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 Legacy of a Typo: A Meditation on Tomato Gravy

Stirring the flour into bacon drippings, creating a blond roux, and sautéing finely chopped yellow onions in the mixture turned out to be quite an adventure. No, I didn’t burn myself – for once – on the lethal combination of hot fat and flour. No, in the seemingly simple and slow act of making tomato…

Thomas Jefferson: The Francophile Who Became the First U.S. “Foodie”

Thomas Jefferson. President. Scientist. Writer. Man of many passions, some hidden, some not. In his writings and in his actions, food clearly revealed itself as one of those passions. Above all, Jefferson was a Francophile. From the design of his dining room in his house, Monticello, to the gardens surrounding him in the foothills of the…

Not Your Mama’s Lettuce

I don’t know about you, but I grew up with the ‘berg in the fridge, with a jar of Hellman’s on the side. That was as green as it got (and still gets) in my mom’s kitchen. Iceberg lettuce. Crisp, colorless, flavorless. Usually just a tired limp leaf garnishing a shrimp cocktail or stuck haphazardly…

Honey, I’m Cooking!

As an infant, Zeus, the Greek god of gods, fed on milk and honey, or so the story goes. And in Exodus 3:8 (KJV), Moses states, “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and…

American Cookbooks: History 101 (II)

Continued from April 28, 2009: By the 1820s other cookbooks followed, The Virginia Housewife among them, written by Mary Randolph, a member of one of Virginia’s first families. These cookbooks were different from what we know today. They failed to mention of the size of the dishes used in baking, the number of portions the…