We May Have the Ancient Romans to Thank for Hamburgers

vvmich, iStock via Getty Images
vvmich, iStock via Getty Images

Before the Whopper and the Big Mac, there was isicia omentata. Seasoned with white wine and fish sauce, the ancient Roman recipe hardly resembles fast food, but experts believe it could be history's earliest example of a hamburger, IFL Science reports.

The cookbook Apicius, which dates from the fourth or fifth century and was likely named for the famously gluttonous Roman foodie Marcus Gavius Apicius, provides a glimpse into the extravagant diets of early Rome's upper class. One of the more familiar recipes in the tome is a minced meat patty served with a bread roll—in other words, a burger in the barest sense of the term.

Isicia omentata wasn't intended to be a cheap bite for the hungry commoner like today's burgers are. The meat was flavored with ingredients like pine nuts, peppercorns, and a fermented fish sauce called garum. (Though adding seafood to your burger may seem strange today, garum wasn't that different from the Chinese fish sauce that eventually evolved into present-day ketchup.) The roll that came with it was soaked in white wine—a departure from your average sesame seed bun.

It's unclear if this dish had any influence on the modern hamburger. Many experts credit German immigrants with bringing minced meat patties from Hamburg to the United States. Known as "Hamburg steaks," those first patties were served without buns, and they were also considered gourmet cuisine. The hamburger's affordability is a relatively recent development in the food's history.

If you're interested in dining as the Romans did, you can find the recipe for isicia omentata online. Fries are optional.

[h/t IFL Science]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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Wax Paper vs. Parchment Paper: What’s the Difference for Cooking?

Wax paper is great for keeping your counter space clean (as seen above).
Wax paper is great for keeping your counter space clean (as seen above).

When it comes to kitchen accessories, there are utensils like ladles and spatulas, bakeware like cupcake pans, and then covers and wraps like aluminum foil and plastic bags. But one kitchen item can result in some confusion—paper. Specifically, wax paper versus parchment paper. Despite similar appearances, they're not the same. What’s the difference between the two?

It’s pretty simple. Parchment paper tolerates heat and wax paper does not. Parchment paper is a sturdy, kitchen-specific item made with silicone that resists both grease and moisture. It’s perfect for cake molds or for wrapping fish. (So long as you don’t reuse it for those tasks.) You can safely use parchment paper in an oven.

Wax paper also has a non-stick surface, but it’s not intended for use around any kind of heat source. The wax on the paper could melt. It’s better to use it to cover countertops to make clean-up easier. You can also use it to roll out dough or pound chicken breasts into submission.

Though parchment paper is typically more expensive, it’s far more versatile. You should opt for wax paper only if you plan on making a mess and want to discard it easily. But don’t get the two mixed up, as wax paper near heat could require another kitchen accessory: a fire extinguisher.

[h/t MarthaStewart.com]