THE GOURMAND AWARDS

Just a note - life's busy - to share the shortlist for The Gourmand Awards. "What is that," you might ask? Here's their take on it: "The Gourmand Awards are the major Food Culture event in the world. They started in 1995 for cookbooks and wine books, at Frankfurt Book Fair. They now include all…

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The Fallibility of Memory, or, The Fabulists among Us

Memory is a funny thing. By "funny," I'm not thinking Woody Allen amusing or Amy Schumer hilarious. No, by "funny" I mean something akin to "strange" or "perplexing" or even "otherworldly." And indeed memory can be perplexing, making it appear as the stuff of fabulists. Trying to remember what happened last week, much less 50 or…

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…

Peregrinations and Pilgrimages: Egeria and the Flour Soup

Rocks tumbled down the rugged sloping ground and dust spun like little tops as Egeria, a nun from early fourth-century Galicia, climbed toward the rocky summit of Mount Sinai. From that craggy point, she gazed at a world she defined by the holy sites mentioned in the Bible. And from there we saw beneath us…

From Mother Russia with Love: The Domostroi

Cabbage soup and gruel are our food. (Shchi da kasha, pishche nashe.) ~~Russian peasant proverb Trying to ferret out tidbits about Russian food history can be tough going. Aside from the language barrier, anyone interested in Russian culinary history suffers from a major weakness: there is a terrible lack of written material contemporaneous with Forme…

Why Study the History of Cookbooks, Or, The Art and the Mystery of Food*

Behind that glossy copy of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, the one that I wish I'd scored for Christmas, lies a long and fascinating history, filled with stories, mysteries, egos, and more intrigue than it’s possible to imagine. Cookbooks tell many tales, revealing secrets. In fact, just take a look at some of the titles of some…

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…

A New “Baby” in the House! Mushroom: A Global History, That Is

I just wanted to share with all of you an exciting moment: I just laid eyes on my new book - Mushroom: A Global History - and promptly burst into tears. I just couldn't keep a stiff upper lip when I saw the result of years of work on my part and on the part…

Cuisine & Empire: Cooking in World History, a Book You Simply Must Read

Today, I am happy to share something with you, a marvelous gift to the world of culinary history: Cuisine & Empire, by Rachel Laudan (University of California press, October 2013). I had the pleasure of reading some of the book while it was still in manuscript,* and that bit whetted my appetite so much that…

Mushrooms on My Mind, Naturally

It’s hard to imagine another form of earthly life that has affected human beings as much as the kingdom Fungi. Seeking the taste and perceived medicinal benefits of mushrooms,human beings followed a path from superstition to science: from foraging to farming, from medieval old wives’ tales to modern clinical trials, and from food eaten to…

The Grocery List: Color, Primates, and Food Selection

I always take a shopping list with me to the grocery store. But I rarely stick to it, because those marketing experts working for the big chains know just how to entice me into buying things not on my list. That’s probably why most people I see in the grocery store don’t shop with a…

Mushroom: A Global History – New book coming out

I am thrilled to announce that my new book about the culinary history of mushrooms is due out in September 2013. A sneak preview: Known as the meat of the vegetable world, mushrooms have their ardent supporters as well as their fierce detractors. Hobbits go crazy over them, while Diderot thought they should be “sent…

Foods for a Funeral and a Farewell

What to make of the lavish feasts that come after a funeral? When I attended my first funeral, at age 27, I cried a lot, even though I didn't know the  deceased, my sister-in-law's father. My grandparents all died before I turned 20 and lived 1250 miles away. Living as my family did on a…

* 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…

How to Tempt the Scrooges, or, Christmas, the Cooking Season

I love Christmas. Yes, I really do. For I see Christmas as a time that allows us - in these rather sterile, rigid United States, anyway - to cut loose and string up gaudy gee-gaws all over the house. To transcend the daily. To feel the seasonal and mythic cycles of past times. To celebrate…

Paris to the Past – Traveling Through French History by Train: A Book to Love and Cherish

“If you’ve even the slightest interest in France and her history, you will enjoy this highly innovative book. If you love France, and you’re a committed Francophile, you will swoon over Paris to the Past. As Ina Caro writes in her introduction to this delicious book, ‘I charted a route you could follow.’ And indeed she does.”…

Assimilating “The Other”

Leslie Page Moch, author of Moving Europeans: Migration in Western Europe Since 1650 (1992, Indiana U. Press), has written another book, Pariahs of Yesterday: Breton Migrants in Paris (Duke University Press, 2012). Her book promises insights into the process of integration, a very useful understanding of present-day migrants in France, people from France's former colonies:…

