History

History

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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How a Georgian Princess’s Cookbook Helped Build a Celebrated Restaurant

Struggling restaurateurs happened upon the feminist hero’s culinary manifesto at a flea market. A spread at Barbarestan. ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF BARBARESTAN IT’S NOT YET LUNCHTIME, BUT the tables at Barbarestan, in Tbilisi, Georgia, are rapidly filling up. There, a waiter leads me down a small spiral staircase to the bottom floor. Above my head …

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Nanaimo Bar

From postwar dessert to sweet slice of Canadian identity Nanaimo bars are dense, sugary bars of soft yellow custard, sandwiched between coconut-graham crust and chocolate ganache. They’re basically famous for being famous in their city of origin. Located on the eastern shore of Canada’s Vancouver Island, this misty port is home to fewer than 100,000 people, but more than …

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Why Is a ‘Pepper’ Different From ‘Pepper’? Blame Christopher Columbus

Black pepper and chili peppers have little in common. What defines a “pepper?” PUBLIC DOMAIN CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS HAD A PROBLEM. Less motivated by discovery than by opportunity, he had promised the riches of Asia to his patrons, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. Against all odds, he had sailed across the Atlantic and docked …

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Meet the ‘Citrus Archaeologist’ Who Rediscovered Dozens of Ancient Plants

Paolo Galeotti unearthed the citruses at Florence’s Villa di Castello gardens, which belonged to the Medicis. Galeotti and his plants. ALL IMAGES BY FEDERICO FORMICA IT’S THE SUMMER OF 1980. In a private garden, tucked away in the outskirts of Florence, Italy, Paolo Galeotti, a citrus expert, is giving botanic advice to a grower. The …

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Saint Agatha’s Breasts

This ricotta and marzipan pastry honours the Sicilian saint’s most noteworthy body part. What’s the first thing you think of when looking at these delectable pastries? Your mind isn’t in the gutter—it’s spot on. Nuns around the ancient port city of Catania, located on Sicily’s east coast, paid tribute to their patron saint by baking pastries …

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The renaissance of Northern Ireland’s forgotten ‘seafood’

For more than 1,000 years, a rare reddish-purple seaweed known as dulse has fed coastal communities in Northern Ireland. Now, it’s making waves as a trendy superfood. Hand-picked from the sea At 04:00 every morning between May and September, Stephen McAllister peers out the window of his bungalow along Northern Ireland’s craggy Antrim Coast, looks …

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