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Random Innovative Foods Born Out Of Cultural Tragedies

  • Fry Bread Was Born Out Of A Government Food Program on Random Innovative Foods Born Out Of Cultural Tragedies

    (#5) Fry Bread Was Born Out Of A Government Food Program

    Despite its deceptively simple composition, fry bread carries a heavy historical context. The topic of the classic Western confection is hotly contested among Native Americans.

    Seemingly all cultures have their own variation on deep-fried bread. A cross between a funnel cake and naan, fry bread is made from a soft, salty flatbread dropped into a cast-iron skillet filled with hot oil or lard.

    When Native Americans were forced to resettle throughout the dawn of American history, many were sent to remote, barren lands that could not be farmed. In order to prevent total starvation, the United States government provided a "commodity food program" which provided Native peoples with a meager offering of flour, lard, salt, sugar, and canned goods. This did not leave many dietary options, thus fry bread was born.

    Many Native Americans view fry bread as a symbol of oppression, while others find power in its diasporic reach, a unifying experience shared by all Native peoples.

  • Gumbo Came Out Of Oppression In The American South on Random Innovative Foods Born Out Of Cultural Tragedies

    (#4) Gumbo Came Out Of Oppression In The American South

    Gumbo, like many other traditional African American dishes, was born out of struggle, necessity, and ingenuity. Several notable food traditions originated during slavery, and gumbo is no exception. To this day, it contains many holdovers from the African diet.

    Of the countless gumbo recipes, the ingredients and methods used to prepare the dish are African in origin and were brought to America through the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. While there are numerous regional variations, most gumbos feature Andouille sausage with at least one or two other meats, bell pepper, celery, okra, and onions all stewed in a stock and flour based roux - a French method of making sauce enhanced by uniquely American Creole culture. Shellfish is a common addition, especially in areas near water.

    Gumbo’s name is derived from "ki ngombo," which is the term for okra in West African Bantu dialect. Okra is a key ingredient that is used to thicken the broth. This process also has its roots in African cooking - the technique is called "soupikandia," a Senegalese stew similar in composition to gumbo.

    While it is impossible to decontextualize gumbo from its origins, it has absolutely taken on a life of its own in the collective consciousness of the American South. People are fiercely loyal to their gumbo of choice - making claims about the perfect color of roux or whether the "Holy Trinity" is real is a surefire way to get many New Orleans residents or persons of Creole origin fired up.

  • The Bánh Mì Is A Fusion Of Vietnamese And French Culture on Random Innovative Foods Born Out Of Cultural Tragedies

    (#6) The Bánh Mì Is A Fusion Of Vietnamese And French Culture

    Considered a luxurious food truck mainstay in the modern United States, the bánh mì is a working-class Vietnamese meal with French colonial roots. When the French missionaries touched down in Vietnam in 1887, they integrated their foods, language, and customs into the Vietnamese lifestyle as they exacted their colonial control over the region. The French were ousted after the Vietnamese victory in the Second Indochina conflict in 1954, which began the greater cultural revolution in Vietnam that would span America's involvement in Vietnam and beyond. In the end, Vietnam decided to retain one valuable French asset - the baguette.

    While there is much room for interpretation, the bánh mì's core ingredients are pickled vegetables (usually daikon and carrot), cilantro, hot peppers, cucumbers, and a protein - typically Vietnamese chả lụa (pork sausage) or French pâté. The most crucial element is the crisp, fluffy French baguette, which is sliced lengthwise to accommodate the core.

    "Bánh" roughly translates to "bread" in Vietnamese. Northern Vietnam called the sandwich "bánh tây," which means "Western bread," while those in South Vietnam referred to it as "bánh mì," which translates to "wheat bread." During the Indochina colonial period, the sandwich originally catered to the French palate. It was not until the French exodus that the sandwich began to take its modern form, using more traditional Vietnamese ingredients.

    When over a million citizens fled Vietnam in the years following the end of Western intervention in Vietnam, the bánh mì traveled everywhere that the refugees landed. The sandwich took especially well to the American market. Vietnamese food blogger Andrea Nguyen offers her perspective on the bánh mì's trajectory:

    Crispy bread! Fatty mayo and meats! Crunchy pickles! Hot chilies! Refreshing cucumber and herbs! It's pretty, not overly mysterious for people interested in exploring new cuisines. It's varied in fresh vegetables, light flavors, and people can more or less identify what they're eating. Vietnamese cuisine blends East Asia with Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the West. Bánh mì is the perfect hybrid.

