Cleaning the knives was one of the daily, heavy, unpleasant household tasks through the long 19th century. [more inside]
"Whatever [the ingredients] taste like together is not particularly relevant." Terry Gross interviews married culinary historians Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe on the culinary history of the Great Depression and their new book 'A Square Meal' (37:00 audio, transcribed sections)
Around Christmas weird vestigial foods reappear. Fruitcake, eggnog, and weirdest and in America all but forgotten: mincemeat pie. The modern take is a sort of sugary glop made by grinding dried fruit, leaving even the homemade stuff mostly miserable and pointless. But it wasn't always like that way as the late (previously) Cliff Doerksen noted. [more inside]
" Chinese emperors of the Tang Dynasty liked their ice cream a special way: Fermented buffalo or goat milk was heated, then thickened with flour and seasoned with camphor, which made it flake like snow. For good measure fragments of reptile brain were added, along with an eyeball or two." - "It Ought To Be Called Vice Cream" - Austerity Kitchen on the social and technological history of Ice Cream.
Michael Twitty is becoming one of the most transformative figures in the world of food. Reinterrogating and recreating African-American history in the context of American culinary history through his blog Afroculinaria, Twitty argues for "culinary justice" in food writing and the conversation on food history. His project (and forthcoming book of the same name) The Cooking Gene is in part a product of his Southern Discomfort Tour, a journey retracing the preservation and transmission of culinary knowledge before, during and beyond slavery. [more inside]
What were the food and cooking techniques of the Viking Age? you could ask The Viking Answer Lady or get pollen analysis, reconstruction tips, and recipes from The Viking Food Guy, or you could just ask Chef Jesper Lynge (Daily Mail) who is attempting to revive Viking Cusine from his cafe in an Danish Iron Age graveyard. ( Recipies and descriptions )
Cooking In The Archives: recreating recipes from the Early Modern Peroid (1600s-1800s) in a modern kitchen. Not old enough? Then try some authentically medieval recipes.
" “I tell my daughters that when I go, they’ll know the good recipes from the dirty pages.” [NYT]] A group of Nashville writers mounts an exhibit of the dirty pages from their own family cookbooks.
Irish-American Dining. A history of and guide to food that is expressly Irish-American, by Mefi's own Max Sparber. Irish Egg Rolls! Early onion-based pub food! The hidden history of the Shamrock Shake! [via mefi projects]
The History Kitchen takes a quick look at the food of the California Gold Rush, and has a recipe for Hangtown Fry.
"Nowadays, we tend to eat biscuits with beverages like tea and coffee. But in the past they were an important element of the dessert course and were dipped into sweet wine." - Food History Jottings (previously) on the strange world of Regency biscuits. (Cookies to you US types.)
"In peace or war, the ultimate refuge—the sanctuary of all that is humane—lies distilled within the warmth of the kitchen." Journalist Paul Salopek pauses in the middle of his 21,000-mile Out of Eden Walk from Africa to South America -- Ethiopia to Tierra del Fuego -- to reflect on the food shared with him during his time in Israel and Palestine. "Watching the women of Nablus move briskly, efficiently, purposefully about their tasks, chatting, often joking (about men, politics, life), I am reminded of all the meals that admitted me briefly into the conflicted lives of Israelis and Palestinians." [more inside]
His recipe calls for a bustard stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with a guinea fowl stuffed with a teal stuffed with a woodcock stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a plover stuffed with a lapwing stuffed with a quail stuffed with a thrush stuffed with a lark stuffed with an ortolan bunting stuffed with a garden warbler stuffed with an olive stuffed with an anchovy stuffed with a single caper - The Roti Sans Pareil or Roast Without Equal.
Each week for a year, the folks in the special collections library at the University of St. Andrews are taking a how-to book from the collection and following its instructions for a project, in order to get a clearer sense of what life was like a century or two ago. Thus far in 52 Weeks of Historical How-Tos, they've learned how to make shoe polish like an 1825 footman, bake mince pie from 10 different recipes dating from 1710-1862, perform parlour tricks to amaze your friends, and take photographs via the wet collodion process.
