Election-Day Menu: Food from Our Greatest Presidents

Hands down, my vote for the greatest presidents we've seen in this country goes to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. John Kennedy might have been a truly great president, but he died before he could prove his mettle, though his stand against the USSR during the Cuban Missile Crisis counts…

Looking for a Woman Chef: The 2005 Palace Revolt

In 2005, sparks flew in the White House kitchen. And the conflagration came not from the Crêpes Suzettes. No indeed. White House chef, Walter Scheib, formerly chef of the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, found himself in the same pickle that other French-trained chefs working at the White House experienced over the years. Scheib, who…

FICTION IN THE (WHITE HOUSE) KITCHEN

Food and fiction go together like ham and eggs. And especially food-based mysteries --- as the following authors so aptly show: Phyllis Richman, Susan Alpert, Miranda Bliss, Nancy Fairbanks, Ellen Hart, J. B. Stanley, and Diane Mott Davidson. Elliott Roosevelt, the son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, wrote a mystery with the title of The…

All the Presidents’ Tables: James Buchanan’s Inaugural Extravanganza

Named the worst of all U.S. presidents, James Buchanan --- ironically boasting the most government-related domestic and foreign experience of any president prior to taking office --- lived as a bachelor all his life. His niece (and ward) Harriet Lane became his White House hostess. She'd been with Buchanan in London when he served as…

World Food Crisis — One of the Next President’s Major Worries

The next president will have his hands full with many pressing problems, both here in the United States and abroad. One of those problems will, of course, be the financial disaster on Wall Street. Another will be plain, unvarnished world hunger. An article in The Washington Post pointed out the impact that the Wall Street…

All the Presidents’ Tables: President Benjamin Harrison’s Inaugural Ball Reception Menu: A Reflection of the “Gilded Age?”

The following menu, served at the inaugural ball of President Benjamin Harrison (in office 1889-1895), omits the news that 5,000 live terrapins waited in the wings to star in the show and game birds packed in lard did the same. Since 1200 people ate at this event, the number of turtles and birds loomed large.…

SWEETS FOR THE CANDIDATES

Now I've heard everything -- cookies as campaign material! (Caveat: I tried to find a McCain cookie on the site and didn't find one. If you do, please let me know --  I used the SEARCH just as I did for the Obama cookies, but nothing came up. In the original material I saw about…

BARACK OBAMA’S CHILI AND JOHN McCAIN’S RIBS

Barack Obama's reply to a reporter who asked him in March 2008 what was his favorite dish to take a potluck: Chili. He said that, "I've been using this chili recipe since college and would bring it to any potluck. I can't reveal all the secrets, but if you make it right, it's just got…

All the Presidents’ Tables: Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Menus

In the throes of the 2008 election campaign, I decided to do a little looking into what the candidates, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, eat when no one's watching. (Chili for Obama and ribs for McCain - hmmm, wonder if there's any Freudian, Jungian undertones there?) Such musings lead, naturally, to a perusal of…

GOULASH, BY GOSH!

A few weeks ago, while leafing through Lidia Bastianich's Lidia's Italy, I came across a recipe for goulash made in the manner of Trieste. I couldn't wait to get to my stove and start cooking. Now Trieste, which lies in the northeastern part of Italy, relishes a very diverse historical past. Under the rule of…

Hog and Hominy: Soul Food From Africa to America, by Frederick Douglass Opie

Several books on African-American cooking tempt me right now, all brilliant in their own way. See Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, & Power, by Psyche Williams-Forson; Savage Barbecue: Race, Culture, and the Invention of America's First Food, by Andrew Warnes; African American Foodways: Explorations of History and Culture, edited by Anne…

FOOD IN ART: Exploding Strawberries and Bursting Eggs

A whole new way of looking at food! Check out WebUrbanist and the article on high-speed photography. Many of the "subjects" are common, everyday foods that we eat without thinking of how they break down under the pressure of our jaws and knives. Amazing stuff ... (Caveat: I am not crazy about the use of…

Foodie Books About France

I recently submitted a list of fabulous food writing to  Peter Steinberg of Flashlight Worthy, a great original and innovative site. All readers, please go to Foodie Books About France at Peter's site and explore the rest of his site, which is terrific for booklovers and readers with all sorts of interests. © 2008 C.…

Cookbooks Facts

Some cool facts about recent cookbooks according to Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, taking place this weekend at the Frankfurt Book Fair, a truly international event: 1. In the last twelve years, over 5,000 publishers produced 200,000 cookbooks. 2. Self-published food writers and cookbook authors publish more and more new books, challenging the traditional publishers. 3.…

Okra’s Obstreperous Origins

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus, previously Hibiscus esculentus), that beveled beauty so beloved by Arab, Indian, Southern American, and West African cooks for its mucilaginous nature, originated in Ethiopia. From the Niger-Congo language family, the term "okra" derives from a Twi word, nkuruma, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). By the early 1800s, English speakers called…

