Saturday, September 29, 2012

Macaroni & Cheese, a history lesson on the Culinary Tour

 The historical aspect of foods is the mission of the Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County.  As people eat, they learn the history of what they are eating.
A previously hosted Taste History Culinary Tour featured cuisines that were farm-to-table, Neapolitan, Jamaican and Sicilian.  An old classic highlighted on the tour was the "Macaroni and Cheese" which tour guests experienced at Donnie's Southern Restaurant, a soul food eatery  located on historic NW 5th Avenue in Delray Beach, Florida.  Historic 5th Avenue developed as Delray's black business corridor during the era of legal segregation which attributes to its rich history of being the location of the first public school in Delray Beach, and that district has included a black Masonic Lodge, hotel, church, pharmacy, doctor's offices and soul food eateries.
The origin of the macaroni (noodle, pasta, etc.) is medieval. Italian explorer Marco Polo has been credited with introducing the macaroni to Italy in the 13th century after he was exposed to the food item in China.  But it's a debated fact because some evidence suggests the macaroni was invented by the Greeks and Romans.  A 14th century English cookbook recorded a cheese and pasta casserole named "makerouns."
Made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese was served at
Donnie's Southern Restaurant in Delray Beach
for the Taste History Culinary Tour.
The immigration of the macaroni and cheese recipe to the American South has been credited to third American President Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. For five years Jefferson served as American delegate in the country of France where he immersed himself in the art and cuisine of Europe and traveld to Italy.  Upon his return to America, Jefferson was elected President in 1801.  1802, President Jefferson served a "macaroni pie" at a state dinner.  A slave-owner, Jefferson used this slave-labor as the cooks and maids who had a leading role in food preparations at the White House and on Jefferson's plantation Monticello in Virginia.  The macaroni and cheese was considered a cuisine of the upper-class but prepared by enslaved black labor for the "big house" on the plantation thus explains the familiarity and duplication of the cuisine by African Americans.  51 years after the abolition of the slavery began the Great Migration in 1916 of poor African Americans leaving the South for a better life out West in California or up North to  Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and New York City.  Subsequent to this migration, the macaroni and cheese food was introduced in new Soul Food eateries located in those geographic locations hence the dish being strongly associated with working-class and African American food.
The Taste History food excursion included tastings at the Sundy House, Scuola Vecchia pizzeria, Ceasar's Jerk Chicken and Famous Ribs; and Palermo's Bakery.  The tour also traveled to the historic St. Paul's Episcopal Church; and the Colony Hotel in downtown Delray Beach, Florida.

Photos from the June 16, 2012 Taste History Culinary Tour:

Donnie's Southern Restaurant served soul food cuisine for the Taste History Culinary Tour

Mr. Donnie at Donnie's Southern Restaurant for the Taste History Culinary Tour

The Taste History Tour guests were greeted an entrance of the Sundy House for a tour of the garden and tastings.  Sundy House is the former home of John Shaw Sundy who was the first Mayor of Delray Beach when Delray Beach incorporated in 1911

The Sundy House has an in-house horticulturist who gave a guided tour of the gardens for the Taste History Culinary Tour

Farm-to-table cuisine for the Taste History Culinary Tour. Mango shrimp appetizer created using mangoes and spices grown on the Sundy House property.

One of the chefs on the culinary team at the Sundy House with the General Ganager

Mango ice tea served at the Sundy House for the Taste History Culinary Tour.  The mangoes came for the Sundy House property.

Sundy House chef created the mango cuisine tastings and ice tea for the Taste History Culinary Tour

Bamboo at the Sundy House in Delray Beach

Fish pond at the Sundy House in Delray Beach

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Delray Beach gave an informative historical overview that included the Jewish American migration in Delray Beach and their use of the St. Paul's parish hall for Jewish services.
Scuola Vecchia is a certified Neapolitan pizzeria in Delray Beach, Florida.  Tastings were provided for the Taste History Culinary Tour

The pizza-makers at Scuola Vecchia are trained to create the Pizza Margherita according to Neapolitan standards from 100 years ago.

