This is the elegant great-grandmother of what we would now call a lemon chess pie, delicately textured, elegantly flavored with rose water, wine, and brandy, set in a puff pastry shell, and thoroughly demanding of a baker. I’m going to give you a compromise that’s easier to make but still has a flavor that is out of this world. Or at least out of this century. Read on
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Eating our past
Research, reenactments, and recipes from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America.
A chef's sampler.
Researching 19th-century food I started with gingerbread. Why, is a long story. It’s winter, for one thing, so the kitchen garden was out. Some of the recipes and other bits and pieces will show up here. For the rest, wait for the book.
Morsels recently composed.
Today is the hundredth anniversary of Julia Child’s birth, and even Google is remembering her. (Although Google has a new home page every day anymore, so I’m not sure this is noteworthy.) What is there to say, really, that hasn’t already been said? When a few years ago I watched The French Chef on DVD, even after two decades of cooking almost every day and reading endless cookbooks I picked up a trick or two from nearly every episode. She was an effective teacher if one wanted to learn and an entertaining teacher even if one didn’t, and the instructional writing in her cookbooks is impeccable. Those aren’t compliments I give out lightly, and they ought to be enough of a commemoration.
In our hyperbolic culture, though, they’re barely noticeable. Witness Julia Moskin in the New York Times yesterday proclaiming the Apotheosis of Julia: Read on
One of the arguments I’m making in my book has to do with the movement in American baking from simple and unadorned to fancy and visually enticing, and how that shift went hand in hand with the decline of craft and home cooking. I find it useful sometimes to try to graph and diagram things, even (especially?) when they’re not obviously quantitative, but when you’re writing cultural history, where “data” is largely fictional, you can easily oversimplify what you’re trying to visualize. What follows is a useful way to think about craft and ornament in baking, but take it with a grain of salt. Read on
Intrigued by Thomas Jefferson’s calendar of the Washington city market (see the previous post) and liking the design, I decided to use it as a model for mapping produce available right here, right now. So with some help from Erin Kauffman, market manager for the Durham Farmers’ Market, I compiled a produce calendar for Durham, North Carolina, 2011. Read on
Friends, I have been derelict in my duty this week! I let George Washington’s birthday go by without passing on a delightful (ahem) recipe for Washington Pie and an accompanying nugget of invented history from the esteemed mid-twentieth-century food writer Clementine Paddleford. Read on