Día de los Muertos (Todos Santos)/ Day of the Dead Food-Laden Altars

(Note: The italicized portion of the following article is an excerpt from something I wrote for an encyclopedia on the history of dining and entertaining, Entertaining from Ancient Rome to the Super Bowl, Greenwood Press, 2008.) In Mexico, the Día de los Muertos (Todos Santos) (Day of the Dead/All Saints’ Day) resembles the norteamericano Halloween…

Medieval England: Medicine as Food, Food as Medicine

Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food. ~Hippocrates Food and medicine, always intertwined in the human  imagination. Because – obviously – the earliest English settlers brought their food habits and medicinal beliefs with them to what is now the United States, I relish books that provide background to the English way…

A Baker’s Dozen of British Cookbooks for the Christmas Season – Book #13

Throughout history, cooking shows up again and again as primarily women’s work. As a reviewer of Richard Wrangham’s thought-provoking Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (2009) summarizes, “Here, too, Wrangham apologetically explains, is probably where the global subjugation of women began. Women, he observes, do most of the cooking in most societies (he describes…

A Baker’s Dozen of British Cookbooks for the Christmas Season – Book #11

Mary-Anne Boermans stood out as a finalist on the British TV program, “The Great British Bake-Off,” in 2011. Since then, she’s shot to the top of culinary success with her stellar Great British Bakes: Forgotten Treasures for Modern Bakers, the heart-warming (and stomach-stuffing) product of years of research. And she is the real deal, a person with…

A Baker’s Dozen of British Cookbooks for the Christmas Season – Book #8

There is, as you may have noticed, a huge gap time-wise between the first seven books on this list and the last six. That’s because there’s a time period where you see the beginning of the cult of the modern celebrity chef/cook, with a tremendous focus on innovations and experimentation in recipes and, well, celebrity. Television. Italian food….