Day 4: Celebrate American Food History

English novelist Charles Dickens once compared eating cornbread to eating a pincushion. In that disdainful sentiment, I see generations of English and other European people trying to adapt to this New World grain when their favorite grain – wheat – failed to thrive. Corn, or maize/Indian corn as it was called by the early settlers, originated –…

Day 3: Celebrate American Food History

On June 20, 2016, Jas. Townsend and Son posted a remarkable video on YouTube. Over 1 million people have since watched Mr. Townsend cooking fried chicken, based on a recipe from an English cookbook from 1736: Dictionarium Domesticum, by lexicographer Nathan Bailey.  Bailey’s greatest work appears to have been his Universal Etymological Dictionary, published in 1721….

Day 1: Celebrate American Food History

It’s soon to be a big, big day for Gherkins & Tomatoes – on July 28 G&T will celebrate eight (8) years (!) of writing about food and food history. Why, that’s 1,181 posts. Yes, there could – and should – have been more lots more, but we must take into account the time spent writing…

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…

A Tarte to prouoke courage either in man or Woman.

Thomas Dawson’s pie recipe (The Good Housewife’s Jewell, 1596) was meant to impart courage to a man or a woman, the sweet potato being considered an aphrodisiac at the time: A Tarte to prouoke courage either in man or Woman. TAKE a quart of good wine, and boyle therein two Burre rootes scraped cleane, two good Quinces,…

A Juneteenth Commentary: Edna Lewis and the Myths Behind Southern Cooking

Powered by the mythology that has grown up around Southern food over the last several years, many voices claim ownership, hurling harsh accusations of cultural appropriation, and silencing and shaming contrary opinions. The argument is not easy to prove, as it remains hampered by a lack of statistics, contemporary documentation, and clear evidence of outright…

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…