Great blog posting by a follower of ours here at What’s Cookin’. Like us, Lee is both entertaining and informative! And a foodie!
Also in the news, Syracuse University has just received a large donation of modern culinary books from a long-time collector. It’s nice to see more academic institutions helping document the history and role of food in our lives!
There’s a new issue of the Virginia Culinary Thymes newsletter! The newsletter is a product of the Peacock Harper Culinary Friends group and includes research articles, items of news and note, fiction and poetry about food, and highlights of books and manuscripts from Special Collections. The Winter 2011 issue, under the auspices of new editor, is available free online via the Special Collections Culinary History website. Back issues are available on the site, too! Be sure it check out the new format!
This week, let’s take a trip back in time! The oldest publication in the Culinary History Collection here at Virginia Tech is from 1692. It’s 24 pages of selected material, excerpted from a larger work. The title, you ask?
A Pocket-Companion, Containing Things Necessary to be Known by all that Values Their Health and Happiness: Being a Plain Way of Nature’s Own Prescribing, to Cure Most Diseases in Men, Women and Children, by Kitchen-Physick Only. To Which is Added, an Account of How a Man May Live Well and Plentifully for Two-Pence a Day/Collected from The Good Housewife Made a Doctor, by Tho. Tryon.
(Excuse me a moment, my fingers need a rest…) The text block is in a modern binding—you can see some of the marbled paper in the images above—but the original pages are chock full of “ſ” (long s) and “i”s replaced with “y”s.
Although the title says it all, basically, in 20 pages, we’re provided a selection of recipes—from sugar-candy to wine, to “sallads”—as well as brief nutrition information about these and a few other specific foods, how to eat/prepare them, and in what quantities one should consume them. The excerpt related to living on two-pence is a summary of how much food one can live on in a day, with a couple of household hints thrown in for good measure.
It’s worth noting that Thomas Tryon, the author of the larger work, wrote many books on a variety of topics during his life: nutrition and food, wine-making, how to find happiness in life, the treatment of slaves, and of course, the perils of alcohol and tobacco. All without a formal education! He was also a convert to vegetarianism, interested in both animal rights and conservation, and a hatter by trade.
In a recent episode of Sunday Morning on CBS, there was a short (6 minute) story about Jell-O, including its history, gelatin art, and new approaches to cooking with it (think Modernist Cuisine).
Although this week’s highlight is a little more modern in terms of its publication date, it is certainly historic in content. While digging around for something Thanksgiving-oriented, I was pleased to find this little gem. And of course, since two of the things I LOVE about working with the culinary history collection are old advertisements/ pamphlets and recipes—voilà! Enter Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie (2005). The first third of this book is all about the history of the holiday, including regional favorites, modern additions (can I interest you in turducken or tofurkey?), turkeys and presidental pardons, war-time changes, and everything in between.
The rest of the book, not surprising, is devoted to recipes: appetizers and salads (gelatin, of course!), turkeys (including alternatives like brining, marinading, stewing, and stuffing with rice & beans), sides, and desserts. There are a lot of great recipes and images in this book, but I stuck with a few standards: stuffing, cranberry sauce/relish, and perhaps only slightly-less-common, pecan pie. (Sorry, the pumpkin pie recipe didn’t have a picture!)
Whatever you’re eating this holiday, whether it’s turkey or tofu, stuffing or dressing, sweet potatoes or mashed, and pumpkin or pecan, have a little extra. It all tastes so good it’s hard to resist. C’mon, we won’t tell. Enjoy your food and company. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!
This Thanksgiving, two turkeys from Minnesota will travel to the White House to be pardoned by President Obama. The annual tradition began in 1947 when the Poultry and Egg National Board presented a live turkey to President Truman for the holiday. Earlier presentation birds did not fare as well as their modern day counterparts and were handed over for, ahem,dining, rather than pardoning.
This photo shows the Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation to President Nixon on November 18, 1969. As you might imagine, we’ve got a number of POTUS photos from previous turkey days in our holdings.