Culinary Enthusiasts Embrace July as the National Culinary and Lasagna Awareness Month
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July 1st launches National Culinary Month and, more specifically, Lasagna Awareness Month. It’s a month-long focus on how to best prepare our favorite dishes, experiment with some new gastronomic delights and, above all, check out what can be done with the Italian favorite – lasagna!
Many months have a special focus on a specific food or drink that’s associated with that month. January is National Hot Soup Month and Oatmeal Month while March is National Frozen Food Month. April is National Grilled Cheese Month and National Sushi Month, May is National Egg Month and June is National Fruit and Vegetables Month.
July brings all these special food months together plus August Catfish Month, September National Honey Month, October Cranberry Month, November National Pomegranate Month and December National Fruit Cake Month in a month-long celebration of the Culinary Arts. During July, professional chefs and cooks from around the world are recognized for their efforts in bringing unique and innovative cuisine to professional foodies, gourmet-enthusiasts and simple good food lovers alike.
National Culinary Month was first celebrated in 2002 as a way of acknowledging cooks, chefs, bakers and the tasty, comforting and exciting dishes that they prepare. Food aficionados wanted to encourage these artists in their pursuit of perfection through their experiments, expertise and love for cooking, they make the world a better place for all. Professional and amateur food preparers receive special honors for their accomplishments.
Throughout the month of July culinary artists, bloggers and food aficionados explore what’s new and exciting in the world of culinary art. Fairs, exhibitions, blogs, restaurants and even home cooks combine new spices and produce with old favorite dishes to create new heights in culinary perfection. Professional culinary schools offer special courses, food blogs and journals feature new recipes and kitchen hints and hacks, chefs receive long-due recognition and food enthusiasts open up to trying new types of foods and preparations.
As Culinary Month, July is devoted to numerous special foods including Berry Month, Blueberry Month, California Wild King Salmn Month, Grilling Month, Horseradish Month and National Ice Cream Month. July is also Picnic Month and Grilling Month.
Chefs know July as Lasagna Awareness Month. Lasagna is a fallback of culinary mavens from around the world who prize the combination of pasta, sauce, vegetables, and sometimes meats and cheeses. There are almost as many ways to make lasagna as there are ethnicities that claim it as their “national dish” but the basic recipe consists of layers of flat pasta, some kind of filling and some type of sauce.
Lasagna was a favored dish in ancient Greece and the name “lasagna” is derived from the Greek word “laganon” – flattened sheets of dough that were sliced into thick strips -- an early form of pasta. In Rome, the dish was called ‘lasanum’ and that morphed into the Italian ‘lasagna’.
Lasagna was already popular in the 13th century when Salimbene di Adam described it. Every area has its own way of making lasagna – in some regions the noodles are rippled, in others, eggs are added to the filling, in some places meat is used as a layer while in others, vegetables or cheese are the main ingredient. Francesco Zambrini popularized lasagna in Bologna in the 1800s and Italian immigrants brought it to America during their immigrations.
Today, lasagna can be made with meat, as a dairy dish or using just vegetables and pasta. Purists, however, don’t accept it as real lasagna unless it has a thick layer of cheese (vegan cheese for the non-dairy eaters) bubbling on top. s
National Lasagna Awareness Month
During National Lasagna Awareness month, lasagna lovers and others are invited to indulge in the dish, whether at a family dinner, with a group dining event or as part of a lasagna cook-off. There are numerous lasagna recipes including different types of fillings, pastas and sauces so you can get some new ideas as you taste other cooks’ lasagna dishes.
Some things that you may not have known about lasagna:
- Maurice Bacon, who wrote about lasagna being prepared for King Richard II in 1390 in England, declared that lasagna was an English dish. He referred to it as “loyseyns” (pronounced “lasan”) and described it as being made of flat pasta sheets that were separated by cheese sauce. In response, Italian historians produced records from 1316 that noted that lasagna had been made in Italy. The Italian embassy in London got involved in the fray and before the issue became an international incident, the British buried the subject.
- In Eritrea, once an Italian colony in northeastern Africa, citizens make lasagna using berbere, a hot spice mixture.
- When Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon flew into space on the Columbia space shuttle, NASA cooks created a kosher Florentine lasagna for him.
- The U.S. army avoids much of the controversy about the “correct” type of lasagna by rotating lasagna meals between four different recipes.
- The “lasagna syndrome” is the computer technician’s term to describe an excess overlapping of browser windows.
- Lasagna contests measure weight, not size.