Anthropology of Pasta

Anthropology of Pasta brought to you by:

To Dine for Catering, serving Portland’s catering needs.


Arguably pasta has been around since before Christ; it was written about by the Roman poet Horace who lived from 65 B.C to 8 B.C. These early pastas may not have resembled what we think of as pasta today because ancient pasta was thin sheets of dough that was cooked by frying in oil not boiling in water. They show up again in writings from the 1st century and in the early 5th century when early forms of lasagna start to appear in Italy; but during this time the dough was till fried, which may account for its popularity. During this same early time, in Jerusalem, the Talmud mentions boiled dough. Boiled pasta was probably not invented by the Italians but by the Palestinians some where in the 4th or 5th century.

According to some historians, the first written record of “dried” pasta was in the 9th century when Arabian travelers utilized it as a staple on their notoriously long journeys. The pasta they used was thought to be produced in what is now known as Sicily, Italy. Pasta finally became really successful as a foodstuff around the 14th century probably due to the fact that it could be stored for a long time. Pasta was an important foodstuff whose long shelf life allowed people to explore the world. This idea is supported by the fact that pasta had world wide distribution by the 15th century which correlated with the voyages of discovery. It seems that pasta was a hit unlike the European domination the brought it.

Technically there are 310 forms of pasta but they go by over 1300 names globally. For lack of the ability to go in depth into each verity, I will define them by category.

The long pasta: are made by rolling and cutting pasta dough or by forcing the dough through a plate with an opening in it known as a pasta die. This method is called extrusion and is how they make: Spaghetti, Capellini and Fusilli pastas. There are also short cut extruded pastas like: Cannelloni, Manicotti and macaroni which are made the same way but the end product come out as a shorter noodle.

Next we have the ribbon cut pastas like: Lasagna, Fettuccine and Linguini which come from dough that has been rolled flat and cut into strips either by hand or machine.

Then there are the decorative cut pastas which take any form that the pasta maker chooses and are easily the prettiest looking of all the pasta varieties. Within this group there are also the less visually appealing, but still delicious, irregular shaped pastas like: Gnocchi and Spatzle.

Last but not least are the stuffed pastas which include: Ravioli, Tortellini and Pierogi; there common names sometimes translate as dumplings or little pies or bellybuttons.

For your next event in Portland, call To Dine for Catering and remember to order some pasta and celebrate a noodle that spanned the globe!

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Cassius Clay Cocktail

2 parts Rye Whiskey

1 part Cassis Liquor

2 squeezes Agave Syrup

juice from 1/2 a lime and 1/2 a lemon

Stir with ice and pour over a giant ice cube in a separate glass.

Makes one cocktail that will make you float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

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Instant Manhattan – fig infused bourbon

Super easy recipe.

Fill a quart jar 3/4′s of the way full with dried black mission figs.

Add Maker Mark bourbon to the top.

Let it sit for about 3 weeks.

Pour over ice and enjoy.

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Anthropology of Grape Wine

Anthropology of Grape Wine

brought to you by:

To Dine For Catering, serving Portland’s catering needs.

             Historically fermented drinks were a far better option than water because the alcohol content and fermentation process meant that they were safer to drink when the quality of water was a bit uncertain. Some have even suggested that the addition of alcohol to the human diet was a keystone in the advancement of societies because it limited the occurrence of water born disease. The history of grape wine is deeply intertwined with the advent of agriculture but its beginnings surely started with wild fruit of many kinds that were often mixed with honey and sometimes grains.

            The first archaeological evidence of wine production comes from China where wine residues (tartaric acid) were found on pottery shards at the Jiahu site. The shards have been radiocarbon dated to around 7,000 B.C. In Iran an archaeological site called Hajji Firuz has been associated with wine production and storage because clay jars found at the site have tannin and tartaric acid sediments that date to around 5,000 years B.C. Soon after this we start to see wine production all around the area with the oldest known winery found in Armenia; it dates to around 4,100 B.C. Archaeologists found a wine press, fermentation vats, grape seeds and grape vines at this location. By 3,200 B.C. there is evidence that domesticated grapes were starting to be farmed in western Asia and Egypt.