Celebrate author Laura Ingalls Wilder's 147th birthday with a recipe for Laura's Wedding Cake, taken from Little House Cookbook, Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories. (The Hairpin)
"....many a tragic episode in family life is superinduced by the baleful influence of a tortured stomach. Mighty is the hand that holds the ballot-box, but mightier is the hand that wields to advantage the pepper-box, the salt-spoon, and the sugar-shaker." read the entirely of Maud C. Cooke's, Breakfast, Dinner and Supper; or, What To Eat and How To Prepare It (1897) online and enter a world of home remedies, large scale recipes, sound advice, leftover wizardry, squirrel stews, scientific digestion, and horrible things done to vegetables.
"If there is an assassination planned for the meal, then it is seemliest that the assassin should be seated next to he who is to become the subject of his craft" - Leonardo da Vinci: head of the kitchen, designer of horse-pulled nut-crushers, inventor of napkins, and assassination etiquette expert.
The Ministry Of Food was a British government ministerial posts separated from that of the Minister of Agriculture. A major task of the latter office was to oversee rationing in the United Kingdom arising out of World War II. They made many newsreels and PSAs to inform the citizenry how to use the food rationing system: Rationing is introduced in 1939 The new ration books are coming! Cod Liver Oil Here's spud in your eye Don't cut that bread! DON'T WASTE FOOD! Dig For Victory! Milk is here! In addition, some short films instructed people in how to best use the new rationing system : Two Cooks And A Cabbage How To Make Tea Rabbit Pie Buying black market meat: a Partner in CRIME A US view explaining UK rationing to the States.
"New Englanders learn quickly to dismiss the chowder where tomato ruins its gorgeous broth, where references to New York tarnish its name...However, few know how such distinctions came about in the first place, what processes were involved that resulted in one person's disgust of another's beloved creation, and why, to this day, do we stand by such convictions?" The New England Chowder Compendium, from the McIntosh Cookery Collection at the UMass Amherst library. [more inside]
Want to make historic recipes? You can help transcribe the University of Iowa Libraries age old assortment of handwritten cookbooks, ca. 1600s-1960s, documenting culinary history in America and Europe and how tastes have changed over the years. Copy the text as is, including misspellings and abbreviations. [more inside]
Archibald Query 's creation, Marshmallow Fluff, followed a winding path to household name. Most famous as a component of the Fluffernutter sandwich, this icon of New England cuisine appears in hundreds of other recipes, including whoopie pies and Mamie Eisenhower's Never Fail Fudge. You can even try making it yourself. . Other homages include the pop-style "Fluffart" of Susan Olsen, perhaps better known to us as the Brady Bunch's Cindy; some video tributes, and the What the Fluff? Festival in Somerville, MA (previously),
io9 asks the question: When and Why did Science Fiction drop the ubiquitous "Dinner in a pill" device?
These people in the midwest, they wouldn't know a bagel from a donut. They only saw a bagel if one fell off a truck. Four professors were dissecting it before they found out what it's all about.
Hiya Freddie baby, give me a dozen...my life's blood, without bagels what is a day? Yah make it a dozen assorted. Dat's it, give me the garlic, the sesame, the onion, give me them all baby, that's it! They're still handmade eh? Hot Bagels! Wait a second let me PAY yah! Here you are, kid. Thank you. Have a good day.
Food Fight: Does Healthy Food Have to Be More Expensive? In which the blog Get Rich Slowly chronicles an argument about nutrition vs cost and then invites readers to chime in.
Aspic and other delights showcases the absolute horrors of good, old-fashioned home cooking. Or, at least the advertisements for it. Aspic, in case you were wondering, is food, often meat or seafood encased in gelatin or cooled meat stock.
