Every year in Uto, a remote town at the Southern tip of Japan, a festival is held to celebrate a woman known locally as the Mother of the Sea. Dr Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker died without knowing her research would save the Japanese seaweed industry and lead to a world multi-billion dollar obsession with sushi. The story of nori in Japan.
"... I love the version of the Thanksgiving story in the movie Addams Family Values, because I get to see the Indians win." [SLGuardian]
New analysis on Richard III's bones reveal the richer diet available to a king, as well as his drinking habits.
The Imperial Kitchen
Among the kiosks, halls, reception chambers, and harem baths, I suspect that visitors today spend the least time of all in the palace kitchens—unless they have an interest in Chinese porcelain, which is displayed in there. Otherwise there’s nothing much to see, just a series of domed rooms. Outside you can count the ten pairs of massive chimneys, but there’s no smoke. It’s a pity that the building is so quiet, because it was in here, over four centuries, that one aspect of Istanbul’s imperial purpose was most vividly expressed.
"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]
Where Restaurant Reservations Come From: Why did the practice develop? In the startup terms of our day, what problem did the institution of restaurant reservations solve? Well, the answer boils down to... sex and propriety.
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.
"The idea that Medieval people drank beer or wine to avoid drinking bad water is so established that even some very serious scholars see no reason to document or defend it; they simply repeat it as a settled truth. In fact, if no one ever documents the idea, it is for a very simple reason: it's not true."
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.
“Movie theaters wanted nothing to do with popcorn,” Smith says, “because they were trying to duplicate what was done in real theaters. They had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it.” Movie theaters were trying to appeal to a highbrow clientele, and didn’t want to deal with the distracting trash of concessions–or the distracting noise that snacking during a film would create. - So Why Do We Eat Popcorn At The Movies Anyway? (Smithsonian Mag)
The history of the hamburger could be a relatively short story, or one spanning centuries and continents, depending on how far you disassemble the modern hamburger. If you look for the origins of ground meat between two pieces of bread, that's something American, but where and when exactly is the question. But how did we get the ground meat patty? You can thank the Mongols and Kublai Khan, who brought their ground meat to Russia. Oh, and don't forget the fish sauce! [more inside]
As part of the preparation for a special exhibition on the history of Chinese food in America, the Smithsonian opens the world's oldest can of fortune cookies. More posts on the exhibit research under the Sweet & Sour tag. [previously]
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.
"In between surviving multiple point-blank-range assassination attempts and a failed kidnapping in which he emerged alive from the burning wreckage of a battleship his own air force had just bombed, Pibulsongkram decided that Thailand needed noodles that would advance the country’s industry and economy."
The five scholars explored the question, “What is the meaning of food?” and debated its role in ethnic and religious tensions. They also examined the possibility that “food, which is something that all of us share, albeit in different ways, can be used to bring people together instead of differentiating between us.” According to Goldstein, one of the most important ideas to come out of the group was that food is a social process rather than a commodity and thus is central to multicultural understanding: “[Food] has to do with how we live and it’s not just an object that we ingest.” Food: History & Culture in the West [PDF], was a 2010 UC Berkley Symposium exploring multiple links between food and culture: [more inside]
"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]
We know the Obamas planted a vegetable garden in 2009, bringing back the tradition of a White House Vegetable Garden (7:44 YT video), and Barack has home-brewed beer. The White House then released the recipes for their honey ale and honey porter, but what of the other White House recipes? Here are some modern Thanksgiving recipes, but what about the rest of the year? Our White House provides a glimpse into past White House kitchens, menus, and recipes, but that's still too thin. More than 50 White House recipes? Still not enough! OK, how about the complete White House Cookbook from 1887 (on Archive.org, also on Project Gutenberg and Google books). Vintage Recipes has kindly provided a tidied up table of contents and recipes for quicker browsing, but be warned, the techniques are dated, and some of the household tips are a bit questionable. More on presidential gastronomy, previously.
