Poor Harry: Thanksgiving in the Truman White House 1946

President Harry S. Truman found himself on the slimming end of things in 1946. The New York Times reported that Truman’s menus seemed a bit austere and quoted White House housekeeper, Mrs. Mary E. Sharpe, as saying “When I make up menus I keep it in mind.” “It” being President’s Truman’s ongoing battle of the…

Day 5: Tomatoes – Celebrate American Food History

Tomatoes, poisonous or aphrodisiac? That was the question lurking in the pot for quite some time after the Spanish and the Portuguese began their voyages to the New World beginning around the late fifteenth century and likely introduced the tomato (and other New World foods) to Europe and Africa. John Gerard, a renown herbalist and…

The Dangers of Nostalgia at the Stove: A Critique of Modern Food Writing

Is nostalgia dangerous? More to the point, is nostalgia a dangerous weapon when held in the hands of some food writers? I’ll confess to a salient fact: I’ve written about food  through a thick lens of nostalgia, licking the pot of myth and stirring with the spoon of longing . I’ve cooked the iconic dishes of…

Boeuf (Beef) à la Mode: British Beef Made American

Cooking at the White House wasn’t always the glam job it is today. Thomas Jefferson’s French chef Honoré Julien – who’d cooked for George Washington, too – wanted to quit upon seeing the kitchen at the White House. And George Washington placed a want ad for a cook: ”A cook is wanted for the family of…

In Defence of English Cooking, Or, Orwell Revisited

George Orwell.* Remember him? Of course you do. Yes, think Animal Farm, Burmese Days, Shooting an Elephant. And, of course, 1984, which gave rise to the phrase “Orwellian world.” Orwell is actually enjoying a posthumous popularity, sixty-five years after his death in 1950, thanks in part to Edward Snowden and other factors. But, if you’re a food-obsessed…

The History and Present State of Food in Virginia

There was nary a cook among them. Nor a single woman, the usual gendered division of labor notwithstanding. No, in December 1606, the Virginia Company of London sent 104 men into the treacherous, wintry Atlantic, with stopovers in the Canary Islands and later Bermuda and the Caribbean. After a brief reconnaissance stop at Cape Henry, they made…