this is a silly question, but what do you mean, "the flavor profiles might have shifted?"
Not at all silly! I’m referring to the fact that changes in manufacturing processes, ingredients, and breeding of both flora and fauna mean that the food we eat today may taste significantly different from the food of 100 years ago and yet we still refer to it by the same name.
The most well-known example of this, of course, is the Gros Michel/Cavendish issue; until the 1950s, Gros Michel bananas were the most common export, but now mostly in the US we eat Cavendish bananas, which have a different flavor. Cooking with Gros Michel and Cavendish bananas are going to get you different end results because they taste different; Rex Stout’s banana bread won’t taste like Sam Starbuck’s, and also any seasoning in the recipe (spices, etc) is aimed at complimenting the Gros Michel, and may not work as well on the Cavendish. (This is in theory, I don’t know if he has a banana bread recipe or if it was written pre or post Cavendish.)
The same goes for a lot of fruits and vegetables – we haven’t necessarily changed breeds but we’ve certainly begun aggressively breeding for flavor or size or color, and we’ve also begun importing from hundreds or thousands of miles away, affecting freshness and flavor along the way. Which means a tomato today is a different beast from the tomato of fifty years ago.
In one of the Nero Wolfe short stories, Wolfe gives a recipe for corn: roasted in the hottest possible oven for forty minutes, husked at the table, and served with only butter, salt, and pepper, “it is ambrosia”. But that’s for corn grown at a farm less than three hours from Wolfe’s home, picked less than half a day before it was cooked, and picked by hand just as it came fully ripe – Wolfe knows there’s something wrong and solves a murder because one delivery of his corn is of poor quality (too old, and picked too far previously). Stout acknowledges in his recipe that it’s unrealistic to be able to get corn like that, but corn grown from different strains, picked in Mexico, sorted by machine and shipped to Chicago where it sits in a misting box on a shelf for a few days before I buy it and take it home, that’s going to taste different. I’m not slamming the globalization of food (though elements of it are certainly an issue), but it’s simply a fact: they won’t taste the same. My corn, due to breeding and preservation techniques, might even taste better! But it will be a different taste. And when you’re dealing with the delicacy of flavor that Rex Stout often does, that can cause real issues.
This extends to all kinds of things. Flour is milled differently now, and made from different grains; most things that used sugar cane or sugar beet sweetening prior to 1970 now use high fructose corn syrup (though this is a trend that is slowly reversing).
Processed foods, like macaroni and cheese boxes or Cheerios or Jello, have changed ingredients to improve flavor or ease of cooking or health benefits to the people who eat them. Meat is fed differently (beef being fed primarily on corn because it bulks cows up like crazy is the most evident example) and that affects the flavor of the meat, too.
This gets even more bonkers the deeper you go. The reason modern recipes, especially baking recipes, often call for both butter and milk is that they used to call for cream, but people stopped buying cream and started buying lower fat milk, so now you have to use your lower-fat milk plus butter added to simulate cream. A recipe that called for cream was less likely to be made when people stopped buying cream, and new recipes in the second half of the 20th century were primarily the province of ad companies, who wanted you to buy their product and cook with it. If people were more likely to cook with a product that used butter and milk instead of cream, the ad companies would design recipes that way.
So if you’re looking at a recipe from before the 1980s or so, understand that the recipe is designed with ingredients that might be vastly different from, and yet share a name with, the ingredients of today. Which affects the flavor of the finished product.
Time travel is so weird, am I right?
If you enjoy reading about food history, consider passing me a ko-fi!
“We were very lucky that we hooked up with Mott the Hoople and we were the warm up act and we went all round the U.K. with them–it worked out just perfect. And then the guys from Mott said would you like to do the same thing in America?” - Brian May
4th photograph -
Brixton Market, October 1972 by Armet Francis, 19 magazine.
Francis bent commissions to his own purpose. His subversive “Fashion Shoot, Brixton Market” (1973) shows a black fashion model dressed in pink, twirling an umbrella in the middle of a drizzly Railton Road. “I wanted to do the opposite of Vogue magazine,” he explains. “This is us in our own situation in the market . . . but it’s fashion, so they can’t complain that it was too much like social documentary.”
(…) We did it because of our passion for the music drove us. Today that passion still makes us feel like eighteen-year-olds. But mostly it’s seeing a fan wrap his or her arms around one of us and hearing the words like “Your music got me through rehab… Your music kept me afloat… Your music saved my life.” - Joe Perry, Rocks. My life in and outside of Aerosmith
And so did with mine. He wasn’t afraid to dream. Even if no one were by his side. It was just a one hit. A moment. But that was enough. Because he was the one. The long-lost toxic brother. Cold eyes and fire in the soul. Hard body and the heart of gold. The shooting star. One of the greatest guitarists the world has ever seen. Unbroken. Phenomenon. An icon. An idol. The legend.
wish you strength, wish you health, wish you love, wish you simply… happiness. Wish you forever. Thank you forever.
the sun will soon set. Night will come. And tomorrow, a new day. For you - always. God bless. Anthony Joseph Pereira is 67 years old today.
George Harrison and Olivia Trinidad Arias waiting for the Dark Horse Tour band to clear customs, 2 November 1974, as included in the Living in the Material World book
Photo: Henry Grossman
“I fell for her immediately. She is a very calming influence. She has been very supportive and we are blissfully happy together. I told her I didn’t want her doing all that typing. We started going with each other, and four years later we married.” - George Harrison [x]
* * *
“Before she became Olivia Harrison in 1978, she was Olivia Trinidad Arias, an Angeleno whose grandparents immigrated to Los Angeles from Mexico. She grew up in Hawthorne, hometown of the Beach Boys, which turned out to be a major point of interest for George when she gave him a tour of her old neighborhood. She was working at A&M Records, which distributed Dark Horse releases at the time, and started chatting with Harrison when he’d call about business. They found they had musical and philosophical interests in common and soon began seeing each other regularly. ‘I was from outside of his world,’ she says. 'I was shelter from the storm. I was simple, and he needed some simplicity at that point.’ She says she never really stopped to think about the implications of getting involved with a musician, much less an ex-Beatle. 'You can’t really think about it that way, otherwise you’re just playacting.’ How will she cope when all the projects are completed? Is she simply postponing the feelings of loss with all the activity? Those are questions she doesn’t worry about, and she knows what George would have said on the subject. ‘One of his favorite things to say was, “Be here now,”’ she says. His song by that title, from his 1973 album 'Living in the Material World,’ remains one of her favorites, and it’s one she plays any time she feels in need of a booster shot of moral support. 'Sometimes he and Dhani would be talking and Dhani would ask, “Well what if this happens?” or “What if that happens?”’ she says. 'George would say, “Be here now. Be here now.”'” - “Here now, she lives for George” by Randy Newman, Los Angeles Times, 9 March 2005 [x]
What makes me feel good is that after all these years, the ideas that Joe Perry came up with worked and all the kids loved it - Steven Tyler
67 years have passed. 67 years of life we all can definitively call unique. Extraordinary. Wild. Secret. Dark. And finally - full of love. Full of passion. And so we can call the man who’s living this life for 67 years today. Enigmatic. Inconspicious. Unimpressed. Hard. But then - romantic. Sensitive. Loyal. Unbeaten. The greatest.
67 years old today. And still. And always. Happy birthday, Mr Joe fuckin’ Perry [September the 10th, 2017]
“Its important to realize that if the opposite of what you believe in didn’t exist, you’d have nothing to believe in. Without "bad,” we wouldn’t know what to call “good.” Without “lies,” we wouldn’t know what “truth” is. Always be accepting.“