History of Food: Pasta

The first form of food similar to pasta was in the writings of Horace where thin strips of dough were fried and served with spices in the 1st century B.C.E. A few centuries later, we see an ancient ancestor of modern day lasagna come out in the form of lagana. It was described to be consisted of sheets of dough with meat filling in between. In the second century, the dough started to be made with flour and water instead of juice from lettuce. Later, Arabs adopted a similar form of noodle in the 5th century and lead to the Italians making thin strip noodle pasta.

 

If we jump to the 15th century, dried pasta was very valued because it could be stored for very long periods of time.That’s why many exploring ships brought dried pasta to the New World. Believe it or not, tomato sauce was only invented in the 18th century! Before this, people would just eat pasta with their hands. Now, people eat it with forks because the tomato would get too messy without it.

 

Today, the average Italian eats about sixty pounds of pasta per year, while the average American eats about twenty pounds of pasta per year. Writings suggest it originated in Italy, but why is it popular in North America? It’s because Italian immigration to the Americas that we love pasta so much. Italians have also had a mass immigration to South Africa, making spaghetti and meatballs a major part of Italian cuisine.

 

Do you like pasta? How do you eat yours? Comment, if you want, I guess.

 

Mes Cousins Francais (My French Cousins)

Photo Credit: Jim G

Photo Credit: Jim G

My French cousins just finished visiting the United States. They went all around the country and spent one of their days visiting my family. They live in Lyon, a nice, older city in east-central France. This tourist destination is only a two hour train ride to Paris. The two parents are Sophie and Arnaud. They have three kids. Clement is 12, Julie is 10, and Hortense is 6.

Both parents speak English and the oldest child, Clement, speaks some as well. Other than Clement’s small knowledge of the English language, there was a difficult language barrier. Gestures were key in communicating with the kids. Pointing and acting out what we were saying also helped.

I noticed that my French cousins were much different from the average American child. When they first walked in they were greeted by my dog who is the smallest, most-lovable creature in the whole entire world. The kids were frightened and backed away. They weren’t used to seeing dogs in Lyon. They were also fascinated by the elliptical in our basement. They each wanted a ride on the wondrous machine. My cousins were mesmerized by MarioKart on the Wii. They were jumping up and down on the couch and seemed so excited and happy even though they always came in last.

Their interests were much different. Each member of the family played an instrument, and the kids who played the piano for me were really good. In the United States, lots of children play instruments, but the most popular activity is playing sports. We were all playing catch, and they made me look like the most athletic person in the world. If you don’t know me, I’m not that athletic. They couldn’t throw or catch the ball very well. In France the main sports are football (known as soccer in the U.S.) and cycling. In France the lower portion of the body is stronger, and in America the upper portion of the body is stronger. The French are good musicians, and Americans are good athletes.

Meeting my French cousins was great. It was neat to experience a different culture up close and personal. I know they enjoyed visiting the United States. Hopefully one day, I will visit France and enjoy their country as much as they enjoyed ours.

Angkor Wat: The World’s Largest Religious Monument

Angkor Wat, located in Siem Reap Province in Cambodia, is the world’s largest religious monument. “Angkor” comes from Sanskrit and means “city” while Wat is Khmer for “temple.” Cambodians are usually referred to as Khmer people and Thai are referred to as Siem. So, the name Siem Reap means “Thai Defeat,” but that’s another story. Angkor Wat also appears on the national flag of Cambodia.

Angkor Wat was originally built in the 12th century by king Suryavarman II as a Hindu temple. It was a dedication to Vishnu. Later, in the 16th century, Buddhism took over and Angkor Wat was converted to a Buddhist temple. The Buddhists tried to paint the giant wall mural depicting several scenes from Hinduism and in some parts, you can actually touch the carved stone on the mural.

Angkor Wat lies on an island 1km x 1.5km with a 1 km wide moat on all sides. There are two entrances: the front in the west and the back in the east. Angkor Wat, unlike most temples, faces to the west instead of the east to signify that Suryavarman was intending to be buried there. Inside the temple, there is a central point where you can see in all four directions, many intricate and sometimes unfinished carvings, and a big central tower which was the king’s tomb. The central has really steep stairs that you could be afraid of going up and down.

Overall, Angkor Wat is a great place and has a lot of extra history and details to it, and it is also a great tourist destination.

Hehe, It’s a Lizard!

I took this picture of a really cool lizard in Cambodia.

Gods Versus Demons

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Khmer BBQ

I took this picture in Cambodia of a Khmer hot pot barbecue. They give you all the raw ingredients and you cook them yourself.

Solid Palm Sugar

I took this picture in The Siem Reap Province in Cambodia. They take the liquid palm sugar from the palm fruit and cook it until it is solid like a sugar cube except all natural.

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