20 Foods You Might Not Know Were Named After Places

iStock.com/FotografiaBasica
iStock.com/FotografiaBasica

Back in the days before supermarkets and microwaves, foods were frequently named for the places they were grown, manufactured, or produced. While most people know that European wines and cheeses are often named for their place of origin, here are a number of other less-expected foods that can also be traced back to a spot on the map.

1. LIMA BEANS

From the capital of Peru, wouldn't you know.

2. FIG NEWTON

Nope, they’re not named after Sir Isaac. The cookies were originally named for Newton, Massachusetts, not far from the town of Cambridge where they were originally produced in the 1890s. The Kennedy Biscuit Company named many of their products after surrounding towns, including cookies and crackers called Shrewsbusy, Harvard, and Beacon Hill, which were apparently less popular.

3. MONTEREY JACK 

Monterey Jack was first made in Monterey, California, by the dairyman and reportedly brutal landlord David Jack. Other cheeses named for places include Colby (Wisconsin); Manchego (produced in the La Mancha region of Spain); Asiago, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano (from locations in Italy); Munster, Camembert, Brie, Roquefort (sites in France); Edam and Gouda (places in the Netherlands); and Cheddar and Stilton (locations in England). 

4. VICHYSSOISE SOUP

A soup honoring Vichy, France, created by Ritz-Carlton chef Louis Diat in New York, and modeled on the potato-and-leek soups his mother made him while Diat was growing up in France.

5. PEACH

Native to China but named for Persia, where Europeans first encountered it. According to John Ayto’s Glutton’s Glossary, in Greek the fruit was called melon persikon, and in Latin malum persicum, both meaning “Persian apple.” In post-classical times the Latin term became persicum, which eventually evolved into peach.

6. MARTINI

By some accounts, the eternally chic drink was named for the Californian town of Martinez. However, others say the name relates to a New York bartender with the name. Whatever the origin, the moniker more recently relates to Italian manufacturers of vermouth Martini and Rossi. 

7. CURRANT

Originally called raysons of coraunce (with various spellings) in English, a name derived from the Old French raisins de Corinthe, or “raisins of Corinth”—as in Corinth, Greece. 

8. WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE

According to Ayto’s book, the 19th century in England was full of retired military men attempting to recreate the pungent sauces they’d encountered during their travels abroad. One of the few of these attempts to survive to the present was supposedly concocted by a Sir Marcus Sandys out of vinegar, molasses, garlic, shallots, tamarinds, and various spices. Sandys supposedly took it to his local grocers in Worcester, England—a shop named Lea and Perrins—who began manufacturing it commercially as Worcestershire sauce in the 1830s.

9. PHEASANT

From the Greek for "Phasian bird," a reference to the Phasis River in present-day Georgia, where the fowl were plentiful. 

10. CANTALOUPE

Said to have been first cultivated in Cantalupo, Italy, which was supposedly the site of a papal summer residence. However, this oft-repeated etymology might not be as straightforward as it seems: In Toponymity: An Atlas of Words, author John Bemelmans Marciano notes that there at least 10 towns named Cantalupo in Italy (and similarly named towns in France), none of which have ever been the site of the pope’s summer home. So the true origin of the delicious salmon-colored melon remains somewhat mysterious.

11. SARDINES

Said to have been named after the island of Sardinia, where they are plentiful in nearby waters. 

12. SATSUMA

From the former province of Kyushu, Japan, where the small, seedless orange was first grown. 

13. SCALLIONS

From “onions of Ascalon,” a former Philistine city that is now Ashkelon, Israel. 

14. SHERRY

Sherry was originally a fortified wine made in the southwest Spanish town now known as Jerez. According to Ayto’s Glutton’s Glossary, in the 16th and 17th centuries the town name was spelled Xeres and pronounced, more or less, as sheris. The type of strong white wine, or sack, produced there was known as sherris sack. As the 17th century progressed, the references to sack were dropped, as was the final s, and the drink became known as sherry.

Of course, sherry is far from the only alcoholic topononym. In Toponymity, Marciano notes that practically every type of alcohol is named for a place. Pilsen and Budweis are towns in the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic, while Chablis, Bordeaux, Gamay, and Chardonnay are all French towns or villages; both Burgundy and Champagne are regions. Armagnac, Cognac, Calvados are all brandies as well as places in France. Madeira, Port, Amontillado, and Marsala are fortified wines that come from Spanish toponyms. Bourbon is a county in Kentucky, and Tequila a town in Mexico. Curaçao is also both a country and a liquor. Then of course there's Scotch, which is both derived from a toponym in general and when it comes to specific varieties such as Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, "which come from the narrow valleys—or glens—of the Rivers Livet and Fiddich," as Marciano noes.

