February 1st in Food History

February 1st is widely known to be National Freedom Day as this marks the anniversary when President Abraham Lincoln signed the amendment outlawing slavery in 1865. Aside from this memorable event, February 1st is a well know date in the history of food.

First of all, February 1st is Baked Alaska Day! Baked Alaska is a dessert filled with ice cream and cake and topped with meringue. Also known as “Omelette Norvegienne”.  According to the National Day Calendar, Charles Ranhofer, chef at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York, was famous for naming and renaming dishes after notorious events. He chose the name Baked Alaska after the heated argument that took place over the United States purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1868. The names fits the events purfectly as it is a nearly frozen dessert that is toasted in a hot oven before being served. In order to celebrate this national day, try making your own Baked Alaska using this recipe from Tasty!

This day also marks the Feast of Saint Brigid of Ireland, patron of cattle, chicken farmers, dairymaids. Also known as Saint Brigid of Kildare. The feast was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring. It was historically observed throughout Ireland and Scotland and is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivities.

Today marks the first day of African Heritage & Health Week, which runs from February 1-7. The week commemorates the foods, flavors and healthy cooking techniques that were using in traditional cooking of our African ancestors from Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and the American South.

On February 1st 1960, four ‘colored’ students from the Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina sat down at the lunch counter in Woolworth’s and ordered coffee. They were refused service, but still made history.

On this day in 1953, James Lewis Kraft died.
James Lewis Kraft is was the founder of Kraft Foods Inc, a wholesale cheese distributor and producer. In 1916 Kraft patented pasteurized process cheese, a low cost cheese that would not spoil. Not a great hit with the public, but the U.S. army purchased over 6 million tins of it during WW I. During the depression, it became popular because of its low cost. Kraft Foods continues to grow today while changing to meet consumer needs.

1982 Wolfgang Puck and his wife & partner, Barbara Lazaroff, opened their restaurant ‘Spago’ in Los Angeles. The first Spago was located on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Wolfgang Puck is a well-known famous chef across the globe. He is known for amazing restaurant hospitality and also for being the ultimate in mall aspects of the culinary arts.

Also on this day in 1982, a cow in Cuba, named Ubre Blanca, set a world record when it produced 28 gallons of milk in one day, which is about 4 times an average cow’s daily output. Ubre Blanca later set the record for total output during a 305 day lactation period of 6,405 gallons. Today, the record holder for most milk produced is Gigi the cow. From Brooklyn, Wisconsin, she produced 74,650 pounds of milk in one 365-day period.

Finally, on February 1st in 2008, New Zealand Crop & Food Research scientists announced they have created a tear-free onion. Dr. Colin Eady said ““Through RNAi, genes can be specifically shut down or turned off. By shutting down the lachrymatory factor synthase gene, we have stopped valuable sulphur compounds being converted to the tearing agent, and instead made them available for redirection into compounds, some of which are known for their flavour and health properties.”