholesterol levels consumed. (http://en/wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrimp) In order to consume shrimp, the shrimp must be prepared for consumption which includes de-shelling the shrimp as well as de-veining it. After the shrimp is de-shelled and de-veined, it is then rinsed under cold running water, at which point the shrimp is ready to put into the recipe.
Tuna is a wide variety of ocean dwelling fish which originates from the family of Scombridae. Tunas are extremely fast swimmers and have been clocked at 77 km/h (48 mph). Tuna, unlike most fish species have pink to dark red flesh. This color is mainly as a result of the tuna having greater quantities of myoglobin, an oxygen-binding molecule in the muscle tissue of the fish. Tuna is an important fish for the commercial fishing industry. (http://en/wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuna) Tuna can be used in a variety of recipes including appetizers, salads, or as a main dish such as casseroles or steaks. (http://www.tunafacts.com/) Tuna is typically easy to prepare for cooking. Generally, in recipes such as broiling the tuna filet, one would only need to oil the fish and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Broiling usually only takes about 8 to 10 minutes, turning it over once during cooking. Casseroles, typically call for the tuna in cans so there is very limited preparation before adding to the dish.
Root vegetables are a staple that are traditionally used during the winter and are used in dishes from roasts to soups. These vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals. A few examples of root vegetables are beetroots, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and turnips.
Beetroots are a vegetable that is related to the sugar beet and is believed to have developed from a wild species that is native to European seashores. Beetroots are a deep scarlet or burgundy color. It is generally used as a side dish for roast dinners, and summer salads or sauces. The young leaves of the vegetable can also be used in salads.
Carrots are thought to have originated from Afghanistan. They were once used by Middle Eastern royalty to aid in seduction. In the wild the carrot is actually white in color and only after cultivation by the Dutch in the 17th century did the orange color come about. There are also purple color carrots that are available in many supermarkets today. The carrot is a member of the parsley family and is related to parsnips, celery, and fennel. The carrot has a strong sweet flavor and is a good source of vitamin A, beta carotene, and potassium. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/back_to_basics/rootveg.shtml)
Parsnips are an additional member of the parsley family and are traditionally a winter vegetable. Parsnips have been widely used since the time of the Roman Empire. It was extremely popular in the Middle Ages as a result of its sweet flavor and nutritious flesh. It is widely used during the winter months in roasted dinners as well as in soups and other dishes. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/back_to_basics/rootveg.shtml)
Sweet potatoes originated from South America and may resemble the ordinary potato. It is usually pink in color but could also look more white or purple depending on the variety. As a key vegetable during the American Thanksgiving meal, the sweet potato is often baked or served as a casserole with the turkey. On its own, the sweet potato can be made into soups, fritters or simply served by itself. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/back_to_basics/rootveg.shtml)
Turnips are a vegetable that are well known. These vegetables can be traced back to prehistoric times in Europe. Turnips are primarily used for its roots although the leaves can also be eaten as spring greens. Turnips are a member of the Brassica genus family which includes cabbages. They vary in shape, size, and color. This vegetable is most commonly used in casseroles, but can also be mashed, or roasted. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/back_to_basics/rootveg.shtml)
The lily family contains such items as asparagus, chives, garlic, leeks, onion, and shallots. These vegetables contain various sulfur compounds, especially allicin and diallyl sulfate that have been suggest helping fight cancer. (http://www.calolive.org/foodservice/findings/findings_2002q3.html)
Leeks are a lily vegetable that comes from the Allium porrum species are a hardy biennial plant. The leek is related to the onion and has a mild, sweet flavor very much like an onion. The leek is most commonly used in European soups and stews but is also cooked whole to be served as a vegetable. The leek is native to eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East where it has been grown since ancient times. The vegetable became the national emblem of Wales after a victory by an army of Welshmen who wore leeks as a distinguishing sign. (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9047609/leek)
Asparagus is another vegetable that is derived from the lily vegetable family. It comes from the species within the genus Asparagus officinalis. This vegetable has been used as a culinary vegetable and owes its popularity to its delicate flavor and its diuretic properties. There are a few varieties of asparagus that are cultivated including white plants, purple and the more known variety with a green color. Asparagus can be boiled or steamed and then served with a light sauce most commonly hollandaise or even melted butter. Asparagus is one of the most nutritional vegetable and is an excellent source of folic acid. Folic acid is a necessary nutrient that is helps with prevention of live disease. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagus)
There are many spices that can be used in the cooking process. A few of the spices are Sage, Licorice, Nutmeg, and Fennel.
