Foodie news | Sharing a tasty history of holiday traditions | SierraSun.com

Foodie news | Sharing a tasty history of holiday traditions

Chef Heather HunsakerSpecial to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212;Savory ham, spiced gingerbread, cool peppermint candy canes and chestnuts roasting on a fire; so many holiday memories, songs and traditions revolve around food. But how did these popular holiday foods become such an intricate part of the seasonandamp;#8217;s festivities? Check out the tasty history behind these holiday treats.andamp;#8226; Gingerbread is a popular Christmas treat that has been enjoyed for centuries around the world. Gingerbread cookies were originally only baked exclusively by professional bakers. These cookies were baked year-round and shaped into popular shapes based on the season. Later, the general public was given permission to bake the popular cookies at Christmas and Easter, which may explain the Christmas connection.andamp;#8226; Ham is the main attraction for many Christmas dinners. Serving pork at holiday celebrations dates back to Tudor England when a boarandamp;#8217;s head was a common holiday centerpiece for the wealthy. Serving a Yule ham at holiday gatherings was later adapted for ease and accessibility. andamp;#8226; Candy Canes originated, according to folklore, around 1670, when a German choirmaster needed an enticement to keep young singers quiet during services. Later, in 1847, an Ohio German immigrant used candy canes to decorate his Christmas tree. It wasnandamp;#8217;t until the early 1900s that the popular colored stripes were added.andamp;#8226; Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a popular food for Hanukkah. These traditional Hanukkah treats symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah because they are fried in oil. While traditional latkes are made from potatoes, onion and matzah, today there are many different recipes for latkes, including latkes made from sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli and come served topped with sugar or cream.andamp;#8226; Caribbean, African and South American foods are traditionally served at Kwanzaa. Since Kwanzaa celebrates African-American heritage, pride, community and family, food served during this holiday honors this culture. Popular dishes include fried okra, fried chicken, black bean soup, baked ham and gumbo. Even if your holiday menu does not center around ham, take advantage of the current ham sales at the grocery store and make this Fast and Delicious Black Bean Soup. This soup would also work wonderfully with any ham leftovers you might have from the holidays.Fast and Delicious Black Bean SoupPrep Time: 10 minutes cook time: 30 minutes serves: 4-62 tablespoon vegetable oil1 medium onion, chopped1 green bell pepper, chopped1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced3 garlic clove, minced2 (15.0 ounce can) black beans1 (14.0 ounce can) chicken broth2 cup cooked ham, cubed1andamp;#8260;4 teaspoon cumin1andamp;#8260;2 teaspoon salt1andamp;#8260;2 teaspoon ground black pepper1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded1 cup sour creamHeat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, carrot and garlic, and cook 5 minutes, until tender. Mix in 1 can black beans and chicken broth.In a blender, puree remaining can of beans until smooth. Mix into the pot. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Mix in ham, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer 20 minutes. Garnish with Cheddar cheese and sour cream to serve.andamp;#8212; Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family-friendly meals since she was 9 years old in her motherandamp;#8217;s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site http://www.foodonthetable.com.