Wine was an influential component in early globalization because it was used as a trade product and a social lubricant that fostered communication between cultures and paved the way for these cultures to come together to share ideas and technologies. The Phoenicians were the first to employ this strategy in 1,500 B.C. when they distribute wine throughout the Mediterranean. Around 0 A.D there is a record of Jesus turning water into wine at the marriage at Cana. He reluctantly does this when his mother tells him that the party has run out of wine and she wants him to do something about it. It is noted in the bible that one person at the wedding said that Jesus’ wine was the best wine served at the marriage. This event where Jesus makes wine is his first recorded miracle and also noted as the moment when his disciples started to believe in him (John 2:11). Wine has a deep connection to Greek and Roman religions too with gods like Dionysus and Bacchus showing reverence for the intoxication brought on by wine consumption with reverent if not fully religious tone. A thousand years after Jesus Chateau de Goulaine was built; it is the oldest known still operating winery.

At To Dine For Catering, in junction with Drink – Bar and Events, we are more than happy to include wine, beer or full service bars at your next event. Contact us with inquiries and we will fulfill all your Portland catering needs. Cheers!

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Anthropology of Cheese

Anthropology of Cheese

brought to you by:

To Dine For Catering, serving Portland’s catering needs.

             Cheese is formed by denaturing the protein casein in milk which causes the proteins to then stick together; this is called coagulation. The name casein is derived from a Latin word caseus which is also where we derive the word cheese. The denaturing is usually done by an enzyme called Rennet that acidifies the milk causing the curds to separate from the rest of the liquid. This liquid is also knows as whey. These curds separated from the whey and are further processed into cheese by methods specific to the kind of cheese being produced. Depending on the animal milk, the molds or other ingredients introduced and the artisanal nature of the cheese maker hundreds of different cheeses are produced around the world.

Archaeologically cheese shows up first in the record in Poland where cheese strainers with milk fat on them have been recovered and dated to 5,500 year ago. It has also been proposed that cheese making coincided with sheep domestication which may have started as much as 8,000 years ago. It is thought by some that cheese may have been discovered by traders who were storing milk in animal stomachs (a common container in the years before zip lock bags); the rennet in the stomach caused the proteins to denature and separated the curds from the whey. There are many legends of an Arabian trader who stored milk in stomachs; he is credited by some with discovering cheese but it is likely that cheese could have also been discovered many times independently due to a desire to store milk for long periods. Egyptian tomb paintings have representations of cheese that date back 2,000 years. Homer has a Cyclops making cheese in his Odyssey and Pliny the Elder devotes a chapter in his Natural History describing the diversity of cheeses in the early Roman Empire. Because house and monastery cheese making became popular, local characteristics (due to local molds) became regionally prevalent in cheeses. Brittan claims to have 700 distinct cheese varieties while France and Italy have 400 different cheeses attributed to each of their countries. The cheeses we know as Cheddar, Gouda, Camembert, and Parmesan are all cheeses that came about after about 1,500 A.D. Today The International Dairy Association only acknowledges around 500 different cheeses worldwide. This year Swiss Emmentaler has been named the best cheese in the world scoring 97.85 out of 100 points at the international cheese competition held in Wisconsin.

Cheese is not just delicious; it has been shown to have positive effects on sleep as well. In 2005 the British Cheese Board released a study in which the majority of people who consumed cheese claimed to have better sleep. This is due to the amino acid in cheese called tryptophan which is the same amino acid in Turkey that makes you fall asleep after Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, this study showed that different cheeses produce different types of dreams. This makes me wonder if there is a cheese that makes you dream of cheese and if so where can I get some? So, the next time you are having an event catered around Portland don’t forget to call us at To Dine For Catering and we will make sure to add the cheese!

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Bacon – A Portland favorite, especially in catering.

Anthropology of Bacon brought to you by:
To Dine For Catering, serving Portland’s catering needs.

