Our new English/history unit is called Food for Thought. In Food for Thought, we look at agriculture, agrarian societies and domestication, and how they change people’s lives. Within the unit, we interviewed someone in our family about recipes and family foods.
I interviewed my mother. We talked about how she and her mother are both amazing bakers, and loved to bake whenever they could. We talked about her mother’s famous banana bread recipe, and how all our friends and relatives love it.
My family food tree has both sets of grandparents, my parents, my brother and I. Each person has their favorite food written under their name. It was interesting to see everyone’s favorites, but also difficult to answer because no one could pick one favorite food!
Finally, I made an autobiography about the journey of sugarcane. I chose sugarcane because we use sugar in all of our baking recipes. I traced the path of sugarcane from where its origin to its place on my family’s table. It was interesting to learn about the process of turning sugarcane into sugar, as well as how sugarcane made its way from New Guinea all the way to Illinois.
My Journey as Sugarcane
Growing up as sugarcane gets quite boring sometimes. All we do in our free time is sit in a field, swaying in the breeze. Luckily, we are all around the same age, so we go to school together. In school, I took a class on the history of sugarcane. I really enjoyed learning the history of my ancestors, and how sugarcane became so popular.
I learned that we are a tropical grass, native to Asia. Our oldest ancestor grew in New Guinea around 6000 BC. The sugarcane I am, however, is different from the original sugarcane. My type is believed to have been hybridized with wild sugar canes of India and China, producing the ‘thin’ cane that I am; that you see today.
Sugarcane had many different trips to make before we settled in the United States. Around 1000 BC, we spread along human migration routes to Southeast Asia, India and east into the Pacific. We then spread westward to the Mediterranean between 600 and 1400 AD. Arabs were responsible for our migration to Egypt. We kept spreading until we finally reached Spain in 715 AD. Around 1420, we were introduced into Madeira, Portugal. Soon after, in 1493, it is believed that Christopher Columbus brought us to the Canary Islands. We finally went to Central and South America in the 1520’s. Since the 1520’s my family and I have become a common ingredient used in baking and cooking today!
Speaking of today, I was just purchased! Before I was bought, I had to go through a lot to reach the sugary state that I am in. I was shipped to the Domino Sugar Company in Chicago, where I was processed, milled and then refined. After that, I was manufactured, carbonated, evaporated and finally crystallized. From the factory, I was shipped to Dominick’s in Northbrook Illinois, where a pleasant 50-year-old mom took me off the shelf. She was on her cell phone, and was talking about how she is going to use me immediately, and that she might need to purchase some of my friends too, because she had so much to bake! At checkout, the cashier asked her about her baking, and she said that she was “quite well known by the friends of my own children, as I always love to bake, and for as long as anyone can remember, there have always been fresh baked goods at our house, and a pan of brownies was always ready for the kids who would come over.” I knew I would be put to good use!
At her house, I was poured into a bowl with other ingredients to make a “delicious treat.” I couldn’t imagine how such a painful process could result in something so good. I was poked, stirred, pressed and mixed. Once all us ingredients were mixed together, we were placed on a cookie sheet that was sprayed with a non-stick substance. Thank goodness for that, as I cannot imagine being ripped off of a sticky pan! The hardest part was still ahead of me though, as I was put into a hot oven and baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit Talk about a bad sunburn! When I came out of the oven, though, I was happy to see that I was a delicious, cookie, waiting to be enjoyed.