FOOD HISTORY: Sweetened Fried Dough

 Dough, fried, sweetened and used as food, has been enjoyed for many, many centuries. However, it took two independent, historical events to make this possible. The first was the invention of clay pottery. Before clay pots were invented, cooking was done only by roasting food over hot coals. The second development was the Chinese discovery, in 8000 - 5500 BC, of the stone grinder which allowed grain to be pulverized into a fine flour that could be made into a dough. The dough could be baked or fried in a clay pot filled with oil. In the 2nd century BC, the Roman writer, Cato, described a dish called Scriblita, which consisted of moist dough spooned into hot fat and allowed to steam into random shapes. This may have been the precursor to both fritters and doughnuts. A 15th century cooking book - Harliean manuscript of 1430 - described a yeast batter using egg whites which were run down the fingers of the cook into hot fat where they "set" into tangles. When cooked, they were served sprinkled with sugar. It is believed that the art of deep frying came from China to Japan in the 7th - 8th century. However, cooking oil was very expensive so the only places that served deep - fried food were in Buddist temples. It was only in the 17th - 18th centuries, that vegetable oil was produced in enough quantity in Japan to be readily available to all people. It was then that the Portugese, who had been trading with Japan from their colony in Macao since 1549, introduced the method of deep frying food to the Japanese. Tempura, the famous Japanese dish of fried seafood and vegetables was a dish adapted from the early Portugese traders in Japan. Further, in 1878, Portugese workers were solicited in Hawaii. The Portugese always influenced the cuisines of the new countries where they worked, settled or traded. In the case of Hawaii, the Portugese workers brought recipes for their fried dough dish, "Malassadas" with them where they became a standard dish still eaten in Hawaii. (In Hawaii they are spelled with only one "s" - Malasadas ). The same was true when Portugese people settled on the East coast of the United States where "Malassadas", known as "Flippers" in Cape Cod, Massacuchetts, are eaten today. Thus, trade and immigration certainly were one of the means by which the knowledge of recipes for sweetened, fried dough dishes were transported around the world. An additional possibility for the development of these treats  arising  world - wide is that they developed independently in different countries using the taste preferences of each country.  Be that as it may, sweetened fried dough dishes are known, eaten and enjoyed the world over. There are probably few countries that do not have a fried dough dish, plain or filled, sweetened with sugar (sometimes other spices), sugar syrup or honey. Some of the more well -  known ones are: Malassadas; Portugal, Hawaii, east coast of US; Bienets - France; Churros - Spain/Mexico; Fritters - world - wide; Loukoumades - Greece; Zeppole - Italy; Oliebollen - Netherlands; Lokma - Turkey; donuts - US/ world - wide; Bamieh - Iran