Sage comes from the family of Labiatae and is also referred to as Salvia officinalis. This spice is native to the northern Mediterranean coastal areas and still grows wild in the hills of Dalmatia, a region of Yugoslavia on the Adriatic Sea. Sage has been used for many years for its therapeutic virtues. Sage is a perfect accompaniment to foods such as pork, goose, and duck. Pea, bean and vegetables soups also benefit from sage, as does a mash potato dish or butter beans. Sage will complement any soup, stew, meat loaf, or roast meat dish. (http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/sage.html)
Licorice is another spice that is commonly used in different dishes. It is available as dried, woody pieces of root, as a powder and also as solid sticks of essence. Licorice has a sweet taste which is similar to anise. In culinary uses, Licorice is mostly used as a confectionery flavoring. The dried root need only be kept dry and will store indefinitely. The powdered licorice should be kept in air-tight containers. (http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/licorice.html)
Another spice that is widely used is that of Nutmeg. Nutmeg is derived from the nutmeg tree which is native to the Moluccas Islands, and is now grown in the West Indies. The tree produces two spices, mace and nutmeg. Nutmeg is within the family of Myristicaceae. Nutmeg is generally used in spicy and sweet dishes such as pies, puddings, custards, and cookies. When using it in soups it works well with tomatoes, split pea, chicken or black beans. It can also be used to complement egg dishes and vegetables like cabbage, spinach, broccoli, beans, onions and eggplants. (http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/nutmeg.html)
Fennel is another spice that has many culinary uses. Fennel is derived from the family of Ulmblliferae and is native to the Mediterranean. The fennel plant is also grown in India, the orient, Australia, South America and the United States. Fennel can be used in almost all fish dishes, especially in a bouillon for poaching fish and seafood. It is used to flavor breads, cakes and confectionery. The Chinese use fennel in the Five Spices and in some curry powders. There are also several liquors that are flavored with fennel including gin, akvavit and was also used in distilling absinthe. (http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/fennel.html)
Fruits are widely used in culinary recipes and have been used for centuries. Four examples of fruits are the apple, strawberries, plums, and peaches.
The apple is a tree that bears fruit and belongs to the rose family Rosaceae. It is one of the most cultivated tree fruits. The fruit matures in autumn and can be used in a variety of recipes. Apples can be eaten alone or in pies. The apple can be canned, juiced or even fermented to create cider or vinegars. Apples can also be used to create apple butter and jellies. (http://en/wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple)
The strawberry also comes from the family Rosaceae. The strawberry can be used in a variety of recipes. Examples of recipes that involve this fruit are fruit pizza, Zabaglione with fresh berries, Salads, sorbets, and jellies. (http://whatscookingamerica.net/Strawberries.htm)
Plums are also a tree fruit that can be used in many ways. The fruit can be canned, frozen, and also made into jams and jellies. Plums are grown in Europe, the United States, and also in Japan. (http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1404.html) The plum is a stone fruit tree from the genus Prunus. Depending on the season, typically the spring and summer, the plum is available throughout the United States.
The peach is another fruit that is derived from the prunus persica, a subfamily of Rosaceae, which is a tree that is native to China. The tree produces a fruit by the same name, the peach. Historically the peach was produced in China, Japan, Iran, Turkey and other Mediterranean areas. More recently, the peach has been grown and cultivated throughout the United States. The peach can be eaten alone as a snack or can be mixed in recipes such as pies, sorbets, or soups. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peach)
All of the foods that have been discussed can be found across the country in most common supermarkets. However, certain vegetables and or fruits are only available in certain locations depending on the growing season. An example of this peaches or plums which are only available in the northeast during the spring and summer months. There are many benefits that can be obtained by consuming any of the foods discussed in this paper, as well as enjoyed by utilizing them in different meals that are prepared at home or in restaurants throughout the country.
California Ripe Olives site. http://www.calolive.org/foodservice/findings/findings_2002q3.html. 30 March 2007.
CulinaryCafe site. http://www.culinarycafe.com/Spices_Herbs/ 26 March 2007.
The epicenter site. http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/. 30 March 2007.
Wikipedia site. http://en/wikipedia.org. 30 March 2007.
Whats Cooking America site. http://whatscookingameria.net/Strawberries.htm. 30 March 2007.