"history" news and stories
Cooksden has rounded up the Top Ten, from the outlandishly extravagant dinners of camel heel, flamingo tongue and pig liver fois gras served by Roman gourmande Marcus Gavius Apicius to the 86-pound sugar creations commissioned by the Earl of Leicester to (unsuccesfully) woo Queen Elizabeth I, to the 4,000-lobster banquet held last year at the opening of the ultra-luxe Dubai Atlantis hotel.
We may be eating cabbage casserole these days, but at least we can dream (though flamingo tongue is not high on my list of fantasy foods).
An essay in today's New York Times Magazine muses on the cookbooks of James Beard, the pioneering American chef and food writer.
There seem to have been two Beards, writes Aleksandra Crapanzano - the sophisticated gastrophile with a taste for sea urchin mousseline, who awakened mid century Americans to the pleasures of fresh, high-quality ingredients, and the shameless crowd-pleaser and businessman, writing recipes for tomato soup cake and signing countless endorsement deals for kitchen products.
A new edition of "Beard on Food" loses the bad Sloppy Joe recipes found in Beard's seminal "American Cookery," and is instead full of the exuberant eater's musings - tales dining of pheasants in Provence, a digression on the history of fondue in Switzerland, Crapanzano writes.
You create a stunning tablescape a la Sandra Lee in the dining room. You set out a well-stocked bar in the hallway between the dining room and the living room. You even put plates of delicious snacks on the coffee table in the living room. Your dinner party is out there, and yet...
Every one of your guests ends up standing around the kitchen while you are still waiting for the last course to come out of the oven, holding their plates, clutching their cocktails, having the time of their lives. In the kitchen.
Why? Why, unappreciative-of-all-your-entertaining-efforts guests, why?!?!
A book entitled The Warmest Room in the House might have the answer. It studies the evolution of the kitchen over decades through to the 20th century. The book is available from Amazon for $16.47.
I listened to several episodes, but there was one in there that I think that every food lover should check out. Originally aired in October 2007, this one is all about the invention of the Frito. It is fascinating because it consists almost entirely of interviews with the daughters of the man who innovated Fritos. He was something of a health food evangelist and was trying to create a side dish, not a snack/junk food. It is an interesting listen and made my wait in the airport far more interesting than it could have been.
This discovery shows that chili peppers were one of the oldest domesticated foods in the world. More research is planned to try and discover exactly how the people living in villages in Ecuador at that time used the chilies.