  • Spam Became A Staple In The Philippines Because Of Unprecedented American Fears  on Random Innovative Foods Born Out Of Cultural Tragedies

    (#3) Spam Became A Staple In The Philippines Because Of Unprecedented American Fears 

    While canned meat carries a class stigma in the United States, its impact and utility cannot be denied. Spam is often mocked as "mystery meat;" it's the namesake of unwanted web junk mail, after all.

    If you are seriously wondering what Spam is, be assured that its ingredients are less distressing than what's in hot dogs. Spam is made of pork shoulder, ham, water, salt, potato starch (to bind the materials into their recognizable loaf shape), sugar, and sodium nitrite.

    Invented in 1937, Spam became internationally popular during WWII. The invention of a shelf-stable, sealed protein was novel and practical for soldiers. Spam was delivered to American occupations all across the globe, and it had an unexpected cultural impact on the Philippines, which was colonized by the United States from 1899 to 1946.

    Afraid of contamination, American military personnel stationed in the Philippines did not eat native food. Instead, they imported their own vacuum sealed foods, and Spam was a popular menu item. While the generally well-to-do American soldiers and politicians viewed the canned meat as an inconvenience and a degradation of their values, it was considered a luxurious import by Filipinos.

    After the Philippines gained independence from the United States, Spam became a cultural mainstay in the Filipino diet. Some tasty examples of the unique Filipino preparations of Spam include Spamsilog - a Spam-infused rendition of the classic Filipino breakfast of sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg). There is even a special Tocino Spam, replicating the flavor of Filipino-style cured bacon.

  • Milk Bars Came Out Of Rationing In The Polish People's Republic on Random Innovative Foods Born Out Of Cultural Tragedies

    (#7) Milk Bars Came Out Of Rationing In The Polish People's Republic

    During the later years of the Eastern Bloc era, Poland's debt became untenable. Due to a bungled reparations deal with Germany at the end of WWII, Poland never fully recovered financially and was left with no other choice than to obtain credit from the West throughout the 1970s. By the early 1980s, it became clear to the Western creditors that Poland was still struggling to make ends meet and could not pay off the loan, which had soared to $16 billion by 1982.

    During this period, Polish citizens had to abide by strict rations on basic household goods, and foods previously taken for granted were no longer available. As a result, a new culinary culture emerged, and most families ate at home, in canteens, and in "milk bars" - inexpensive cafeterias that served simple dairy-based entrees.

    Popular milk bar offerings included every configuration of egg one could imagine, pancakes, dumplings, and soups. While many of the food traditions of the era disappeared in 1989, milk bars are still considered a crucial and important part of Polish history. Retaining their Eastern kitsch retro style, they remain a valuable part of the Polish tourism industry.

    Milk bars even play a crucial atmospheric role in A Clockwork Orange.

  • Monterey Jack Cheese Is Named After A Western Settler Who Took Land From Spanish Missionaries  on Random Innovative Foods Born Out Of Cultural Tragedies

    (#10) Monterey Jack Cheese Is Named After A Western Settler Who Took Land From Spanish Missionaries

    Before the Mexican-American conflict, Spanish-Franciscan fathers established a mission in Monterey Bay, CA. The rest of the land in the area was occupied by Spanish and later Mexican farmers, who operated under the ranchos land grant system. Cattle was a particularly lucrative Spanish import that generated one of the area's most valuable delicacies, a creamy white cheese called "queso blanco."

    Following the annexation of California to the United States at the end of the fighting in 1848, a deluge of gold-hungry settlers poured into the new state, including David Jack, a Scottish land speculator. Soon after the Gold Rush began, the newly minted Monterey city officials began to process the land claims of the ranchos owners and the missionaries, who were theoretically going to maintain ownership of their properties.

    In 1853, after years of bureaucratic stalling and fumbling, the United States Land Claims Commission put 29,698 acres of land previously owned by the ranchos up for auction. At this point, the former denizens of Monterey were financially exhausted and unable to recuperate, so David Jack and the attorney meant to represent Monterey purchased the property for $1,000.02.

    Though it was originally created by the Franciscan fathers who preceded him, Jack realized that he could use his newly acquired cattle ranches and dairies to make money off queso blanco. He marketed it as "Jack’s Cheese" and the popular product eventually became known as Monterey Jack. 

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About This Tool

During the development of human civilization, many innovative foods were born. Food custom is a compound custom under the influence of many factors, especially subject to the dual constraints of economic and nature. In famine or war periods, the people were at a loss for the preservation of perishable foods such as fresh vegetables and seafood, forcing more food innovations to emerge.

The random tool introduced random 10 innovative foods that were born in some cultural tragedies, few people know that spam is a staple in the Philippines because of unprecedented American fears, here is more information about other foods.

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