26 years ago today, we said goodbye to Ettore Boiardi - who fed the Plaza Hotel, Woodrow Wilson, millions of GIs, and - more likely than not - you. [more inside]
19th-century newspaper ads for patented stomach cures and digestive aids [...] foregrounded mince pie as the K2 of digestive summits. But for every published warning on the dangers of mince, the newspapers published a poem, essay, or editorial praising it as a great symbol of American cultural heritage or a nostalgic reminder of mother love and better times bygone—or even, as the State of Columbia, South Carolina, asserted in 1901, a beneficial Darwinian instrument that had "thinned out the weak ones" among the pioneering generations.So wrote Cliff Doerksen in his wonderful, James Beard award-winning article Mince Pie: The Real American Pie. Doerksen not only gives the history of this once most American of foods, he also makes two mince pies from 19th Century recipes to see if they are indeed all that. This is but one of many great articles Doerksen wrote for The Chicago Reader in recent years (links to a selection below the cut). Sadly, Cliff Doerksen passed at the age of 47 just before Christmas. [more inside]
Take oysters, parboile hem in her owne broth, make a lyour of crustes of brede & drawe it up wiþ the broth and vynegur mynce oynouns & do þerto with erbes. & cast the oysters þerinne. boile it. & do þerto powdour fort & salt. & messe it forth.
Three European 14th Century cookbooks: [more inside]
Three European 14th Century cookbooks: [more inside]
King of Fruits, Tempter of Adam, Prize of Paris: It's apple-picking time. The apple's origins reach into prehistory. Thanks to tremendous genetic variance in each new generation, humans have cultivated a dizzying number of named varieties, as many as 17,000, of which 7500 are available as growth stock. In the past, different apples were prized for particular strengths: cider pressing, storage, cooking, drying, or eating out of hand. Despite this bounty, just 15 shelf-stable, shiny, easy-to-pick varieties account for 90% of apple sales today. But heirloom apple growers are working to preserve the old flavors of the Roxbury Russet, the Westfield Seek-No-Further, the Fallawater, the Limbertwig, the King Luscious...
Soup has a history. Enjoy this comprehensive history of the humble (and sometimes not so humble) dish. A widely stated "fun fact" is that the earliest soup was made with hippopotamus bones, but fortunately today you have much tastier options. One favorite, chicken soup, is easy to make and really is good for you [pdf] .
Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project "...an online collection of some of the most important and influential American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century." Includes scanned, searchable, and downloadable copies of such titles as "The Virginia Housewife, Or, Methodical Cook," "Practical Sanitary and Economic Cooking Adapted to Persons of Moderate and Small Means," and "Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent."
Gode Cookery. A compilation of medieval recipes adapted for the 21st century kitchen. [via Monkeyfilter]
The Gallery of Regrettable Food: "Frizzle slices of cooked ham in hot butter, adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of drained prepared horseradish to each 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine. Add cheese." Advertisements, Strange recipes from "the golden age of butter", and just plain weird stuff. Also, I think this guy used to do my tech support. with thanks to Television Without Pity and cakeman
The Year In Pizza is a review of the happenings in one of the worst years ever for the pizza industry; what's touching, and quirky about this corporate industry wrap up is the inclusion of brief memorials for pizza murder victims, those workers slain by hungry robbers for whatever little cash they had on them. It's hard to imagine a "year in printing & bindery" review listing all the victims of industrial press manglings.
An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th Century. Because you never know when you'll need to make Marrow Without Marrow (Which No One Will Suspect), forget how to grease your Chicken Called Madhûna, or need to rustle up something for the in-laws (A Dish Praised in Springtime for Those with Fulness and Those with Burning Blood).
The Food Timeline: Want to know when people first started eating watermelon? This site claims to tell you (roughly). I've no idea how accurate their dates are but this is a grand place to surf foodstuffs. (Also links to some ancient, ancient recipes that sound mouth-watering.)