Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Side Trip into Food History

Do you dream of baking a pudding in a cast iron pan or roasting a goose over hot coals? Do you see in your mind's eye a tall, white-frosted cake scattered with candied violets? So do I.

So have I, in fact, for many years. Long ago I wrote a master's thesis about cooking and eating habits among a group of people in Atlanta, Georgia. Historians give that branchlet of research the name "foodways", among other monikers. Back then it seems most of us relied on written resources to learn about what how people prepared food, how they ate it, and why.

Photo: screen capture of the Bites of Food History blog.

You can't eat paper, though, nor smell a dish through paper, nor know how your arms and hands feel when you have hefted a pot from coals, or tested the temperature of an unreliable gas oven, or kneaded a dough with your fingers.

So I am happy to see that food history has gone concrete and that historians, professional or amateur, are testing the foodways of days long past with their eyes and arms and fingers and tastebuds. Here are two blogs that I find particularly fun and useful. There are many more out there. Do you have favorites you would like to share?

Bites of Food History
Historian Susan McLellan Plaisted's experiments in cheesemaking, brining, baking, ice cream making, chocolate making from cacao seeds (yes, that's right), roasting on a string...

The Old Foodie
"Every weekday I give you a short story on a food history topic, always including a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu. And how much fun is that!
" From food writer Janet Clarkson.

Photo: screen capture of The Old Foodie blog.

Happy tasting!

3 comments:

Sarah said...

Thanks for that...I'll check out those sites :)

Sarah

Susan said...

Thank you so very much for your very kind comments and interest in my work in experimental archaeology of food! Please do me a kind favor and edit my family name as my father was "son of Lellan" and not "son of Clellan"

Thank you again!

Susan McLellan Plaisted

ZipZipInkspot said...

Dear Susan Plaisted McLellan,

Oops! My apologies for the mispelling and will correct it right away.

Thanks again,

Natalie