Even Evian water comes from Évian-les-Bains, France, and San Pellegrino from San Pellegrino Terme, Italy.

15. CARRAGEEN

A type of edible seaweed (also called Irish Moss) named for Carragheen near Waterford in Ireland. 

16. MAYONNAISE

The etymology is disputed, but some French sources say the sauce was named “in recognition of Mahon, seaport capital of island of Minorca, captured by France [in] 1756 after the defeat of the British defending fleet in the Seven Years' War.”

17. TANGERINE

Originally tangerine orange, meaning "an orange from Tangier," as in the place in Morocco. 

18. WIENER/WIENER SCHNITZEL

Both from Vienna.

19. QUINCE

Originally Greek kydonion malon "apple of Kydonia,” a seaport in Crete. 

20. ROMAINE

As in lettuce, from Rome.  

This Macaroni and Cheese Meatball Recipe Is Easy Enough to Make in a Dorm Room

iStock.com/LauriPatterson
iStock.com/LauriPatterson

It's hard to make creative meals when you're working out of a dorm "kitchen," but Daniel Holzman, the chef/co-owner of The Meatball Shop in New York City, proves that college students don't need to limit themselves to energy drinks and instant ramen noodles. Using just a coffee maker and a toaster oven, he's found a way to prepare an easy recipe for macaroni and cheese meatballs.

The video below is the fourth episode of "The College Try," a new series from Food & Wine and Spoon University that challenges chefs to create meals using dorm equipment and ingredients. Holzman starts by "brewing" his macaroni in a coffee maker. Once the pasta is cooked, he stirs in one tablespoon of butter and transfers it to a plate. To start making the cheese sauce, he adds two cups of milk and two tablespoons of butter to the coffee pot before retuning it to the warm burner.

Holzman prepares the meatballs by mixing ground beef, breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, salt, and the cooked macaroni in a bowl. After he shapes the meat mixture into 2-inch balls, he bakes them in a toaster oven preheated to 450°F for 12 minutes.

The last step is the sauce. The chef whisks a packet of cheese powder from a box of macaroni and cheese into the milk and uses that as the base for his plate of meatballs. In about half an hour, he makes a meal that looks a lot better than what you can find in most college dining halls.

From microwaved omelets to mug cakes, here are some more cooking hacks for dorm life.

[h/t Spoon University]

Eliza Leslie: The Most Influential Cookbook Writer of the 19th Century

American cookbook author Eliza Leslie
American cookbook author Eliza Leslie
Wikimedia // Public Domain

If it wasn't for Eliza Leslie, American recipes might look very different. Leslie wrote the most popular cookbook of the 19th century, published a recipe widely credited as being the first for chocolate cake in the United States, and authored fiction for both adults and children. Her nine cookbooks—as well as her domestic management and etiquette guides—made a significant mark in American history and society, despite the fact that she never ran a kitchen of her own.

Early Dreams

Born in Philadelphia on November 15, 1787, to Robert and Lydia Leslie, Eliza was an intelligent child and a voracious reader. Her dream of becoming a writer was nurtured by her father, a prosperous watchmaker, inventor, and intellectual who was friends with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. She once wrote that "the dream of my childhood [was] one day seeing my name in print."

Sadly, her father’s business failed around the turn of the 19th century and he died in 1803. The family took in boarders to make ends meet, and as the oldest of five, Leslie helped her mother in the kitchen. To gain culinary experience, she attended Mrs. Goodfellow’s Cooking School in Philadelphia, the first school of its kind in the United States. Urged by her brother Thomas—and after fielding numerous requests for recipes from friends and family—she compiled her first book, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, in 1828. Notably, the book included the term cup cake, referring to Leslie's employment of a teacup as a measuring tool ("two large tea-cups full of molasses")—possibly the first-ever mention of a cup cake in print.

Seventy-Five Receipts was a hit, and was reprinted numerous times. Encouraged by this success—and by her publisher, Munroe & Francis—Leslie moved on to her true desire: writing fiction. She penned short stories and storybooks for young readers as well as adult fiction and won several awards for her efforts. One of her prize-winning short stories, the humorous "Mrs. Washington Potts," appeared in Godey’s Lady’s Book, the popular 19th century magazine for which she also served as assistant editor. Leslie also contributed to Graham’s Magazine, the Saturday Gazette, and The Saturday Evening Post. At least one critic called her tales "perfect daguerreotypes of real life."

