The Whitcomb Hotel
The Whitcomb Hotel can be described as something that was built as result of a tragedy. This hotel was described by many as an “architectural masterpiece,” but that wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the natural disaster that destroyed the buildings that stood before it. In the year 1906, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in history hit San Francisco. Even though the earthquake only affected the area for one minute, buildings trembled and shortly after the earthquake, an inferno swept across the area for a total of 4 days. The first building that stood in what would later become the Whitcomb Hotel was the City Hall. The City Hall, however, was very short lived. The Whitcomb Estate Company then converted the building into a hotel. The hotel took $400,000 to finish and because it was so grand, many held meetings in this hotel.
One of them being the 1949, ninth annual conference for the Institution of Food Technology. For a food technology institution, I would expect their luncheon menu to look more complex, but the food that was served at this conference was relatively simple. But that is understandable, being that was a business conference and foods choices are typically narrowed down into foods that are not messy. That, in this case included yams, peas, cookies and coffee. But the food I want to focus on is baked Iowa ham with raisin sauce. I am going to analyze these foods but breaking it down into two parts.
Iowa Baked Ham
Cured meat, according to Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, existed in China even back in the 4900B.C. According to the same article, “Enthusiasm for ham spread throughout ancient Europe with the Romans, who likely learned of the practice while trading with the Chinese.” We can see through this quote that the Chinese and Romans had a big influence with how cured meat spread across the globe. Because most farmers raised pigs on their farm during the 17th century, consuming pork soon became normal in every household. First reference of cured country ham appeared in print in 1944. This method of salting and preserving meat made the shelf life of that food so much longer. That is part of the reason why people loved buying and consuming this type of ham.
Sweet and Simple Raisin Sauce
Ham is typically served with a side of sauce or gravy, whether it is sweet pineapple sauce or mustard sauce or brown gravy. I am going to be focusing on raisin sauce. Raisin sauce is a more old fashion sauce and is more rarely seem compared to sauces like gravy. According to Eugene P. “The sauce is usually made of raisin, and acid such as a vinegar or lemon juice, and spices that balance the flavor of the raisins.” This mix of ingredients makes the perfect sauce that can be put onto many a versatile selection of foods, from desserts to meats like pork and chicken. Cured pork paired so well with sweet sauces like raisin sauce because sweet mixed with salty always maximized flavor of foods. Since cured ham was very high in sodium, about 26% of the daily sodium value, according to healthline.com, the sweet sauce balanced the saltiness of the meat. According to research from the Monell Center,”SGLT1, this sensor is a transporter that moves glucose into the sweet taste sell when sodium is present, thus triggering the cell to register sweetness.” This explains why a sweet sauce is often paired with cured ham.
We have covered many aspects of this menu, from the hotel that served the foods presented on it, to why those foods were served, the history of these foods and the science behind why ham tastes good to our taste buds when paired with a sweet sauce. This specific dish that I chose to talk about is a good example of what people ate back in those days and can still be seen served as a traditional food at Christmas and Easter parties.