​The earliest known record of pig meat dates from 8000 B.C. in southeastern Turkey which makes it the oldest known domesticated animal next to the dog. There seems to have been a boom in pig farming around 5000 B.C. in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East because the archeological record fills up with more than 20 subspecies of pig bones. Carvings that were found at the Iberian Peninsula called verracos were carved by Celt and date from between 5000 B.C. to 1000 A.D. They suggest that swine had some sort of religious role in their culture. Ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese sacrificed pigs to ward off bad spirits and it is though that the sacrificial needs of these cultures drove the process of pig domestication. Currently there is one pig for every person in China and they have 40% of the world’s pork. Denmark is the only country that actually has more pigs per capita than it has people. Good for them, it sounds like a nice place.
Cured pig meet is the product known so fondly as bacon and some of its earliest fans were the Romans who ate bacon boiled with figs which they called petaso. Bacon means meat from the “back of an animal” and comes from the Germanic base word bak. This is the same derivative that the English use to get their word for back. The average American eats 18 pounds of bacon every year with 70% of the bacon eaten in America being served for breakfast.
Bacon seems to have curious effects on people; the fact of the matter is that bacon is actually addictive! Studies show that bacon has six different types of umami. Umami is the term for savory and is one of the five basic taste profiles, the others being: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. A recent article on CNN’s health website says that these umami ingredients in bacon actually have neurochemical responses in the brain that are linked with addiction. By overloading our brain with delicious bacon we flood our pleasure centers creating an inflated pleasure threshold that needs more and more bacon to achieve the same “bacon high.” According to Arun Gupta of The Indypendent the chain lards on bacon that give bacon its flavor cannot be substituted by any other product. I could have told her that.
​Bacon is a $4 billion dollar business in America and is seeing an explosion in popularity which has been dubbed “bacon mania”. This surge of interest is seen as an American cultural characteristic and suggests that this love for bacon is in part a rebellion from a modern health-conscious social environment. Next time you think of catering something in Portland, remember to get something with bacon in it and think of To Dine For Catering to bring it to you. Viva la Bacon!

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Anthropology of Tomato;

With the tomato being such an important part of the To Dine For kitchen, one of Portland’s many great caterers.  We thought we would give you a little incite on this wonderful fruit of the Gods.

The tomato is a relative of the deadly nightshade and its name first appeared in the historic record in 1595. Before it was called the tomato it was called the golden apple in Spain for a while. Some botanists thought it was a type of eggplant. It was native to South America and it shows up in our around 500 BC archaeological record. The seeds were found in southern Mexico; the Pueblo people believed that by ingesting tomato seeds they were given the power of divination.

Most tomatoes probably started small and yellow. It was H. Cortes who may have brought the little yellow tomato to Europe. If it was Cortes then he did it right after he crushed the Aztecs and sacked their main city Tenochtitlan. If this is the case then the tomato is a war trophy.

Another possibility would be that Christopher Columbus could have brought them back with him as early as 1493. The distribution of the tomato was a quick one with tomatoes showing up in Italy and Britain between 1550 and 1590. Tomatoes were a hit and with that came hybrids. Today there are approximately 7500 varieties and probably more recipes than that on how to make the tomato into the fruit of the Gods.

This publication brought to you by Portland Catering blog expert,

Shawn Duncan

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Love is in the air…Valentine’s Day Catering

Are you wondering what to get that special someone or even more importantly, where to go eat?!  Maybe you waited too long to make a reservation to get into that hot new restaurant that is all the rave in Portland.

Why not consider catering.  An intimate dinner party for two, who wouldn’t want that.  Just think of the possibilities.

Create your own menu with a your partners favorite dishes.  No shopping to do, no cooking, no clean up.  Sounds like a win win situation to me.  You can even have us drop off the whole meal early so you can put it on your own serving ware.  Or maybe not, a relationship does have to based on trust first and foremost.  Besides, getting served in your own home is quite the decadent experience.

