Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Americans!
I hope your day is filled with delicious barbecue and fireworks galore! As this is a blog that celebrates diversity and culture, I thought it might be fun to showcase the origins of our most cherished Fourth of July customs and treats.
Barbecue derives from the Spanish word barbacoa. When Spanish settlers arrived in the New World, they observed native island tribes preparing meat over a wooden rack. This method of cooking heated the meat while avoiding direct contact with flames. Utilizing the brilliant cooking style throughout their conquests north, Spanish conquistadors introduced the technique to present-day America. Colonists adapted barbacoa to the present-day barbecue we enjoy today. Read this awesome guide to the regional BBQ of the USA.
Historians claim that the origin of the beloved hot dog begins in Frankfurt, Germany during the 15th century. 17th century German butcher, Johann Georghehner, created the “daschund”, a smaller version of the typical sausage during the time. Around the same period, the people of Vienna, Austria indulged in the “weiner”, an equally small version of the typical sausage. The American hot dog craze officially began after the mass influx of European immigrants during the 19th century. There is much dispute over who was the first person to set up a hot dog stand in America. Initially bearing the name “daschund”, numerous German immigrants sold the sausages in carts around American cities. German immigrant Antonoine Feuchtwanger is noted as the man who truly invented the “hot dog” we know today. To prevent his St. Louis patrons from burning their hands, he provided them with gloves to wear while eating the sausages. After losing profits with the gloves, Feuchtwanger's wife suggested serving the sausages on a bun. What would the world be without women? Oh that's right! Nothing.
The origins of ice cream are ancient. Both Alexander the Great and Nero indulged in icy snow blended with honey or fruit. Tang dynasty rulers ate another icy treat that incorporated milk and camphor. During medieval times, the Arabic chilled beverage, sharabt, made its way into European culture bearing the new name sherbet. Eventually, the Italians created another rendition of sherbet by adding milk called sorbetto, or sorbet. By this time, early renditions of ice cream were enjoyed throughout Europe. Early American settlers took European iced dessert recipes along with them. By 1790, the first ice cream parlor opened in New York.
Fireworks date back to ancient China. Around 200 B.C. , the Chinese roasted firecracker bamboo to cast away evil. Later, around 700 A.D. , the Chinese upped their firecracker game by using an innovative gunpowder mixture. The substance was stuffed into bamboo and thrown into fire. By the 10th century, the mixture was not only used to cast away evil, but also as an exciting addition to public celebrations and events. Using the same technology developed for firing air explosives on the battleground, the Chinese generated fireworks displays. Through trade, fireworks influenced European traditions as well. European nobility greatly enjoyed putting on fireworks shows during the 15th century. Inevitably, the Europeans brought the fireworks tradition to the New World. Ever since our nation's first anniversary, the Fourth of July has never been celebrated without mass fireworks displays.
What is your favorite American treat?
(answer in comment section)
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