Happy Hogmanay!

Perplexed as to what to serve for New Year's Eve? Look no further than Scotland's Hogmanay - or New Year's Eve - celebration, rich in history (read more HERE), with just the right touch of ancient practices. Raucous, animal-skin dressed revelers call to mind Viking invaders of the 9th and 10th centuries, Hogmanay a substitute…

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High Society Dinners: Dining in Tsarist Russia, a Model of Culinary History Methodology and Translation

Many writers and researchers around the world now write prodigiously on the topic that engages all of us several times a day: food. And its history. It used to be that those of us interested in the history of food found the pickings pretty slim. Of course, there was Reay Tannahill’s Food in History (1973)…

Lent, According to American Cookery, the Magazine, That is

Lent can be a really interesting time of the year. For some of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, a mere glimpse outside our windows forces the introspection and reflection behind the whole idea of Lent. Who wants to walk around out there in that howling wind and blowing snow? Better to stay inside and…

Civil War Christmases

I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 100 and 50 guns and plenty of ammunition, also about 25,000 bales of cotton. Telegram from William Tecumseh Sherman to Abraham Lincoln, December 22, 1864 Many authors write about the austerity of American Christmas celebrations prior to the Civil War (1861…

Christmas Dinner at Mount Vernon, 1790

George Washington's Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon, served as the backdrop for many scrumptious dinners, cooked by Washington's slave cooks. Just reading this menu* makes my lips twitch and my fingers itch for my wooden spoons. Note that even at the relatively late date of 1790 and independence from England, there's a soup called King's Soup…

The Feat of Feasting

One cannot both feast and become rich. Ashanti Proverb “Feasting,” for all practical purposes, appears to be the antonym of “hunger.” And yet, feasting is rife (ripe?) with teeming contradictions and ritualistic conventions. For some, feasting implies hunger. Ambrose Bierce defined feasting in a rather limiting manner in his irreverent Devil’s Dictionary: FEAST, n. A…

The Chicken or the Egg? 1. The Egg and Art*

The egg it is where it was at for Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, who once said, rather egotistically (!), that "When I was three I wanted to be a cook. At the age of six I wanted to be Napoleon. Since then my ambition has increased all the time" The other day, thoughts of…

Boarding House Food in Lagos, Nigeria

In Africa, boarding houses enjoy a popularity resembling that of the nineteenth- and early-twentieth centuries in the USA, for the same reasons. More reasonable in cost than buying a house or living in an apartment, a boarding house also eliminates the need to worry about food preparation. Many students, such as those attending school in…

Bean Burners and Hash Rasslers: More Logging Camp Food

On a typical day in 1929, cooks at Ritter Company Camps of Dickenson County, Virginia , served the following menus to anywhere from 75 - 100 loggers: BREAKFAST: Cornflakes Oatmeal Stewed or fried apples Canned peaches Fried ham, pork chops, or beef steak, with country gravy Fried potatoes Biscuits Butter, jam, jelly, syrup Coffee, milk…

Diana Kennedy’s Menu for Charles, Prince of Wales

In 2002, Diana Kennedy, well-known author of Mexican cookbooks, served the following menu to the man who would be king, Charles, Prince of Wales:* Cocktails & Appetizers Tequila Apéritifs Fresh Tortillas Small Pumpkin Seeds Toasted and Ground with Roasted Habanero Chilies Guacamole Enhanced with Grapes and Pomegranate Seeds Meal Cream-of-Squash-Flower Soup Pork Loin Baked in…

At the Tables of the Monks: In the Beginning (Part II)

You’d never know a hermit started it all. St. Benedict of Norcia (ca. 480-547 A.D.), called the Father of Western Monasticism and the Patron of Europe, never intended to form a religious order. He just wanted to get away from it all, “all” in this case being Rome, where his noble Umbrian family sent him…