In the last decade, we've seen some pretty wild variations of food emerge as people feel more comfortable sharing their experiments with friends and the world on social media.
But have you ever thought about what the original versions of popular dishes tasted like? Was chocolate always so sweet? Did ancient people enjoy a crisp pot pie as much as we do? Did sushi use to be way saltier? (Spoiler: yes.)
So which of these dishes would you have indulged in their original form? Which would you prefer to eat today's version of?
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Pizza has been around, in some form or fashion, since the days of ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Back then, their pizza looked more like flatbread or focaccia.
But the pizza we recognize today was created in Naples, Italy around the turn of the 19th century. Naples was known as a lower-income city, and the residents were looking for cheap, quick meals.
So, someone decided to put toppings on flatbreads; and soon vendors were selling these handheld bites all over the city. At the time, other “more cultured” Italian citizens looked down on this barbaric way of eating - but the Neapolitans didn't seem to mind. In fact, when the Italian King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889, they wanted to have some of the authentic Neapolitan cuisine they'd heard of. Queen Margherita reportedly liked one pie so much - a variety that had mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil - that the pizza was named after her. (If you'd ever wondered where pizza margherita came from.)
Yet even after this royal approval, pizza stayed popular only within Naples' borders until another country popularized the dish. That country? The U.S.A.
Neapolitan immigrants brought with them their tasty pizza, and they started opening up actual pizza shops around the U.S., notably in New York City. Americans quickly deemed the dish as delicious rather than barbaric, and the pizza frenzy that we know today was born.
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Did you know that every variety of tea - black, green, oolong, white - all comes from the same plant? The plant is called Camellia sinensis, and where the tea plant grows, and when it is harvested, affects the difference in taste.
So when tea was originally discovered in China, it was from the very same plant that we use today for tea. The legend goes that tea was discovered way back in 2,700 BCE when Chinese emperor Shen Nung was relaxing under a tree. His servant was boiling some water for him to drink, and some leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant accidentally blew into the water. The emperor tried the drink and was hooked.
So, other than the added flavorings we've come up with in recent years, tea has remained relatively unchanged since its creation thousands of years ago.
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Today, mac and cheese has about a thousand different varieties. You could get a $50 mac and cheese with lobster, and a five-cheese blend or make the childhood staple of Kraft mac and cheese at home for about a dollar.
However, its origins take us back to the land of pasta: Italy. The first recipe for a macaroni and cheese-like dish called de lasanis, was found in the 13th century, where the dish required pasta to be cut into 2-inch squares, cooked in water, and tossed with grated cheese (which was more than likely parmesan.)
But did you know who popularized mac and cheese in America? If not, here's your most quotable fact from this article: Thomas Jefferson popularized macaroni and cheese in America.
While Jefferson did help make mac and cheese popular, it was in fact his enslaved black chef, James Hemmings (Sally's brother), who created the dish that we love today. While mac and cheese have been a part of African-American weekend meals and celebrations for centuries, Hemmings perfected his casserole-like recipe while living in Europe with Jefferson.
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We can enjoy chocolate in many different ways today - as candy, brownies, and cake. But the first form of chocolate was enjoyed as a drink by the Aztec emperor, Montezuma.
When Spanish royalty got their hands on the drink from their conquests of the Americas in the 1500s, they also enjoyed chocolate in liquid form.
It wasn't until 1847 that Joseph Fry figured out how to turn cocoa powder and sugar into a paste, which could be formed into a bar. With this, the chocolate bar was born. However, this original chocolate bar was made of bittersweet chocolate. Our modern tastebuds would likely not find this chocolate nearly as delicious as the 19th-century folks did.
This period of bitter chocolate lasted only a few years before Henry Nestle and Daniel Peter created milk chocolate, with the addition of evaporated milk.