H/T The Nibble.com.
I did not know there was a vanilla pudding day.
May 22 is National Vanilla Pudding Day, but what we enjoy today is far different from the dish’s origins. Culinary historians believe that the precursor of vanilla pudding originated in earl early medieval Europe, an evolution of an Arab pudding-like dish of rice and almonds. The oldest recipe known dates back to the early 13th century, a translation that is believed to have been based on a manuscript from the 12th century or earlier. Over the centuries, the recipe turned into blancmange (pronounced blah-MOHNJ), meaning “white dish,” from the Old French blanc mangier. This dish was enjoyed by Europe’s wealthy during the Middle Ages. It appears frequently in recipe collections of the time from all over the Continent, and is called one of “the few truly international dishes of medieval and early modern Europe.”* *Source: Wikipedia. The dish is referred to in the prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and in an early 15th century cookbook written by the chefs of Richard II. We first came across the reference as a child, in the book Little Women. Originally a white stew, the key ingredients of the original blancmange were milk or almond milk, sugar and shredded capon or fish. In the 17th century, the meat was dropped and the dish evolved into a dessert pudding made with cream and eggs (and, later, gelatin*). In the 19th century, arrowroot and cornstarch were added and the dish evolved into the final, modern blanc mange, known in the U.S. as vanilla pudding (and originally known as cornstarch pudding). *Gelatin was made in ancient times by boiling the bones; powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. The concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an inventor named Peter Cooper. Vanilla Pudding Recipe Be sure to see the “variations” at the end of the recipe. Ingredients 2 cups whole milk 3 tablespoons cornstarch 1/3 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup cold milk 1 teaspoon vanilla Preparation Scald 2 cups milk in a double boiler. Separately mix cornstarch, sugar and salt. Stir in 1/4 cup cold milk. Combine mixture to scalded milk in double boiler. Cook 15 minutes, stirring constantly until the pudding thickens. Cool slightly, thickening occasionally. Add vanilla. Chill and serve.