History

History

Pastry Coffins

This container was the progenitor of pie, and barely edible. Medieval Europeans Didn’t Have Tupperware, They Had Pastry Coffins EVEN ON HALLOWEEN, PRYING OPEN the lid of a stiff, sealed coffin would be considered a ghastly endeavor. But in Medieval Europe, sawing the top off a well-executed coffin revealed something delicious, rather than disgusting. A coffin, …

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Antwerp Chocolate Hands

Antwerp is the capital of chocolate, selling it in various shapes and flavors, ranging from little peeing boys (manneken pis) to more traditional shapes such as animals and happy faces. But one of the most popular shapes is a severed hand. As the myth behind Antwerpse handjes (Antwerp hands) goes, there once was a mighty giant called Druon …

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Human Bones Into Bread

IN THE DAYS LEADING UP to the French Revolution, Paris was starving. Consecutive years of poor harvests led to bread riots and widespread hunger. In response, Queen Marie-Antoinette purportedly said, “Well, if the people of Paris can’t afford bread, let them eat cake!” She didn’t say that. In French, the former queen is credited with …

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The Bedfordshire clanger

The Bedfordshire clanger was originally the food of farm labourers. A suet pudding with a meat filling, portable cold or eaten hot on returning home. … Like the good old days we make our clangers using the same ingredients with suet pastry and a combination of savoury and sweet fillings at either end of the clanger. You might nibble a …

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Medieval Egyptian Recipes

A newly translated cookbook provides a tantalizing glimpse of Cairo’s past. Behold! TREASURE TROVE OF BENEFITS AND VARIETY AT THE TABLE/BRILL THE MARKETS FOUND IN MEDIEVAL Egypt were spectacles to behold—or rather, to taste. From street vendors selling fried-pigeon snacks to streets lined with jars of foamy beer, descriptions of streets like Bayn al-Qaṣrayn can make one …

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A New Korean-Fusion Cuisine

Koryo Saram meal, photographed in Ushtobe, Kazakhstan. MICHAEL VINCE KIM/INSTITUTE In 2010 Dave Cook, a food writer with a talent for highlighting lesser known cuisine, endorsed a mom-and-pop cafe just off Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach boardwalk in the New York Times. By writing about the restaurant, which is known interchangeably as Eddie Fancy Food, Cafe At-Your-Mother-in-Law, or Y Tëщи, he …

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A 17th-Century ‘Barbarian’ Cookbook From Japan

Portuguese traders on a ship, taking tea. PUBLIC DOMAIN THESE DAYS, TREATS INCLUDING TEMPURA, konpeitō hard candy, and fluffy castella cake are available in restaurants, convenience stores, and bakeries across Japan. It might seem hard to believe that these dishes, especially fried tempura, were once curiosities even to the Japanese. Early recipes for these things and more were compiled in …

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The 10th-Century Baghdad Cookbook

The folio of al-Warrāq’s manuscript. COURTESY OF NAWAL NASRALLAH DURING THE MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC ERA, civil and religious leaders in Baghdad—known as caliphs—hosted legendary, opulent banquets within their courts. Communal dishes lined tables and drinks flowed freely. The caliphs peppered in entertainment throughout the meal as well, often asking revelers to sing praises about the food before them. …

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Medieval Egyptian Recipes

A newly translated cookbook provides a tantalizing glimpse of Cairo’s past. THE MARKETS FOUND IN MEDIEVAL Egypt were spectacles to behold—or rather, to taste. From street vendors selling fried-pigeon snacks to streets lined with jars of foamy beer, descriptions of streets like Bayn al-Qaṣrayn can make one salivate centuries later. Now, a newly translated cookbook offers …

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America’s ‘Tamale Wars’

FOOD TRENDS DON’T USUALLY INCITE extreme violence. But in early 20th-century America, the popularity of one recently arrived street food caused turf wars, which the media breathlessly sensationalized. That food, as it happened, was the humble tamale. At the time, the tamale quickly became as popular in America as the hot dog. As Gustavo Arellano writes …

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Japanese Navy Curry

Served alongside omelets or pork cutlets, or just on its own, thick, sweet curry is one of Japan’s most popular dishes. Introduced by British sailors in the 19th century, it quickly became a favorite aboard the ships of the Japanese Navy, creating the dish known as Japanese Navy curry. Curry had a number of benefits, …

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The RMS Olympic Dining Room

This restaurant was removed from the famed sister ship of the Titanic and placed within a hotel. The RMS Olympic was one of two sister ships—along with the HMHS Britannic—to the ill-fated RMS Titanic. She was the first of the three to launch in 1910 and soon went into service in the First World War, remaining in service until …

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Meyer lemons

Even if you know about his most famous discovery, chances are you don’t know anything about Frank N. Meyer. Most Americans don’t recognize the name Frank N. Meyer, but many are familiar with the fruit that bears his name. The Meyer lemon is a specialty-citrus sensation. Just ask Martha Stewart, who has more than 100 …

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Papal Gelatin Moulds

The competing papal and Napoleonic seals on the cookware tell the story of the battle between an emperor and a pope. During his eponymous wars, Napoleon invaded the Papal States, capturing Pope Pius VI and exiling him to France. Pope Pius VII, the second pontiff to suffer such an indignity, was forced to surrender his …

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Gladiator Diets

Gladiators fight in this mosaic from the Villa Borghese. PUBLIC DOMAIN WHAT EPITOMIZES THE IDEAL WESTERN male physique more than the Roman gladiator? Rippling with lean muscle, gladiators’ bodies represent corporeal perfection—or so films and television shows such as Gladiator and Spartacus would have us believe. In reality, what we know about gladiators’ diet and …

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