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…

Why Do We Cook?

What does it mean to cook? Some – Harold McGee for example – would say that cooking means to prepare food by heating, while others, such as historian Rachel Laudan, extend the definition to include modes of preparation beyond heating. I tend to agree with the latter and not the former. So, with that sticking point…

Ladies of the Pen and the Cookpot: Isabella Beeton (Part II)

(Continued from August 23, 2010): Brillat-Savarin’s comments about the English being the worst cooks in the world drew a sniff from the proper Isabella, sure that her book would right that situation. In spite of the moralizing tone, and the plagiarism, BOHM became a runaway bestseller. Readers and critics considered the soup, fish, sauce chapters…

Ladies of the Pen and the Cookpot: Isabella Beeton (Part I)

Today in Britain, “Mrs. Beeton” is a culinary trademark not unlike “Betty Crocker,” whom General Mills created in a Frankensteinian moment to boost sales by appealing to Every Housewife.

The difference between the two ladies is that Mrs. Beeton was a real, breathing, living personage who wrote a monster of a book with a monster of a title: The Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort, BOHM for short.

Holy Mackerel!

Mackerel scales and mares’ tails Make lofty ships carry low sails. ‑Old Sailors’ Rain Warning‑ (Due to family obligations for a few weeks, I’m posting some previous posts that I’ve dusted off and updated. ) Alas, the poor mackerel!  A sky resembling its scales bodes rains. An unfriendly person is “cold as a mackerel”. “Dead…