Monday, February 15, 2016

Not exactly a book review...

Most of you who've read my newsletter over the years know that I like to read cookbooks. I also like to share recipes. This month I'm going to share a hundred recipes.

Well, actually you're going to have to go get them for yourselves. But I promise it will be worth your while, if you like to know about food, about history, about what folks ate in the past.

The History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell is a fascinating read. Beginning in ancient Egypt (around 1900 B.C.), it tells the history of what people ate from then to the present. And it does it humorously, interestingly, and informatively--with recipes.

Did you know that Piggly-Wiggly invented supermarkets, way back in 1916? Or at least Clarence Saunders, the founder of the chain did. And that Oxo (bouillon) cubes were made popular by a marketing campaign to rival anything we've seen in this century. Peach melba was named after Nellie Melba, an actress (you probably knew that), but I'll bet you didn't know that melba toast was also named after her. 

One of my addictions is having a book about food to read while I eat. Living alone, I need something to occupy my mind at mealtimes, and if it's something to make me think, I tend to eat more slowly, and hence to eat less (a good thing, since I have to watch my weight carefully). Cookbooks and natural histories are my choice of non-fiction, although I confess that I read a lot of what my late husband used to call "mind-rot" too. It's not. Romance, SF, mystery, all have their places in contemporary literature and I make no apologies for anything I choose to read. But mostly I'm not tempted to share them with you. 

Mostly I'm not tempted to share anything I read, because my reading choices are sometimes, according to a good friend, peculiar. But this time I can't resist sharing The History of Food in 100 Recipes. It kept me occupied at breakfast, lunch and dinner for better than a week, because the chapters are short, and two or three can easily be read while one eats. Occasionally the recipes (as they originally appeared) tempt one to try them out, although I don't think I am going to try to make Kanasu Broth (which dates to around 1700 B.C.) or Fisherman's Chicken (dating from 1747, and not containing chicken) anytime soon.

Incidentally, the predecessor to Oxo and other bouillon products was portable soup, and its story is worth reading too.

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

C.S. Fuqua said...

The history of food is a delightful reflection of the history and culture of the people who consume it. Thanks much for the delightful article and the impetus to locate those recipes.