nedelja, 09. januar 2011

The Tofu history

Tofu is a delicious soft, cheese-like food, made out of Soy milk. It is very popular in the Orient and is growing more and more popular all over the world. 


Tofu seem to have been invented by Taoists, but soon it became very popular with Chinese Buddhists, because of their strict vegetarian diet.Examples of high-protein foods are tofu, dairy...Image via Wikipedia

According to one Chinese legend, tofu was invented when a cook decided to experiment by flavoring a batch of cooked soybeans with the compound nagari. Instead of flavored soybeans, he wound up with bean curd. Nagari is frequently used in the production of tofu today.

The history of Tofu started more than 2000 years ago in China. Earliest evidences of tofu in Chinese diets is a mural incised on a stone slab, where both Tofu and Soya milk appear. This stone is dated around 100 A.D. The first people to write about tofu were Chinese writers somewhere around 900 AD.

At first the tofu started spreading over Asia with the help of Buddhism. Around 750 A.D kento priests who went to China to study Buddhism brought Tofu to Japan. Tofu was included in a vegetarian diet for priests and was often used as an offering at an altar. Tofu gradually became more and more popular among the Japanese higher class. The samurai, who needed healthy diets in their constant and rigorous training, also included Tofu in their diets.

In the Western world, tofu began to be popular in the late fifteen century. The first written reference about Tofu is in the 1603 Spanish dictionary "Vocabularion da lingoa de lapam". By the time the colonization era was over, Tofu had spread all across the World being a well-known element from almost every culture's diet.




Soybeans in a plantationImage via WikipediaTofu history in China 
Tofu is very popular in the Orient today but tofu was first used in China over 2000 years ago. The oldest evidence of tofu production is a Chinese mural incised on a stone slab. First document containing mention of the term "doufu" is the Ch'ing I Lu, written about 950 AD. There are many theories concerning the origin of tofu in China. The first theory states that tofu was created by Liu An, King of Huai-nan, who lived 179-122 BC. The second theory states that tofu was developed quite by accident, probably prior to AD 600, when a cook from northern China, seasoned a pureed soybean soup with unrefined sea salt containing natural nigari. The Indian theory states that tofu was imported from the dairying tribes or perhaps the Buddhist monks of India. The Mongolian theory states that the basic method for making tofu was adapted from the cheese-making process learned from milk-drinking Mongolian tribes living along the northern border of China.

According to ancient text, soybeans were cultivated in northern China at least as early as the 15th century B.C. , during the Chang period. A sixth century Chinese encyclopedia of agriculture cites that the explorers brought back soybeans to China from different expeditions to Greece, Rome, and India. In 2838 BC, the emperor Sheng-nung wrote a treatise on plants which describes the soya plant in detail. Chinese agricultural experts in 2207 BC also wrote about soybean cultivation. Soybeans represented important staple crop in China for quite some time.




Tofu history in Japan
 Kento priests, who went to China to study Buddhism, brought tofu back to Japan during the Nara era (710-794). Tofu was eaten as part of a vegetarian diet for priests for their protein content. Soon even samurai class adopted tofu to their strict healthy diets. At 1400 the upper classes of Japan started to include tofu in their diets and soon it spread amongst all classes all over Japan.




Tofu history in Western world
In 1603 the Spanish dictionary was the first European document with reference to the word "tofu". The first English reference to tofu was in 1704, when Navarrete's book was published in English. Tofu was first produced in France around 1880. In San Francisco tofu was produced by Hirata & Co in 1895. 
Massive production of Tofu began by T.A. Van Gundy in 1929 when he started the company La Sierra Industries in California.


Fried tofu for cookingImage via WikipediaAmericans did not adopt tofu to their diet so fast. Soybeans were available by the mid-1700s and popularized by Chinese immigrants traveling to California during the Gold Rush. As the Chinese immigrants traveled to other parts of the country, they spread the word across all America. The demand for tofu and other Asian foods increased after World War II. By the 1900s soybeans were grown as a cash crop as animal feed and for producing oil and oilcake residue for manufacturing purposes. By the 1950s the US rivaled Asia in its production of soybeans. Forty years later, the US would become the largest soybean producer in the world, providing nearly two-thirds of the global supply. Now soybeans are produced mainly to satisfy huge food demands for beef industry (especially GMO). Help the planet by choosing tofu over meat.


Since it beginnings, tofu has become a staple in many Asian countries, including Vietnam, Thailand, and Korea.
Okinawan cuisine: Peanut tofuImage via WikipediaTofu is a very healthy, protein rich and very tasteful food. It can be combined with all sorts of dishes, from salads and main dishes to desserts. It is no wonder that it grew so popular around the world and is gaining more and more popularity, especially in healthy diets.



Ok, now you know all about tofu history. Check out some tips how to cook tofu and how to prepare a delicious and healthy meal.



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