May 22 is National Vanilla Pudding Day, but what we enjoy today is far different from the dish’s origins. Culinary historians believe that the precursor of vanilla pudding originated in earl early medieval Europe, an evolution of an Arab pudding-like dish of rice and almonds. The oldest recipe known dates back to the early 13th century, a translation that is believed to have been based on a manuscript from the 12th century or earlier. Over the centuries, the recipe turned into blancmange (pronounced blah-MOHNJ), meaning “white dish,” from the Old French blanc mangier. This dish was enjoyed by Europe’s wealthy during the Middle Ages. It appears frequently in recipe collections of the time from all over the Continent, and is called one of “the few truly international dishes of medieval and early modern Europe.