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),
A Guide to Writing Sherlockian-Tea Habits. In which EnigmaticPenguin (of death) schools fanfiction authors in correct English tea theory and practice. Follow up: Biscuits.
io9 asks the question: When and Why did Science Fiction drop the ubiquitous "Dinner in a pill" device?
This had to be the most amazing merchandising operation I had ever seen! I don't remember whether I ate a hamburger for lunch that day or not. I went back to my car and waited around until about 2:30 in the afternoon, when the crowd dwindled down to just an occasional customer. Then I went over to the building and introduced myself to Mac and Dick McDonald. (very previously) [more inside]
Charles C. Mann on How the Potato Changed the World. Photo Gallery. Video. Alfred Crosby Interviewed on the Columbian Exchange.
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]
What species of food is 2000 years old, has evolved copious adaptive variations, and still tastes delicious as ever? [more inside]
You can tell how strongly a man or woman yearns for freedom by counting the condiments in his or her refrigerator. - Tom Nealon's series on the secret history of condiments.
The Language of Food is a blog with only four entries, but each one is an excellent, well-researched essay on, yes, food and language: ketchup, entrée, dessert, and ceviche. The author, Dan Jurafsky, teaches a parallel course at Stanford, the syllabus for which you can peruse here. via (mefi's own) honestengine.blogspot.com
The History Chef! is a fun blog that explores the intersection of food and history. There are short entries on historical figures and topics like Thomas Jefferson's Chef and The Embalmed Beef Scandal. Of course there are recipes: Thomas Jefferson Macaroni and Cheese, George Washington Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Andrew Jackson Cheddar Cheese Bread. [more inside]
Scans of early 20th-century American menus, courtesy of Colorado College's Tutt Library.
Joe Pastry doesn't do cake porn, but he's very fond of cake history and baking science. Recently, Joe wrote a heavily critical review of home-baking folk hero Rose Levy Beranbaum's latest book. Her response was to call him up and smooth things over herself. Also, Rose on cookbook photography/publishing and on writing technical, encyclopedic books for an amateur niche audience. [more inside]
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware that jaups in luggies: But, if Ye wish her gratefu prayer, Gie her a Haggis!
Just nae call i' English! Food historian Catherine Brown has announced that Haggis, the traditional Scottish dish, was invented in England rather than Scotland. Scottish butchers have dismissed the daft claim. But just in case she turns out to be right, there's always... curry? [more inside]
A daily photoblog of the mediterranean island of Mallorca. Checking the tags is a good way to trawl the archive.
food; history; customs and traditions; art
food; history; customs and traditions; art
Ivan Day is both chef and historian. Using old equipment and original research in primary sources for recipes and descriptions, he can "cook a meal from any time from the Battle of Agincourt to the First World War," recreating historic banquets and collations in full detail. Galleries of his food exhibitions show that he can back that claim up, and that rapid changes in culinary trends are not of recent vintage. [more inside]
According to legend, Einstein was eating chocolate when he came upon the theory of relativity. These sites are all about chocolate and candy in general. Chocolate Obsession. Hyperbole? Maybe. Just a little. Ok, a lot. Chocolate does have a lot to offer, though. It is a one of a kind food characterized by a truly unique and intense flavor. The idea of Jim's Chocolate Mission came after a discussion with friends about the greatest chocolate bar. Was is the Wispa? Galaxy? Clark? The Chocolate Review is most likely to review English chocolate because that's where they're from, but they also do imports. [more inside]
Top Events USA lists their top 20 events across the USA, the top 10 events and festivals for each of the United States, and lists of the best annual events and festivals by category or theme. [more inside]
With flagrant disregard for their waistlines and their own gustatory limitations, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins (known as The Supersizers) have been going back in time to the diets of their ancestors for the (education?) amusement of the general public (well, people who watch BBC Two). Restoration | Edwardian | Victorian | Wartime | Seventies [more inside]
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