Stone oven from Naples, Italy is used to cook certified pizzas at ScuolaVecchia in Downtown Delray Beach, Florida

The Pizza Margherita is named after Queen Margherita of Italy.  The Taste History Culinary Tour guests watched the pizza-making process and enjoyed tastings of the Pizza Margherita.

Bill Ceasar of Ceasar's Jerk Chicken and Famous Ribs in Boynton Beach,Florida welcomed the guests from the Taste History Culinary Tours

Jerk chicken tastings from Ceasar's Jerk Chicken and Famous Ribs were provided on the Taste History Culinary Tour

Palermo's Bakery of Boynton Beach created a Cannoli cake for dessert tastings in The Cellar at Macy's Boynton Beach, Florida

Baker from Palermo's Bakery of Boynton Beach explained Cannoli cake-making process to the Taste History tour guests

Cannoli cake is derived from the Sicilian pastry by the same name. A Cannoli cake was created by Palermo's Bakery of Boynton Beach for the Taste History Culinary Tour's visit to Macy's Boynton Beach, Florida

Click here for Macy's

To purchase tickets on-line for the Taste History Culinary Tour of Historic Palm Beach County, visit or call 561-243-2662 or 561-638-8277. Pre-payment is required. Private group tours are also available.

Brief Facts about Taste History:
  • Offered year-round
  • Held on the first, second, third and fourth Saturdays at 11am. Pre-payment is required.
  • At least 3 to 4 locally owned and family-owned bakeries and eateries are visited for food tasting. Some cuisines may be culturally-specific.  The food portions are hearty.
  • Cultural centers or emerging art and craft shops are visited
  • Tour travels through historic neighborhoods, downtowns, main streets and off the beaten path.
  • Bus riding and 4 to 6 blocks of walking
  • Some eating experiences are standing-only. 
  • Tour is at least 3 to 4 hours
  • Food and Florida history are narrated by a guide
  • To maintain an element of surprise, each tour is different and never an exact duplication of any previous tour hosted. 
  • Private group tours are also available during the weekday
  • Pre-payment is required. Fees are inclusive
  • Tour takes place Rain or Shine.
  • Dietary Restrictions Cannot be Accommodated. Click here to read about types of foods served on the tour.  
  • Taste History is a food tasting tour, with art and history combined, and although there is some sitting it's not a sit-down luncheon but many of the food portions are hearty and most people are full by the end of the tour.

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Due to the exceeding popularity of the Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County, the first seven-months sold-out. To meet the demand for the culinary tours, more dates have been added with the tours being expanded to consist of food samplings in historic Lake Worth including Lantana in Palm Beach County, Florida. Therefore, the tours are held at 11am year-round on the second, third and fourth Saturdays of each month, plus private group tours are offered. The Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Delray Beach & Boynton Beach, Florida is offered on the third and fourth Saturdays of each month. And, Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Lake Worth & Lantana is held on the second Saturday of each month, year-round, effective April 14, 2012.

The Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County includes family-owned and locally-operated eateries, markets and urban farms in historic Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and Lantana plus exclusive discounts at Macy’s are provided specifically for the guests on the Taste History Culinary Tour. The Taste History Culinary Tours are the first food tours of its style in Palm Beach County and are conducted by the Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History (MLFH) which is a non-profit 501c3 organization. These food tours include a live guide and are 4-hours with a combination of bus riding and 4 to 6 blocks of walking tour with visits to at least 3 to 4 restaurants/eateries/cultural sites for cuisine tastings along with visiting historic districts, buildings and art galleries. There are more 20 restaurant/food partners for the culinary tour that are visited on a rotating alternate schedule which means different eateries are visited each tour. Private group tours are also available.

The culinary tours are small-format with the average capacity for the tours being 15 to 20 people.

Taste History is sponsored in part by Macy's which is famous for its culinary tools department; the Patricia Ann Ravo Fund and the Boris & Edith Rueger Fund. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
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