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Food History Articles and Links


Carrot Top

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What fantastic on-line resources those are, Janet! I think I love old menus even better than old cookbooks. It might be the business-like aspect of them that attracts me. And then of course one can imagine the entire meal as it unfolded. . .

I wonder if either one carries a heavier "weight" in terms of qualifying as "primary source" where that is demanded - old cookbooks or old menus.

(Edited to *try* to write English in a way that could be clearly understood. . . :laugh: )

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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  • 6 months later...

FYI: Stumbled upon the following from a source which may very well include other relevant, scanned texts: Foods that Will Win the War and How to Cook Them.

Sigh. Interesting that the date is 1918 and not decades later.

Fascinating in so many ways. Gives meaning to the use of the term "Home Economics" in schools and universities. I've only taken the time to glance through the beginning, but one of the first things that came to mind was the content of Omnivore's Dilemma when reading the list of items the US Food Administration asks American housekeepers (!) to save:

1) wheat--use more corn
A little lower down, substituting syrups for sugar is recommended.

Directly below that advice is the following:

food

_______________

1-buy it with thought

2-cook it with care

3-serve just enough

4-save what will keep

5-eat what will spoil

6-home-grown is best

___________________

don't waste it!

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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  • 13 years later...

I often come across interesting articles on food history. They don't usually merit a full topic to themselves, but it would be nice to share any that I've enjoyed. And find any others have enjoyed. So here we are.

Foie gras, truffles, birds drowned in brandy: a menu fit for Queen Victoria

 

A royal lunch served at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire forms part of an exhibition on its kitchen

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

"No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot"
Mark Twain

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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  • 1 month later...
Quote

Once, Americans rode the rails for charbroiled steak, golden French toast, and prunes.

 

Did they really?!

 

A Newly Digitized Menu Collection Shows Off America’s Lost Railroad Cuisine

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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22 hours ago, weinoo said:

Did they really?!

Are you kidding? They most certainly did. Railways all over the world offered and produced fine dining.

I don't know how true it is, but I read years ago that french fries, as we know them now, were first made in the kitchen car of a train.

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Possibly on this train?

 

image.png.1120fb2a36561a3094aff96599e693c4.png

 

(Don't believe everything you read). Like this:

Quote

 

In any event, historical accounts indicate that the Belgians were possibly frying up thin strips of potatoes as early as the late 17th century (though some claim it wasn’t until the late 18th century) in the Meuse Valley between Dinant and Liège, in Belgium.  How they supposedly came up with the idea was that, in this area, it was very common for the people to fry up small fish as a staple for their meals.  However, when the rivers froze up thick enough, it tended to make it somewhat difficult to get fish.  So instead of frying up fish in these times, they would cut up potatoes in long thin slices, and fry them up as they did the fish.

Giving some credence to this story is that the Spanish controlled much of what is now modern day Belgium at the time the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe.  So, at least, the Belgians probably were among the first to have a crack at the potato, in terms of thinking up ways to prepare food from potatoes

 

 

This (above) actually seems to be the consensus.

 

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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4 hours ago, weinoo said:

This (above) actually seems to be the consensus.

Yeah, you're right. It was just something that I read years ago.

Seriously though, dining cars were a big thing and one big item in the collectors Market nowadays is the dinnerware that was used on the trains.

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3 hours ago, Tropicalsenior said:

in the collectors Market nowadays is the dinnerware that was used on the trains.

 

We have friends who do nice dinner parties. Or who used to do nice dinner parties.  He always pulls out something that was used on trains at one time, as he collects that stuff. It's pretty cool, and if I had room...

The menus in the article are telling.  We got to dine once on a train overnight from Florida to Virginia - it was fun. The food...well, they tried.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

The food...well, they tried.

You are much too young to have lived through the elegant days of the dining car. Unfortunately they went the same way that the food went in the airplanes. Many eons ago, I worked for a company that did catering for the airlines and some of the meals that we put out were spectacular. There is just nothing spectacular nowadays about a bag of pretzels. The only time that I ever took a train ride that was long enough to take advantage of the dining car, I was much too poor to participate. By the way, that was when I was 18 and escaping from sauerkraut in Nebraska.

Edited by Tropicalsenior
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The Canadian Pacific Railway, in its heyday, was also renowned for its dining service. The company has an extensive archive, which includes menus and a great deal of other information about its glory days, but sadly the archive's public-facing website doesn't provide any of that (though it's still fascinating).

 

A few years back the University of British Columbia hosted an exhibition and presentation on the food of the old-days CPR, which is viewable on YouTube.

 

 

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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2 hours ago, chromedome said:

The Canadian Pacific Railway, in its heyday, was also renowned for its dining service. The company has an extensive archive, which includes menus and a great deal of other information about its glory days, but sadly the archive's public-facing website doesn't provide any of that (though it's still fascinating).

 

A few years back the University of British Columbia hosted an exhibition and presentation on the food of the old-days CPR, which is viewable on YouTube.

 

 

 

I can confirm that circa 1970 the Canadian Pacific cuisine was excellent.  Not bad wine list either.

 

 

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Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

Whatever you crave, there's a dumpling for you. -- Hsiao-Ching Chou

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This store is in our co-op owned commercial strip.  When we first moved down here, the bialys were hand rolled, stuffed with real onions, and good. Now, not so much.  

 

The Explosive History Of Kossar's, NYC's Most Famous Bialy Bakery

 

Prior to that piece, another hack blogger wrote about Kossar's...

 

Bialy Wars North vs. South

 

Twice...

 

Bacon, Bialys and Bulkas, Oh My

 

Feeling somewhat qualified, as I had any number of ancestors who were in the Bagel Baker's Union!

 

 

 

 

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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@weinoo. What great articles. Thank you. This is a food that probably few of us outside of the big cities have ever had a chance to try or even know about. @shain makes wonderful bialys and even has a recipe for them in the recipe forum.

Edited by Tropicalsenior
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  • 2 weeks later...

The Ancient Mesopotamian Tablet as Cookbook

 

Quote

Millennia before the Columbian Exchange brought potatoes, tomatoes, maize, and pepper from the New World, many of the Old World’s core food plants and animals were domesticated in the region of Upper Mesopotamia in what is today Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. This includes barley and wheat, sheep, goat, cow, and pig, which to this day account for more than half of all calories consumed by humans on the planet.

It is therefore not surprising that the oldest known culinary recipes also come from ancient Mesopotamia. These recipes can be found on a group of clay tablets kept in the Yale Babylonian Collection.

 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

"No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot"
Mark Twain

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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