After posts on 19th century complaints about plagiarism and the evolution of recipe writing style, we finally get to the recipe that originally attracted me to William Kitchiner’s 1818 book, The Cook’s Oracle: Mock Tomata Sauce [sic]. When I first saw Mock Tomata Sauce on my screen, I had a few thoughts. First: ????. Next: I need […]
Old Restaurant Menus for Christmas, New Year’s Day, and a Gathering of Bankers
The Buttolph Collection of Menus at the New York Public Library shows what people were eating in restaurants decades ago through its collection of tens of thousands of menus, most from the early 20th century. Let’s take a look at three seasonal menus and a creative menu for bankers.
A Google Books Ngram of Pumpkin Pie Spice and Pumpkin Spice
We are at the edge of pumpkin and pumpkin spice season, with the peak still ahead of us, so I thought it would be fun to run three pumpkin terms through the Ngrams Viewer from Google Books: pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin spice. For those not familiar with the tool, The Ngrams Viewer tool […]
What is the First Movie to Mention Pizza?
In a scene in the 1953 film The Band Wagon, a cast member offers Fred Astaire “some pizza pie.” Could this be one of the first mentions of pizza in a Hollywood movie?
Before 1950, Celery Was an Extremely Popular Restaurant Menu Item
I don’t like celery, so it might have been a defense mechanism when I started noticing it on menu after menu from the late-19th and early-20th centuries. As I looked through the Buttolph Collection of Menus for food conservation messages on World War I-era menus, it seemed that nearly every menu included celery as a […]
Examining the Hangover Cure in the Western “El Dorado”: Was Asafoetida Known in the Old West?
For some forgotten reason, I recently watched the 1966 Western El Dorado. It’s one of the better Westerns I have seen, with more humor and a lot less racism than the typical Western (though there’s a short cringe-worthy stereotyping of a Chinese person near the end). The film has a top-notch cast and crew: the […]
Fish in Japanese Art: Hiroshige’s Woodblock Prints
One of my favorite genres of art is the 19th century Japanese landscape print, especially the works by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), who is best known as the creator of several series that showed famous scenes from Japan, like “53 Stations of the Tokaido” and “Famous Views of the 60-Odd Provinces.” The subjects of the prints […]
Moringa Leaves and Other Emergency Food Plants of Pacific Islands
Let’s start this post with a bit of fiction: It’s 1944, you’re a bomber pilot in the United States Navy, flying missions over Southeast Asia. It’s a dangerous job, but you’ve got a great crew: there’s Knute, a.k.a., “Swede”, the navigator, a quiet, big-hearted 18-year old blonde kid from northern Minnesota; Tony, the bombardier, a […]
Charting Mexican Restaurant Chains
This post was inspired by Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, by Gustavo Arellano (2012, Scribner), an ambitious and entertaining book that reviews the history of America’s love of Mexican food using profiles of business people, restaurateurs, cooks, and more (my 2017 review of Taco USA). Chain restaurants played a critical role in expanding […]
Which Country Grows the Most Avocados?
At the 2017 International Food Blogging Conference in Sacramento, one of the sponsors was Avocados from Chile, the avocado promotion agency from that nation. The logic behind their promotional efforts in California is sound: United States avocado growers can’t meet growing U.S. demand The California avocado harvest is typically between April and September Chile is […]