Excerpt ---- America had a taste for rosewater because England had a taste for rosewater, and England had a taste for rosewater because of The Crusades. “All the Crusaders marched off to the Middle East to defeat the infidels. What they did was they picked up an awful lot of Middle Eastern foodways,” says Sandy Oliver, a colonial food historian. The Crusaders became particularly fond of desserts that used rosewater and orange blossom water. When they returned home, they made rosewater by steeping fragrant roses in water. Then the English brought rosewater with them when they sailed to America. By the 18th century, Oliver says, the taste of America was “rosewater, cream, and sherry.” The floral water appeared everywhere in cookbooks, such as American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, published in 1796. In it, an apple pie recipe calls for “rose-water and sugar to your taste,” as do recipes for various puddings, custards, tarts, syllabub (a kind of frothy drink), cakes, and gingerbread. Modern Domestic Cooking, published in 1829, includes tips for making superior rosewater. Home cooks used their own rosewater in “French flummery,” macaroons, drop biscuits, and every kind of cake. Even William Henry Harrison’s favorite pound cake featured rosewater.
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