My wife and I were talking the other night, and we were wondering about how human beings figured out what food is edible and what isn't - what possessed folks to figure out if they ate this part of the fish, but not that part, then they wouldn't die, or if they could just get past the prickly parts of this plant, the innards were good? [more inside]
I heard a story on This American Life HERE and it's a story about a sausage maker who inadvertently ruins their product by getting a new building. IN the end, it turned out the problem was they had shortened the route of the final delivery of the sausages and removed what was thought to be the unimportant work of a clerk named Irving. I thought it was fascinating and I want to find other stories like that. Where would I look for them?
What strategies were used by peasants of medieval Europe to prepare for and survive the harsh winter months? [more inside]
So two books I really love are Heaven to Betsy and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love how they go into the details of the period they take place, particularly the fashion and food. It was also only recently I realised that they take place roughly around the same era. It really surprised me because they are so completely different to one another. Francie has an alcoholic father and the family can barely get food on the table; Betsy's biggest ordeal is falling in love with a boy that doesn't like her back and not studying for an essay contest. So my question is two-fold and is aimed at requesting book suggestions. [more inside]
What was Italian food like before the tomato? When coffee houses started popping up in Europe what establishments lost business as a result? Did Marco Polo really bring noodles to Europe from China? Where can I find the answer to all these questions and more? [more inside]
Was there ever a period in time before widespread acceptance of germ theory, or, is there a current culture where raw or undercooked chicken is an accepted part of cuisine? [more inside]
How and why did Europeans eat so many oysters during the dark and middle ages? [more inside]
I'd like to find out more information on a 1970's US food program. [more inside]
I always hear that the traditionally heavy US diet ( or any " traditional" cuisine, really ) was developed for people working long hard hours of manual labor, farm work, etc., so what did the people who had sedentary, less active jobs eat? What were the historical diets of people who didn't haul lumber through the woods or dig ditches, but recorded numbers or did accounting or translated documents?
What foodstuffs taste the same today as they did millenia ago? [more inside]
What are the best blogs, online periodicals, or discussion groups that address the history and consumption of food in an intelligent and critical way? (In other words, not just a place to swap recipes.) I would love to know where people find the most engaging ideas about food.
Do you know any examples of evocative food writing that is focused on how specific foods awaken the writer's memory or otherwise serve to connect time and history with what we eat? Think Proust's famous madeleine, or Nigel Slater's Toast: the Story of a Boy's Hunger. I am especially interested in accounts from non-white, non-American or non-European, and female authors.
Help me find this half-remembered anecdote from what I think was a collection of famous chefs or food writers discussing their ideal meals? [more inside]
When, why and where did people start putting crackers in their soup? [more inside]
I'm looking for a recommendation for dealing with the relationship between food and culture/society/history [more inside]
Where can I find a list of foods that originated in the United States? [more inside]
Why the long noodle? [more inside]
I want to a read a book about the domestication, Western discovery, spread and eventual assimilation of New World foods. I'm interested in how these crops were transported to and received by different cultures, and how certain New World foods became synonymous with particular Old World cuisines. [more inside]
Have you ever taken a culinary walking tour? Might you be willing to share highlights and details? I'm planning to develop some tasting tours for my city and would appreciate hearing about your own food tour experiences. [more inside]
Help us party like it's 1974! A friend is throwing a 1974 party (she was born in that year) and my partner and I would like to bring a gift to the party relevant to that year. We've already drawn up an extensive list of '74 references (see inside) but are really missing out on ideas for food and drink. [more inside]