Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.
Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture. Today, most of the food energy consumed by the world population is supplied by the food industry.
A staple food, sometimes simply referred to as a staple, is a food that is eaten routinely and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet in a given population, supplying a large fraction of the needs for energy-rich materials and generally a significant proportion of the intake of other nutrients as well. Most people live on a diet based on just a small number of staples.
Staple foods vary from place to place, but typically they are inexpensive or readily available foods that supply one or more of the three organic macronutrients needed for survival and health: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Typical examples of staples include tuber- or root-crops, chicken, grains, legumes, and other seeds. The staple food of a specific society may be eaten as often as every day, or every meal. Early agricultural civilizations valued the foods that they established as staples because, in addition to providing necessary nutrition, they generally are suitable for storage over long periods of time without decay. Such storable foods are the only possible staples during seasons of shortage, such as dry seasons or cold-temperate winters, against which times harvests have been stored; during seasons of plenty wider choices of foods may be available.
The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are a root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of Convolvulaceae, I. batatas is the only crop plant of major importance—some others are used locally, but many are actually poisonous. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum) and does not belong to the nightshade family.
The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas. Some cultivars of Ipomoea batatas are grown as ornamental plants; the name "tuberous morning glory" may be used in a horticultural context.
A baked potato, or jacket potato, is the edible result of baking a potato. When well cooked, a baked potato has a fluffy interior and a crisp skin. It may be served with fillings and condiments such as butter, cheese or ham. Potatoes can be baked in a conventional gas or electric oven, a convection oven, a microwave oven, on a barbecue grill, or on/in an open fire. Some restaurants use special ovens designed specifically to cook large numbers of potatoes, then keep them warm and ready for service.
Prior to cooking, the potato should be scrubbed clean, washed and dried with eyes and surface blemishes removed, and possibly basted with oil or butter and/or salt. Pricking the potato with a fork or knife allows steam to escape during the cooking process. Potatoes cooked in a microwave oven without pricking the skin might split open due to built up internal pressure from unvented steam. It takes between one and two hours to bake a large potato in a conventional oven at 200 °C (392 °F). Microwaving takes from six to twelve minutes depending on oven power and potato size, but does not generally produce a crisp skin.
Mashed potato is a dish prepared by mashing boiled potatoes. Recipes started appearing no later than 1747 with an entry in The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse. Dehydrated and frozen mashed potatoes are available in many places.
Hospitality is the relationship between the guest and the host, or the act or practice of being hospitable. This includes the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.