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…

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…

* 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…

The Potager of Thomas Jefferson: A Kitchen Garden in Photos

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, that amazing genius and inventor, and — according to the late food writer, Karen Hess — probably America’s first real gourmet. Any lover of books, art, architecture, wine, and food should dream of visiting this place at least once. [Note: It’s the only house declared a UNESCO World Heritage…

Thomas Jefferson and His Magic “Maccaroni” Machine

Thomas Jefferson, rightly or wrongly credited with first bringing pasta to the tables of Americans, drew a picture of  a pasta-making machine. This drawing, now in the Library of Congress, resulted from a trip to Italy taken by Jefferson in 1787. Don’t forget that “macaroni” served as a generic name for pasta and doesn’t necessarily…