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…

Hearthside Cooking

Hearthside Cooking: Early American Southern Cuisine Updated for Today's Hearth and Cookstove By Nancy Carter Crump Due out in November 2008,  the second edition of Nancy Carter Crump's Hearthside Cooking: Early American Southern Cuisine Updated for Today's Hearth and Cookstove looks like it will be one my "crowned princes," sitting on the small shelf in…

Food-Related Charities

With Christmas coming up (you can't miss it because the catalogs fill your mailbox nearly every day, don't they?), maybe it's time to reconsider buying all those gifts that nobody really wants. Bon Appetit magazine, in their November 2008 issue, lists five food-related charities that might be worth looking into for alternative gift-giving ideas: Brown…

Home Cooking, More Necessary Than Ever

When I got home from the grocery store the other day and turned on the computer to read my Google Reader news feeds, several "food-is-getting-expensive" articles popped up: Web wire with "Rising Food Prices---Gather Your Family Back Around The Dinner Table," about Martha's Vineyard restaurateur Carol McManus's new cookbook, Table Talk: Food. Family. Love. A…

Another Slice of Omnivore?

Recently, Andrew at "Very Good Taste" challenged the foodie blog world with a list of 101 things no true foodie couldn't NOT eat. So how about a new list? This time what counts is this:  How many do you know? Never mind if you ate them, that's not the point. What do you REALLY know…

A PASSAGE TO INDIA, REVISITED … SORT OF (AND BOOKSTORES)

For those lucky souls living in one of the larger cities of the eastern United States, bookshops purveying only cookbooks exist just around the corner. In Portland (Maine), Philadelphia, and New York City, to be exact. Who knows? You might find a copy of one of Elizabeth David's favorite books, a rather pompous Anglo-Indian cookbook…

Yin-Yang Beans

Yin-yang beans, also called Calypso or orca or black calypso beans (Phaseolus Vulgaris), resemble nothing more than the ancient Asian symbol of "yin-yang," even to the point (no pun intended) of the eternal black dot. The beans take 70-90 days to produce "fruit." According to gardening catalogs, these hyrbids grow to be fifteen inches high.…

Cookbooks for a Desert Island, or an Autumn Afternoon

[Note: Apologies to readers who tried to access The Forme of Cury online link yesterday---for some reason it was linked to something else! Anyway, the link is now correct and works, so if you want to see it, go to my post on The Forme of Cury. Thanks for reading!] Although Italian cuisine is all…

EARLIEST ENGLISH COOKBOOK, FORME OF CURY, TO BE DIGITIZED

Yippee! Another ancient cookbook to be digitized so that all of us food history lovers can wallow in the old texts without sneezing from the dust or going broke on airfare fees flying to check out archival material in some out-of-the-way library half-way across the world. The Guardian announced recently that the University of Manchester…

THE FUNGUS AMONG US

Mushrooms are not really food, but are relished to bully the stomach into further eating. ~~Seneca, Stoic Roman Statesman Toadstools, devil's work, fairies' rings, mysterious, deadly, the deeply superstitious people of medieval Europe applied all these monikers to mushrooms. Fungi they are, botanically. Everyone's culinary favorite, they are not. Their names invite punsters to unite:…

Pizza

Bet you thought that "pizza" as we know it just magically appeared in the United States one day. Or maybe that Americans invented pizza, not the Neapolitans. Nope. (Though in a way, Americans DID invent pizza, but we'll leave that controversial subject for another conversation.) Now, for the $64,000 question, "How in the world did…

LEAFING OUT: Cooking with Asian Leaves

A new (to me, anyway) cookbook always heralds further culinary adventures for armchair explorers. In Cooking with Asian Leaves, authors Devagi Sanmugam and Christopher Tan---both residents of Singapore---ladle out detailed information about 26 different leaves, many that rarely make it into mainstream American kitchens. Including scientific names, appearance, flavor, and culinary and medicinal uses, this…

Making Pizza Dough FAQs: A Slice of Pizza and History

Frances: Have you ever made a pizza? Claire: ... I suppose if I put my mind to it, yes, I could make one. ... Frances: What would make you feel uncertain abut making one? After all, you say you've made bread before and and you've made things similar to tomato sauce. Claire: The toppings perhaps,…

Italian Cooking in Paradise: A16 is A-1

As a cookbook junkie --- close to 200 of my 3500 cookbooks concern Italian cooking --- I drool when books like Nate Appleman's A16: Food + Wine show up. The cover alone is worth the $35.00 admission price, for the photo makes my soul cry out for the simplicity it represents. Not because anything's sad…

The Eggs Had It: Goodbye, “Cool Hand”

I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger? Paul Newman Paul Newman's death brought up many memories of his films. Since I am a "foodie," one scene in particular popped up in my mind. Yes, that gut-wrenching "meal" in "Cool-Hand Luke," when Luke (Paul Newman) stuffs himself with fifty hard-cooked eggs. Ouch. Thanks,…