Today’s food holiday is berry delicious! May 21 is National Strawberries and Cream Day.
I had assume that strawberries and cream were just that: strawberries floating in a bowl of cream. Which doesn’t sound all that appealing. Turns out, most preparations involve whipped cream. Some even call for ice cream. Ahh…well now, that makes sense! Strawberries and whipped cream are a decadent delicacy. I decacacy, if you will.
Strawberries and cream were first served by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Lord Chancellor of King Henry VIII’s royal court, in the 1500s. In 1514, Wolsey built a fabulous riverside retreat called Hampton Court which he referred as the “the King’s palace” due to the frequency of Henry VIII’s visits. Opulent parties were thrown, and included lavish feasts whipped up by the chefs in Hampton Court’s oversized kitchens; they were expected to feed some 600 people twice a day. The kitchens were hot and crowded, and the chefs worked like mad, once serving a meal consisting of 44 different cooked animals and birds. One overworked chef said “this is bullshit” – or whatever profanity-laced phrase was popular at the time – and decided to put together a simple dessert that did not require plucking, skinning, butchering, or cooking. He took strawberries, combined them with thickened cream (dairy products were considered a peasant dish at the time), and served them to the royal court. Rather than declaring “off with his head!” the king enjoyed the treat, and it became popular throughout Britain. To this day, strawberries and cream are synonymous with the Wimbledon tennis tournament, where more than 6000 pounds of strawberries and 2000 pounds of cream are served.
I wish this food holiday was just a few weeks later. The best strawberries in the world are grown in the Pacific Northwest, but the season doesn’t begin until June and is much too short. We had to settle for California strawberries from the grocery store instead, which – no offense to Golden Staters – pale in comparison. But – on the plus side – I made my own whipped cream! It’s amazingly simple. Cream, sugar, and a splash of vanilla. Whip until it forms stiff peaks.
That’s what she said.
May 1st is the “perfect” day to celebrate chocolate desserts: it’s National Chocolate Parfait Day!
It also marks a special occasion: today we are 1/3 of the way through our food challenge. Four months down, eight to go. We still have a lot of ground to cover, but we’re making progress. I’ve begun dreaming of 2014, when we’ll be able to eat whatever we feel like on any given day. Seems like such a novelty now. Which is not to say that I’m not enjoying this project. I am. We both are. But it’s definitely a lot of work! And expense.
As alluded to above, parfait is a French word meaning perfect. It was invented in 1894 in France (duh) and was originally a frozen dessert consisting of cream, sugar syrup, and eggs. Nowadays it may also contain frozen custard, whipped cream, sauce, and fruit, and is usually served on a plate rather than in a glass. The preparation varies by country. In the U.S., parfait describes a chocolate mousse or pudding layered with whipped cream, fruit, and cookie crumbs or other toppings. No matter how you partake of your parfait, you will find it c’est magnifique!
We partook of our parfait by preparing a prepackaged pouch of pudding perfectly. Instant chocolate pudding, to be exact, and both fat-free and sugar-free, to boot. We layered that in a glass with generic Cool Whip and crushed graham crackers, and voila! A quick and easy parfait.
- Parfait (patriciaangelika.wordpress.com)
- Simple Chocolate Mousse (lapetitepartymama.wordpress.com)
- Orange Mascarpone Parfaits in Chocolate Cups (sinsationscakes.wordpress.com)
Today is National Whipped Cream Day, and that’s fortunate since we are out of town visiting family. We don’t mind the tougher challenges, but it’s nice not having to worry about anything more difficult than how to use a can of whipped cream creatively while we’re on the road.
While many of these food holidays were apparently chosen at random, January 5 is no coincidence: it’s Reddi-Wip founder Aaron Lapin’s birthday. Mr. Lapin (“Bunny” to his friends) was the first person to put whipped cream in a can. He passed away in 1999, but his creation lives on.
Whipped cream existed long before Bunny was even a gleam in his parents’ eyes. Long, loooong before. Recipes have been discovered dating back to the 16th century, when whipped cream was known as “milk snow.” (How cute is that name? Can we bring it back?). By the 18th century the English began calling it “snow cream” (also cute). It is also known as Crème Chantilly, but that just makes me think of the old Big Bopper song. You know, Chantilly lace and a pretty face. Before my time, but I did see La Bamba and loved it. In 1946 the aerosol can was invented, and the sweet concoction (nothing more than cream that has been whipped – duh – and often sweetened and flavored with vanilla) took off when Mr. Lapin started selling Reddi-Wip out of the can. I think we can all agree that the man was a genius, no?
Imitation products exist (Cool Whip and other “whipped toppings”) but they do not contain dairy, and after the flak we received yesterday there was no way we were going to try to use a fake product this time around. I did get a Facebook message that said, I thought after yesterday’s do over you had learned your lesson about cans! Get or make the real stuff! My response? We have to draw the line somewhere! Otherwise people might accuse us of cheating because we didn’t milk our own cow to make the cream in the first place. A can of Reddi-Wip is perfectly acceptable.
Bunny thanks me.
After a busy day on the go, we didn’t get back to Tara’s mom’s house until 9 PM. You know what sounded really good at that point? A mug of hot cocoa. Topped with real whipped cream.
And THAT hit the spot!