Will it be expensive?  Let’s be honest, it will be more than a restaurant. So if you plan on spending no more than a hundred dollars then this will not work.  But, if you are planning on going to one of Portland’s top restaurants, you WILL spend at least $300 for a party of two.  So why not grab a bottle of wine from the cellar (no corkage fee) and call Portland’s top catering company, To Dine For, a get a romantic evening set up that your loved one will remember for the rest of his or her life.  And just think, you can get drunk at home at not have to drive, no sitter for the baby and / or puppy, the next step in Valentine’s Day is right up stairs or wherever your little love nest might be.

If you have already made plans for a great dinner out, then make a note to remind yourself for next year.  Personalized catering for your intimate dinner for two is as easy as an email or phone call to Portland’s five star rated catering company, To Dine For Catering.

Lots of love,


Valentine's Day For Two

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Wedding caterer and catering weddings

It’s crunch time people!  If you haven’t booked your caterer for 2014, I suggest you make it a priority.  Time slots are filling up and if a caterer is going to give you a personal experience an not just have you be another number in their books, you must book soon.  Sure, there are many caterers that will keep booking and booking, but do you want someone catering your event that has ten other event to attend to on the same day?  How can a company make sure everything is up to your standards if employees are just looking at a to do list.

With To Dine For Catering in Portland, you get that personal experience.  We are only booking one wedding per day (possibly two if the second is small and is a drop off style only) in order to make sure you have the best of the best working for you.  Right from the start, our clients work directly with the owner, Nick Zorich, and he personally sees every detail through the very end.  From picking out product, working in the kitchen and working on site with the rest of the professional crew, he will ensure a perfect day.

I have been to the wedding shows and have seen first hand the amount of work some caterers will book on a given day.  How can you trust a company to give you the personal touch that your wedding deserves if they have ten other event the same day.  Can it be done?  Of course, many places do it.  Can it be done as well as a catering company that cares more about their customers experience than the bottom line?  Probably not.

I am certainly not trying to get you into a panic, but now is the time to start making final decisions and marking them off your list.  For nothing else, for the peace of mind that comes when you are moving forward and are confidant you have made the right choice.  In this case, I, and according to our great five star reviews on City Search, Yelp, Angie’s List and Google – To Dine For is the right choice.

Be sure to check out Portland’s top wedding planner Luxe, voting number one three years running, as we have started working together in 2013.

Stay well my friends and be sure to get your to do list done.

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Super Bowl is coming up!!! Time to hire a caterer in Portland!

Are you ready for some football?!  What an exciting season, the Seahawks are doing great (my Steelers could be doing better) and of course the Trail Blazers are keeping everyone on their toes.  But that’s basketball and we are talking football.

Have you ever considered the idea of using a caterer for your super bowl party?  Sure it’s fun to spend all day in the kitchen wrapping those little wieners into pillsbury dough or cleaning off that grill after its sat all winter.  Maybe you should take a break, you deserve one after all, right?  The holidays were enough and now it is time for you to have someone else do the work and CLEAN UP :)

To Dine For Catering in Portland, OR has great ideas and delicious menu items for your next big bash.  Wouldn’t you rather just make a phone call and have the day for yourself, instead of working all day in the kitchen prepping and then to have to spend all night cleaning up.  Portland’s top caterer will come in, set everything up, serve incredible food and then clean it all up.  All you are left to do is enjoy your winning teams victory.  And those great commercials, haha!

So what are you waiting for?  Don’t get left out in the cold, call today and reserve the date before someone else does.  We will create the perfect menu to your tastes and bring all the necessary tables, decorations, and everything needed to serve the food.  We can drop off or impress your friends and have someone on staff passing hors de vors, that’s fancy for appetizers.  All levels of service to match your budget can easily be arranged by checking our website and sending us an email.

Stay safe and don’t let your guests drive intoxicated.   How?  Call us and we can arrange to have a bartender serve your guests, plus we can bring all the alcohol as well.  How easy is that?  No trip to Costco and all over the place trying to find this or that.


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