A Few Marrons Glacés for the Season … A Gift for You

Photo credit: Robyn Lee A while ago, I promised you a short list of facsimile/translated French cookbooks. The following list represents a number of old French-language cookbooks translated into English that you’ll find freely available on the Internet, something quite helpful when you’ve dropped your last holiday dollar on the fixings for Beef Wellington and…

Memoirs of a Breton Peasant: Sifting Through the Nostalgia

It’s not often that the words of poor peasants appear in print. And when they do, it’s a cause for rejoicing, especially for scholars pertaining to the Braudel/Certeau school of the history of daily life. What's more, our current nostalgic longings for a more paradisiacal past evaporate quickly in the light of these often ruthlessly real…

Modernist Cuisine: French-Influenced, Of Course (Hint: “Cuisine”)

Culinary History Has To Be Analyzed Like Art History ~~ Nathan Myhrvold "Modernist Cuisine is a six-volume, 2,438-page set that is des­tined to rein­vent cook­ing. The lav­ishly illus­trated books use thou­sands of orig­i­nal images to make the sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy clear and engaging." That tantailizing passage refers to the first edition of a book that costs as much…

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Me, Etc.

Dear readers of Gherkins & Tomatoes /Cornichons & Tomates, Soon I will embark on a great adventure, doing research on France's colonial empire at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Archives nationales d'outre mer in Aix-en-Provence, thanks to a grant from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Until I return, I will not have the…

The Cookbooks on Their Shelves: The First English-Language French Cookbooks in the United States, or, Who was Sulpice Barué?

Much has been made of Thomas Jefferson's influence on the “Frenchification” of cuisine in the young United States and in American diplomatic circles. Just take a look at "The French Touch," a chapter in Even Jones's American Food: The Gastronomic Story (1990) or Karen Hess's "Thomas Jefferson's Table: Evidence and Influences," in Dining at Monticello…

Auguste Escoffier: Le Guide Culinaire, Revised

New, revised version of Escoffier's premier work, unabridged fourth edition from 1921. In English, glory be. Translated from the 1921 Fourth Edition, this revision includes all-new Forewords by Heston Blumenthal, chef-owner of the Michelin three-star-rated Fat Duck restaurant, and Chef Tim Ryan, President of The Culinary Institute of America, along with Escoffier’s original Forewords, a…

Peregrinations and Pilgrimages: Egeria and the Flour Soup

Rocks tumbled down the rugged sloping ground and dust spun like little tops as Egeria, a nun from early fourth-century Galicia, climbed toward the rocky summit of Mount Sinai. From that craggy point, she gazed at a world she defined by the holy sites mentioned in the Bible. And from there we saw beneath us…

No More “Cookery”: New Library of Congress Subject Heading

Culinary researchers: The new, official Library of Congress subject heading for over 800 cooking and food-related subjects changed recently from "cookery" to "cooking." Here's the official document, "Cooking and Cookbooks H 1475."

From Mother Russia with Love: The Domostroi

Cabbage soup and gruel are our food. (Shchi da kasha, pishche nashe.) ~~Russian peasant proverb Trying to ferret out tidbits about Russian food history can be tough going. Aside from the language barrier, anyone interested in Russian culinary history suffers from a major weakness: there is a terrible lack of written material contemporaneous with Forme…

Lent, According to American Cookery, the Magazine, That is

Lent can be a really interesting time of the year. For some of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, a mere glimpse outside our windows forces the introspection and reflection behind the whole idea of Lent. Who wants to walk around out there in that howling wind and blowing snow? Better to stay inside and…

Food Studies: A How-To Guidebook, a Bit Underdone

Since one of my primary interests is methodology for studying food in history, when I learned that Berg Publishers recently came out with Food Studies: An Introduction to Research Methods (2009), you can imagine how quickly I got my hands on a copy of this book written by Jeff Miller, a sociologist, and Jonathan Deutsch,…

Jane Carson’s Colonial Virginia Cookery: Procedures, Equipment, and Ingredients in Colonial Cooking

Colonial Virginia Cookery: Procedures, Equipment, and Ingredients in Colonial Cooking, by Jane Carson (1968, reprinted 1985). Filled with the kind of details that come only from wallowing in primary sources, Jane Carson's synthesis of several cookbooks written by a number of seventeenth- and and eighteenth-century English cookery authors offers modern readers an interpretation of how…