The Scent of Cinnamon and Chasing Down Humoral Theory

Purple bougainvillea flowers hung thick and rope-like over the sand-colored walls, their little white hearts nearly pulsating in the blazing noon heat of Rabat, Morocco. The door of The English Bookshop stood half-opened. The stern English proprietor stood behind the counter, his thin pale fingers reaching into scuffed cardboard boxes, filled with the newest shipment of books…

The Copeland Spoon: A Taste of Material Culture from Early Virginia

My mother recently gave me an old pewter spoon, one with a story that tallies with my interest in American culinary history. She’d been cleaning out her kitchen cupboards and a couple of closets, and found the spoon, which she’d forgotten she’d had. The touchmark at the end of the handle reads “Joseph Copeland, 1675,…

Day 8: Apples – Celebrate American Food History

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Folk proverb Two stories convey the essence of apples to me. The first involves an almost surgical treatment of an apple tree in our front yard: One autumn day, Dad’s boss – Dr. C. S. Holton – appeared at the back door of our rambling old ex-farm house, its…

Time to Cook

It’s time … to share a pie or something else with someone today.

Tooth Dullers and Weevil Castles – Life Before the Mast

Englishmen, and more especially seamen, love their bellies above anything else. ~ Samuel Pepys In which we meet ship’s biscuit,* that sustainer of seafarers, soldiers, and travelers since the days of the Romans’ buccellum and before. Only a hammer could do justice to this twice-cooked, rock-hard bread made only of flour, water, and salt, this…

The New World, through the Eyes of Thomas Hariot

To come upon Roanoke Island on a sun-drenched day, surrounded by Roanoke Sound and Croatan Sound, is to gaze upon a place of mystery,  a place, no, the catalyst that set off the English settlement of the New World. It’s a place where glittering blue waters roll like hundreds of diamonds spilling from a jeweler’s velvet sack,…

Transform Your Aching Soul with Cooking

Photo credit: C. Bertelsen Living today’s hurry-up-run-run-run-faster-faster-text-text lifestyle tends to blunt contact with more earthy things, like cooking. The act of cooking offers something that the stiffest drink or most potent tranquilizer cannot. Dare I say it out loud? It’s even better than sex, in a way. Especially when chocolate is involved, but that’s another…

What is “American” Food?

Jean Hewitt, author of The New York Times Heritage Cookbook (1980),  stated that “It is unfortunate that a foreign visitor can travel on our superhighways from coast to coast [about 1544 miles], Maine to Florida, and go away with the impression that Americans subsist largely on a diet of hot dogs, hamburgers and soggy French fries.” (p….