Many Different Faces: Bibliography’s Extended Family

Cousin Connie Atherton, or Constance as she wanted to be called - she always said it sounded more grownup,  you know - inherited Grandma's large coffee-brown eyes. Grandpa's curly black hair went to his great-grandson Jake , whose sister Mildred emerged from their mother Flora's uterus with long tapered fingers, a Doppelganger of Uncle George,…

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Prelude to a Bio-Bibliography

“Let me take your coat, my dear.” I heard her voice as I stepped off the elevator, into the penthouse suite at the Chicago Hilton on a snowy day in late December. The tall, white-haired woman standing there, holding out her hands to me, drew me over the threshold, welcoming me. The color of Forget-Me-Nots,…

The Joy of Bibliographies

Compiling bibliographies is a bit like blowing bubbles, for you never know how big the bubbles will be or how far away they’ll float through the air. Or where they’ll land. And that’s the exciting bit about bibliographies. You can’t know when you set out on the journey where you'll end up. If you compile…

African Cuisines: Cookbooks for Exploration and Discovery of Superb Flavors

Only one of this year’s new releases in print cookbooks covers the cooking of Africa, unless you count books about Moroccan cooking by Fatéma Hal and Z. Guinaudeau, as well as Kittee Berns’s Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking. The rest only come in Kindle editions, a medium which is not my first choice…

And More Gifts: A Selection of Food and Culinary History Books Published in 2013

Before I list my choice of books for 2013, a caveat: I have not read all of these yet. What I attempt here is to list the food and culinary history tomes that interest me (and hopefully you!), published in 2013. The descriptions of these books come from various sources, usually the publisher. That said, if…

*”Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new”: A Sweet Potato Rhapsody

“Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new,” or so confessed St. Augustine, a Catholic saint born in 354 A.D., in what is now Algeria. And I, I could also say the same, about many things. One of them being sweet potatoes, a beloved Southern staple.** It was a Thanksgiving Day. I…

* New Bibliography Available, on Southern Food & Cooking & Stuff

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I love books passionately, especially cookbooks and any books about food. Because of my current emphasis on foods and cooking and foodways of the American South - tied as all that is to social change and the influx of new population groups - I have created a…

SUGARPLUM VISIONS: Christmas Cookies

...visions of sugarplums danced in their heads. ~~Clement C. Moore~~ " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" Happy Holidays to all readers and visitors to Gherkins & Tomatoes / Cornichons et Tomates! I will "see" you again on January 2. 'Tis soon the season to be jolly. And to bake cookies, the sugarplums of today. I'm…

Léon Isnard: Bringing the Cuisines of Africa to France

"It seems that the word couscous is a Gallic version of "rac keskes," which means "crushed small." ~ Leon Isnard Whether you think about it consciously or not, the nineteenth-century European drive for overseas colonies still molds our world. Ever since the Portuguese sailed for Prince Henry the Navigator out of Sagres, an ocean-facing place…

Le Potager du Roi, a Kitchen Garden Fit for a King

Winter still chills those of us north of equator and so the time has come to dream of gardens and kings and and cabbages and things like seed catalogs. A while ago (OK, more than a while!), because of the burgeoning trend nowadays for local foods and backyard gardens --- the most famous being the…

What’s New in Culinary Books

Pigs and hams, barbecue and ice cream --- all are foods associated with joy and love and celebration. In the United States, anyway. And writers take these foods and weave words around and around like so many carefully knitted stitches, creating new books, making this year an exciting time for food and history lovers. The…

The Fiction of Food: Good Reads

A novel thing, novels about food? Not really, not any more.  It seems like every publisher, and every writer, is racing behind the food-as-novel bandwagon, grasping at the flying straws, straining to hop aboard before  the cart crashes. Like all fads, trends, what-have-you crazes, some of these novels succeed, while the others appall,  so frightfully…

Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg

Now Christmas comes, ‘tis fit that we Should feast and sing, and merry be; Keep open house, let fiddlers play, A fig for cold, sing care away; And may they who thereat repine, On brown bread and small beer dine. Virginia Almanack 1766 To paraphrase former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld: There’s the Williamsburg Christmas…

