Alan's Cookbooks

Happy Passover! The passover Meal and the Seder plate -    

Each of the components of the meal is symbolic. The food is eaten in ritual order and its meaning and symbolism is discussed.

The first item on the Seder Plate is MAROR, a bitter herb (some use horseradish, others Romaine lettuce) that symbolizes the bitterness of the slavery.

The second item on the the Seder plate is the CHAROSET which is a chunky brown mixture of apples, nuts and wine, that symbolizes the mortar that was used by the Hebrews during their slavery.

The third item on the plate is the KARPAS, as green-vegetable usually celery signifying the onset of spring. The celery is dipped into the saltwater and symbolizes the tears of the Hebrews under the Egyptian rule. Parsley is often used as Karpas.

The fourth item is the “Z’roa”, a roasted shank bone is used to symbolize the Passover sacrifice that was made every year at the Temple in Jerusalem.

The fifth item is the BEITZAH , a roasted egg that symbolizes the Festival Sacrifice that Jews used to make at the Temple in Jerusalem. The egg has also come to symbolize spring and rebirth, however that was not the original intent of the egg on the Seder Plate.

Additionally, there are three MATZAHS on the table to symbolize the three groups of Jews, the priests, the Levites, and the Israelites.
The Cheese Story - Camembert Cheese Article - Alan Coxon   
I have recently just returned from filming a pilot TV cookery show over in Normandy called the Food Archaeologist, a series about the history of food, a personal passion that I have held for many years. Normandy in particular is a personal favorite of mine, a smorgasbord of delicious foods and beverages at every turn. 

Product information of the week : Mango -    
 What’s in a name?   The name possibly comes from the Tamil for fruit tree, via the Portuguese “manga” or from the Malay “mang” meaning tree.

Historical   India is the native land of the mango where it has flourished for several thousand years.  It also features largely in Indian mythology and in Buddhist rituals.The Portuguese took them to West Indies, Africa and Brazil in the 16th Century and where they are still cultivated.  Today, South Africa is a major producer and world supplier. 

 Fact   Mangoes are from the same family as cashew and pistachio nuts.  The fruits vary in size, from tiny egg shaped wild varieties to the large sweet ones.     There are over 2,500 difference varieties in all.             In India, they are usually picked before they are ripe to make tarts and preserves.  

Health & Fitness   Mangoes are extremely rich in Vitamins A, B and C.  They are, however quite high in sugar.

A medium sized fruit contains around 14 per cent sugar. It is also advised not to drink neither milk water nor alcohol for up to two hours afterwards, as this may cause stomach pains for some people.  These are not dangerous but can prove uncomfortable. 

 Hint & Tip   Store your ripe mangoes in the refrigerator; this will keep them for 4-6 days. If they are firm, keep them at room temperature until softened.  Also take care not to get the mango juice onto clothing, as it has a habit of staining.   
History of the Easter Simnal Cake - alan   (AVAILABLE NOW)
The Simnal Cake was traditionally eaten on Easter Day and during the late 17th century female servants would bake this fruit rich Easter cake to take home on their rare visits to their mother's on Mothering Sunday which was the fourth Sunday during the Lent period.
The Christian fasting and repenting period of Lent ends on Easter Sunday and a Simnel cake helps to mark the end of the forty days of Lent and gives people a tasty treat and marks the celebration of Easter time. Some people still call the fourth Sunday during Lent Simnel Sunday.

The word Simnel comes from the Latin word Simila which means fine wheaten flour. The cake was traditionally made from this fine wheaten flour.

Historic origination of the word "ORANGE" -    
Unlike so many , this word does not come from the Latin word for orange, citrus aurentium; instead, from the ancient Sanskrit naga ranga, which literally means "fatal indigestion for elephants." In certain traditions the orange, not the apple, is the fruit responsible for original sin. There was an ancient Malay fable which made its way into the Sanskrit tongue around the Seventh or Eighth Centuries B.C. linking the orange to the sin of gluttony and has an elephant as the culprit.
Apparently, one day an elephant was passing through the forest, when he found a tree unknown to him in a clearing, bowed downward by its weight of beautiful, tempting oranges; as a conclusion , the elephant ate so many that he burst. Many years later a man stumbled upon the scene and noticed the fossilized remains of the elephant with many orange trees growing from what had been its stomach. The man then exclaimed, "Amazing! What a naga ranga (fatal indigestion for elephants)!"
The originations of the word : CHOCOLATE - alan coxon   

Comes from the Spanish , which itself came from the word Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs) word "tchocoatl."
 The first Spaniard to encounter the substance in Mexico was a guy called Hernan Cortes, who shortly after his initial reception (and apparently the only friendly one, I might add at that time ) at the Court of Moctezuma in the island-city of Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City) in 1519.
 After highly praising the chocolate-based drink and inquiring how it was made, he was told that one started with "cacahuaquchtl" powder (the origin of the word "cocoa"), which was then boiled in water and combined with chilli, musk and honey (and ground maize if you were going off to war and needed additional calories).

It ws highly prized and cocoa beans were used as currency, for 30 beans you could obtain a slave, and for 5 beans you could obtain a lady for special services !!( that`s one way of putting it !!).


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