March is National Flour Month, and to celebrate this can’t-live-without baking ingredient, this article is reflecting on modern day traditions and celebrations, thanks to flour: cakes, pastries, muffins, doughnuts, pies- countless desserts that are associated with accomplishment, celebration, togetherness, and family traditions.
How is Flour So Great?
First and foremost, thanks to flour, we have cake. Because cakes are such an important custom associated with celebration in modern American culture, it could be hard to imagine birthdays or weddings without this delicious dessert, especially topped with icing and decorated with various sugary sweet symbols of joy and togetherness.
In some regions of the United States, for example, weddings also incorporate a table full of cookies into the wedding reception tradition, using flour to create dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of delicious cookies for guests to enjoy.
Breakfast get-togethers often call for muffins made of flour and flavored with fruits like bananas, blueberries, or even mixed berries. Even more popular than muffins, of course, are just about everybody’s favorite: doughnuts. While they can be a bit messy, sticky, and not as good for the waistline as fiber-filled muffins, doughnuts rank as an important breakfast tradition, treat, and symbol of collaboration and togetherness in the morning.
Special holiday occasions usually incorporate special pie recipes, with flaky, buttery crusts made with flour as a leading ingredient. Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, Fourth of July strawberry pie, and Christmas apple pie are just some standing family meal traditions.
Flour even plays a key part in celebrating specific religious ceremonies. Across the Christian traditions, as just one example, small wafers, crackers, or cakes are served as part of the Communion ritual, considered a very sacred aspect of Christian worship.
Last but not least, flour is also a large part of creating luxurious, rich, and delicate gourmet pastries that serve as the mark of status and distinction for some of the most elite culinary professionals in the world. From light and delicate French pastries, to layers and layers of Italian Tiramisu, flour is but one of many ingredients that world-class professionals use to create masterpieces.
In today’s modern food culture, flour is an ingredient in foods that are photographed and featured in countless magazines, filmed and critiqued on popular culinary television shows and televised contests, and even featured in films. When considering how important and versatile flour is, and yet how little it is discussed- not to mention celebrated- it seems to be possibly the unsung hero of not only the culinary world, but of modern culture in general.