Food by Accidents

By Sheere Ng - Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

Accidental inventions are common in history- like popcorn. There are other way more lip smacking accidents over the course of history. Here are 5 food “accidents” that we have been enjoying.


Cheese Its origin links back to the old practice of transporting milk in a vessel made of animal’s stomach. Legend has it that an Arabian nomad discovered the liquid hardened along the way in reaction to the rennet (enzyme) that remained in the stomach, making for the world’s first fromage.


Assorted Cheese (image courtesy of Skanska Matupplevelser via Flickr)


Sourdough Sourdough is a type of bread made by long fermentation of dough using natural yeast. The oldest record of sourdough harks back to the ancient Egyptians. What likely happened is that Egyptian bakers’ accidentally dampened ground up grain and left it to sit at room temperature. Wild yeast spores from the nearby beer brewing (ancient Egyptian brewery and bakery were often at the same place) settled on the mix, ate the natural sugars and converted them into lactic acid which gave it a sour flavour.


Sourdough (image courtesy of treehouse1977 via Flickr)


Tofu It’s noted that a Chinese cook, attempting to flavour soy milk, dropped unrefined sea salt containing nigari, a natural coagulant, into a pot of it, resulting in a curdled soy milk. The cook then shared the discovery with everyone, and this original product expanded into a plethora of varieties that we see today- from silken curd to blackened firm tofu.


Tofu (image courtesy of robert couse-baker)


Ice Cream Cone In 1904, Arnold Fornachou, a teenage vendor at World’s Fair in Saint Louis, USA, run out of paper dishes to serve his ice cream, and customers were lining up. He turned to his fellow vendors for help. Ernest Hamwi came to his aid by rolling up his waffle-like pastries and gave them to Fornachou to fill with ice cream. Later, Hamwi received a patent for a cone-making machine and started his own company. There were many vendors who ran ice cream booth at the same fair that claimed similar story. However, many historians believe that the first edible cones were found in Europe before the 19th century.


Ice Cream Cones (image courtesy of garryknight via Flickr)


Oyster sauce Lee Kum Sheung, founder of Lee Kum Kee, stumbled upon his trademark oyster sauce one day in 1888 in Guangdong Province, China. He over-cooked a pot of oyster soup, thus condensing the flavors of oysters into a rich and savoury condiment. The rest is delicious umami history. The oyster sauce is an indispensable agent in almost all Chinese kitchens today.


Oyster sauce on broccoli (image courtesy of Florian via Flickr)