The wobbly fruit preserve ‘jam’ serves as a delicious topping for cupcakes, cheesecakes and breads in the present time. The ...
The wobbly fruit preserve ‘jam’ serves as a delicious topping for cupcakes, cheesecakes and breads in the present time. The jam created by today’s adept artisans and loved by food connoisseurs isn’t a thing of modern times but finds its record in the first known cookbook.
Looking back to the past, one finds that jam’s journey has been ages long. Kings and Queens relished it, sailors were dependent on its nutritional value and sustainability (being a fruit preserve) and military troops ate it to get quick energy for the battle.
Not much information is historically available as to who invented jam, in particular, but there are instances about how it has delighted the kings, saints, soldiers, scientists and alchemists with its taste, color and smell.
De Re Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking or Culinary Matters), the first recorded cookbook that is still in print today, mentions the first recipe of jam. Compiled around late fourth or early in the fifth century, a famous Roman merchant and epicure Marcus Gavius Apicius wrote this cookbook.
In the plain form, jam was nothing but a soft fruit heated with sugar or honey and then cooled down and stored. With the advent of crusades, the soldiers brought back the process of fruit preservation and the complex concoctions from the Middle East.
The popularity of jam as a delicacy was more and it wasn’t restricted to just being a way of eating fruit. As a courage-booster, French heroine Joan of Arc used to eat quince jam every time before going for battle.
French astrologer and famed alchemist Nostradamus believed that jam was the source of beauty and happiness. He loved jam so much that in 1552, he wrote an entire treatise on jam and preserves including a love potion version.
As a tale goes, Mary Queen of Scots (also known as Mary I of Scotland or Mary Stuart) had sea-sickness. So doctor cured her ailments by whipping up a concoction of orange peel and sugar. However, the word most probably comes from ‘marmelo’, the Portuguese for quince.
King Louis XIV was an ardent lover of jam who ate jam at the end of his every magnificent feast. Served in the special ornate silver dishes, the jams and jellies served to him were made from the fruit gardens and glasshouses at Versailles. Jams of pineapple and various other interesting flavors were made for him.
At the time of World War II, the anxiety about a shortage of food prevailed. So, in 1940, the Women’s Institute was given a government grant of £1,400 to buy sugar for jam. This resulted in preparation of 1,631 tons of preserves in over 5,000 ‘preservation centres’ in farm kitchens, village halls and sheds.
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