Hunger is the Best Sauce

A hungry people listens not to reason, nor cares for justice, nor is bent by any prayers. [Lat., Nec rationem patitur, nec aequitate mitigatur nec ulla prece flectitur, populus esuriens.] De Brevitate Vitoe (XVIII), Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca) Chronic hunger is something that most of us in the United States will never really know.* Yet…

Ghosts of Gourmet: Ann Seranne

About three days ago, caught in the throes of egg cookery, I realized that Ann Seranne's name doesn't ring a whole lot of bells these days in food circles. Who? Even Alice Arndt's celebrated Culinary Biographies fails to mention Seranne. We shouldn't ignore this lady and her place in the pantheon of culinarians contributing to…

A Honey of a Bibliography

Beekeeping is farming for intellectuals. ~~Sue Hubbell, A Book of Bees Here are some of the many resources I've relied on for the series on honey and bees (9/28/09 through 10/1/09). If you read no other material on bees and beekeeping, be sure to read Dr. Eva Crane's work. Letters from the Hive: An Intimate…

Coming Up: New Food Memoirs & Other Treats

Food memoirs form just one of many research items on the list of materials used by culinary historians. In rounding out the larger picture of just what was going on in a specific time in history and related to the life of a specific individual, food memoirs cannot be beat. The following memoirs and other…

Old Cookbooks Online — Some New Goodies

165  of Virginia Tech's Newman Library's collection of thousands of rare and antique cookbooks just went digital. Most of the books stem from the late nineteenth century and many illustrate the trend toward scientific home making, or home economics. Browse the entire list HERE. Some of the highlights include: Edward Smith's  Foods. New York: D.…

The Random Herbalist: Books About Monastic and Medieval Gardens

I find the following books enlightening, soothing, and motivating. My plan is to create/design a medieval/monastic herb garden over the upcoming winter and plant it starting next spring.* Monastic Gardens, by Mick Hales (2000) Private worlds glimpsed by a privileged few, monasteries have long maintained an aura of mystery. Outsiders imagine the silent seclusion, the…

Reveling in Books: DIY (Old) Food, Knowledge Lost and Now Found

Want to make your own cheese? How about pickles or chow-chow? Sausage and headcheese? Raise a couple of cows or keep a flock of geese? At a time when people want, no, need, to know the how-tos of old foodways, it seems that there’s a book for making just about everything. Fortunately, because this knowledge…

American Cookbooks: History 101 (II)

Continued from April 28, 2009: By the 1820s other cookbooks followed, The Virginia Housewife among them, written by Mary Randolph, a member of one of Virginia's first families. These cookbooks were different from what we know today. They failed to mention of the size of the dishes used in baking, the number of portions the…

First You Settle the Pampas: Food in Colonial Argentina and Today (Conclusion)

Throughout the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata, the Roman Catholic Church proselytized the vast distances and founded convents. And the nuns who lived in those convents, and their Indian servants, soon became known for intricate sweets and other confections that had roots in the sweets that predominated in Moorish-ruled Spain for eight centuries until the…

Celebrate Colonial American Cooking: Cookbooks for Thanksgiving and Christmas

Want to celebrate American food history and ingenuity this year? The great state of Virginia gave birth to eight U.S. presidents --- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. And they all liked to eat, some more than others. In fact, Thomas Jefferson still…

Cooking Italian Food — Rooted in the Past

Note: For further reading on cooking, spirituality, and religion, check out my work-in-progress "Food, Spirituality, and Religion Bibliography," which right now tends to lean a bit more toward Christianity, but will eventually reflect more in-depth aspects of other religious traditions. I find the first-hand experience of cooking delicious Italian food to be one of my…

Turkey Talk and Stuff: A Gobble Ahead

"When the wine has stopped fermenting in November, the turkey is ready for roasting." --Italian Proverb-- The slight chill in the air lately conjures up dreams of fall nights replete with soup and crunching leaves underfoot and turkey dinners. Wild turkeys dart in and out of the bushes around the woods near my house. And…

Spice of History, or the Long Winding Road and Some Spice Blends for Today

"Variety's the spice of life, That gives it all its flavor." ~~William Cowper, English Poet~~ Picture narrow passages, in some exotic locale, thronged with humanity peering at bulging baskets of spices and herbs, heavily laden donkeys swaying along behind them. You're breathing the smoke-filled air, the smell of the smoke competing with the odor of…