“A soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup.”
Willa Cather, ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop’ (1927)
Welcome to our August Food Issue!
Food! Is there anything more basic and necessary to each of us. I love food because I love stories – pick any ingredient, trace its journey and you will have the story of the world.
Take for instance this month’s cover of ice pops, maybe to you they are popsicles or maybe they are paletas. Most of us in Canada and the US grew up with popsicles. Foodie folklore has it that the popsicle was invented by 11-year old Frank Epperson in 1905 when he accidentally left a glass of powdered soda and water with a mixing stick in it on his porch during a cold night. It seems like such an obvious thing but we need to remember that home freezers weren’t even introduced onto the market until 1913. When Epperson’s popsicle was patented and marketed in 1923 just 35% of American homes even had electricity! The double stick popsicle most of us grew up with was introduced during the depression as a gimmick to give customers more for their money. I loved that feeling of breaking a popsicle on the edge of the counter or a doorframe- the thump thump sound is such a strong memory. The two-stick variety was discontinued in 1986 after moms complained it was too messy.
If you grew up in Mexico then you have definitely had your share of paletas. There are a lot of theories about their origins. One explanation is that in the early 1820s when Mexico declared independence, Spain’s monopoly on ice and the sky-high taxes on it were over. Common folks could afford it and were able to experiment, adding fresh fruit to create something delicious and practical for beating the heat. It is generally accepted that the first commercial paletas originated in the town of Tocumbo, Michoacán by Ignacio Alcázar, his brother Luis and their friend Agustín Andrade. They started ‘La Michoacana’ and in 1946 they opened their first paletería in Mexico City. The three then sold franchises to all their friends and relatives and it is estimated there are now over 12,000 locations throughout Mexico! A statue of a paleta is at the heart of Tocumbo as it is the paleta business which brought so much prosperity to the small town.
So what did you eat today?
See you next month,