The History Chef
July 10, 2010 6:21 PM   Subscribe

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.

I enjoyed reading the sidebar with food facts about each U.S. President. I learned that Franklin Pierce "became the first president to hire a bodyguard after having been attacked by a detractor with a hard-boiled egg!"
posted by marxchivist (15 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
I like that sidebar: During William Henry Harrison's presidential campaign, hard cider flowed so fast that he became known as the “Hard Cider Candidate.” To feed his many rowdy supporters, Harrison’s cooks served an election dish called Burgoo, which was made by dropping chopped vegetables into warm squirrel stew!

Tipsycanoe and Burgoo, too!
posted by not_on_display at 7:27 PM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Trivia and food. My two obsessions. The History Chef website delights me. Though am I the only one wondering how they managed to keep the ice cream from turning into instant soup when Dolley Madison and co. served it?

In a somewhat similar vein, but focused on teenage life in Regency England, I also love NineteenTeen, a site by historical fiction authors Regina Scott and Marissa Doyle.
Though it's aimed at teens and the teenage experience, it makes for fantastic, informative reading. Flirting with fans, real 19th century slang. The kind of thing I can browse for hours.
posted by SaharaRose at 7:57 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks to this, I found something I really like about Richard Nixon! Grapefruit Avocado Salad.
posted by Miko at 8:23 PM on July 10, 2010

I remember a Reading Rainbow where Levar Burton was sent to a Ren Faire and the book talked about how medieval chefs would cook a pig and a pheasant and cut them in half and sew like the front half of a pig and the back half of a pheasant together and serve it (or cut them before hand, sew it, cook it and serve it). I want that recipe.
posted by spec80 at 8:29 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

John Adam's Easy Baked Beans... "Food historians say that New England Indians mixed beans with maple syrup and bear fat. They then placed the mixture in an earthenware pot, buried it in a pit, and covered it with hot rocks."

Bostonian here. I actually really want to try this.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 9:52 PM on July 10, 2010

So US Presidents were really into their carbs. Who knew?
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:20 PM on July 10, 2010

@spec80: here you go...
posted by ninazer0 at 10:27 PM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

This looks like a real good place for me to complain about the current Kraft Baked Mac & Cheese commercials with Thomas Jeffferson - guys, if you're going to do a whole commercial, and maybe even a whole ad campaign, centered around a historical figure that everyone knows what he looks like, at least HIRE AN ACTOR THAT KIND OF LOOKS LIKE THAT PERSON. Oh, and maybe give him some dialogue that might have conceivably been spoken by that person, who; again, we all know.
posted by yhbc at 10:27 PM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

I am not a cook!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:29 PM on July 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Hmm. After I wrote my rant above, I went and googled to see if I could find the ad I was talking about - not surprisingly, all YouTube instances of it have been deleted, but the ad itself has drawn a lot of attention from the usual right-wing suspect websites for "trashing Jefferson". I didn't know that, but for once in my life I have something in common with at least a few folks at LGF and that other site that sounds like PreeFreublic.
posted by yhbc at 10:35 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh man, thank you ninazer0!!!
posted by spec80 at 4:36 AM on July 11, 2010

This is awesome, and so is SaharaRoses' link! I added both to my feed reader site unseen based on the description and I was not disappointed when I dug in. Thank you for satisfying my inner history nerd.

Although I do think the History Chef underestimates how many people are familiar with mac and cheese casserole. I've eaten it that way plenty of times, even if I do like the (non-Kraft) box that we get at our local supermarket just fine.
posted by immlass at 6:17 AM on July 11, 2010

Coincidentally, Sotheby's is preparing an auction of antique cookbooks dating back to the sixteenth century. They threw a dinner party. Real all about it.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:59 AM on July 11, 2010

Aw, my vote is that I love those Kraft Mac&Cheese Jefferson commercials. In fact, I had no idea that Jefferson had any real connection to the Mac and Cheese recipe, and thought they just picked the silliest president to be outraged about recipe theft (Paul Giamatti must've been busy). Now, it turns out that he really DID have a masterful Mac and Cheese recipe, and now I have learned something about American History. I already know what Jefferson looks like because there's a nickel in my pocket, but spare change taught me nothing about pasta. "Gadzooks those handles are hot!" makes me laugh every time. Dumb founding father.
posted by AzraelBrown at 5:03 AM on July 12, 2010

Of course, the dish that Jefferson ate is nothing like the boxed version we are familiar with today. Using pasta and parmesan cheese imported from Italy, Jefferson’s chefs cooked the macaroni until soft, then coated it with butter and added cheese. The mixture was then placed in a casserole dish, dotted with more butter and cheese, and baked until it was slightly brown with some crustiness on top.

Homemade mac'n'cheez is the BEST. But seriously, you need to put some breadcrumbs on top to get that crustiness.
posted by DU at 5:24 AM on July 12, 2010

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