Day 3: Chicken – 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 2: Oysters – Celebrate American Food History

Jonathan Swift once quipped, “It was a brave man who first ate an oyster.” And an even braver one who pried open the shell without special gloves and knives. Actually, it’s more likely that our hero (or heroine)  used a rock to smash into the mollusk. Oysters kept people alive in the early days of colonial North America,…

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,…

Nothing Fishy about It: England’s Iconic Fish and Chips

(Photo courtesy of E. Forrest) Britain’s national dish is no longer bloody roasted beef, but rather fish‑and‑chips: batter‑fried fish and French fries, that is. Without fish‑and‑chips, eaten by millions of Englishmen everyday, the British economy would probably plummet and the national health care service grapple with more heart patients, no doubt. But fish‑and‑chips must be…

The Mysteries of Mustard, with Thanks to the English

“The seede of Mustard pounded with vinegar is an excellent sauce, good to be eaten with any gross meates, either fish or flesh…“ – John Gerard, Herbal or General History of Plants, 1597 American ballpark mustard–that tart, yellow, unctuous friend of hamburgers and hot dogs–does not define prepared or “table” mustard. Oh no, indeed not….

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…