As much as Leslie loved writing fiction, however, it didn't always pay the bills. She wrote a second cookbook, Domestic French Cookery, in 1832, and achieved the pinnacle of her success in 1837 with Directions for Cookery. That work became the most beloved cookbook of the 1800s; it sold at least 150,000 copies and was republished 60 times by 1870. She offered pointers on procuring the best ingredients ("catfish that have been caught near the middle of the river are much nicer than those that are taken near the shore where they have access to impure food") and infused the book with wit. In a section discouraging the use of cold meat in soups, she wrote, "It is not true that French cooks have the art of producing excellent soups from cold scraps. There is much bad soup to be found in France, at inferior houses; but good French cooks are not, as is generally supposed, really in the practice of concocting any dishes out of the refuse of the table."

In The Taste of America, noted modern food historians John and Karen Hess called Directions for Cookery “one of the two best American cookbooks ever written," citing the book's precise directions, engaging tips, straightforward commentary, and diverse recipes—such as catfish soup and election cake—as the keys to its excellence.

Leslie is also credited with publishing America’s first printed recipe for chocolate cake, in her 1846 Lady’s Receipt Book. While chocolate had been used in baking in Europe as far back as the 1600s, Leslie’s recipe was probably obtained from a professional chef or pastry cook in Philadelphia. The recipe, which featured grated chocolate and a whole grated nutmeg, is quite different from most of today's chocolate cakes, with its strong overtones of spice and earthy, rather than sweet, flavors. (You can find the full recipe below.)

Later in life, while continuing to write cookbooks, Leslie edited The Gift: A Christmas and New Year’s Present, which included early publications by Edgar Allan Poe. She also edited her own magazine of literature and fashion, Miss Leslie’s Magazine. She wrote only one novel, 1848's Amelia; Or a Young Lady’s Vicissitudes, but once said that if she was to start her literary career over, she would have only written novels.

A Uniquely American Voice

Historians have argued that Leslie was successful because she crafted recipes to appeal to the young country’s desire for upward mobility as well as a uniquely American identity. At the time she began writing, women primarily used British cookbooks; Leslie appealed to them with a distinctly American work. (She noted in the preface to Seventy-Five Receipts, "There is frequently much difficulty in following directions in English and French Cookery Books, not only from their want of explicitness, but from the difference in the fuel, fire-places, and cooking utensils. ... The receipts in this little book are, in every sense of the word, American.")

Leslie included regional American dishes in her books, promoted the use of quality ingredients, and was the first to (sometimes) organize recipes by including ingredients at the beginning of each recipe instead of using a narrative form, setting the tone for modern recipe writing. Her books were considered a treasure trove of knowledge for young pioneer women who, frequently separated from their families for the first time, often relied on Leslie's works for guidance.

Unmarried herself, Leslie never managed her own kitchen, and often had others testing recipes for her. She maintained strong ties with her erudite, sophisticated family, and lived for a time with her brother Thomas while he was attending West Point. Another brother, Charles Leslie, was a well-regarded painter in England; her sister Anna was also an artist, and sister Patty was married to a publisher who produced some of Leslie’s work. As she got older, Leslie lived for years in the United States Hotel in Philadelphia, where she was something of a celebrity for her wit and strong opinions.

Leslie died on January 1, 1858. Many of her recipes are still used today, but it's likely she’d be most pleased to know that many of her short stories are available online. Modern readers can appreciate the totality of her work: the fiction writing that was her passion, though for which she was lesser known, and her culinary writing, which guided generations.

Eliza Leslie's Recipe for Chocolate Cake

From The Lady's Receipt Book:

CHOCOLATE CAKE.—Scrape down three ounces of the best and purest chocolate, or prepared cocoa. Cut up, into a deep pan, three-quarters of a pound of fresh butter; add to it a pound of powdered loaf-sugar; and stir the butter and sugar together till very light and white. Have ready 14 ounces (two ounces less than a pound) of sifted flour; a powdered nutmeg; and a tea-spoonful of powdered cinnamon—mixed together. Beat the whites of ten eggs till they stand alone; then the yolks till they are very thick and smooth. Then mix the yolks and whites gradually together, beating very hard when they are all mixed. Add the eggs, by degrees, to the beaten butter and sugar, in turn with the flour and the scraped chocolate,—a little at a time of each; also the spice. Stir the whole very hard. Put the mixture into a buttered tin pan with straight sides, and bake it at least four hours. If nothing is to be baked afterwards, let it remain in till the oven becomes cool. When cold, ice it.

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