Barbara Burke

Good For You

By Barbara Burke

Wednesday, June 16, 1999

Tour U.S. cuisines
in ‘Culinaria’

American cooking is often defined as a melting pot of many ethnic cuisines. But it is better described as a salad with diverse and distinct components that do not lose their identities in the mix, according to Randi Danforth, editor of "Culinaria: The United States -- A Culinary Discovery" (Konemann, $39.95).

"Culinaria" takes you on a fantastic food journey throughout the 50 United States. Divided into 13 geographical regions, the annotated cookbook explores the wide diversity of American cuisine ranging from a New England clambake to a Louisiana crawfish feed to our own Hawaiian luau.

The book has been described as a "coffee table whopper" and that is no exaggeration. It contains 512 pages and 2000 illustrations, is nearly 13 inches tall and weighs 8 pounds. Despite its unwieldy size, this cookbook is a real winner. "Culinaria" was nominated for both the 1999 James Beard Foundation Awards and the 1999 Julia Child Cookbook Awards.

A number of these pages, written by Joan Clarke, are dedicated to the food and culture of Hawaii. They showcase a traditional luau, Hilo's Farmer's Market, Tamashiro's Fish Market, local plate lunch, the legend of taro, the bounty of Hawaii's seafood, Kona coffee, chocolate and macadamia nuts, and other island treasures.

While generously sprinkled with regional recipes, "Culinaria" is also a lesson in American history, cultural geography, and folklore, including some of these American "firsts":

Bullet The origin of the American ice cream cone is traced to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. A vendor rolled one of his waffles into a cone to hold his neighbor's ice cream after he had run out of serving dishes.

Bullet The tea bag is an American innovation introduced in 1908 by John Sullivan, a merchant who offered samples of his teas in hand-sewn cloth pouches.

Bullet The Toll House cookie was first made in 1930 by Ruth Wakefield, who ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Mass. She chopped up a chocolate bar and put it in a brown-sugar cookie dough. The Nestle Company asked permission to print her recipe on its semi-sweet chocolate package, where it remains today.

Bullet In the late 1800s, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg turned the Battle Creek Sanitarium into a popular center for those seeking treatment for high blood pressure, weight control and general malaise. He advocated a high-fiber regime which led him to obtain a patent on the first ready-to-eat cereal flakes.

Bullet In 1886, John Styth Pemberton, seeking a remedy for headaches and other ailments, concocted Coca-Cola from kola nut and coca plant extracts in his backyard. The rights to the syrup were purchased for $2,300 by Asa Candler in 1888, who eliminated any trace of the cocaine compound which occurred in the drink as a natural product of the coca leaf.

The following Tropical Fruit Salsa is a refreshing summer condiment for fish or chicken.

Tropical Fruit Salsa

"Culinaria: The United States"

1/2 cup EACH, diced mango, pineapple and papaya
1/4 cup diced Maui onion
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 Hawaiian chili pepper, seeded and deveined, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons macadamia-nut oil

Combine all ingredients. Let stand for an hour in refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups

Approximate nutritional value per 1/4-cup serving: 50 calories, 3.5 g total fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, 115 mg sodium*

Barbara Burke is a Hawaii-Pacific University instructor
who has been teaching and writing about food
and nutrition since 1975.

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