December 7, 2008

Rethinking Historic Cuisine?

"I don’t know why old recipes are so evocative, since many of the ingredients are unknown to me or difficult to get, the processes laborious beyond belief, and the results, quite honestly, often nothing I’d want to eat. But they read like a poetry of lost specifics, in which you learn old words and ways to boil, bone, braise, devil, hash, jelly, pot, roast, sauce, steam, stew, and stuff..."

Why bother deciphering a recipe over 150 years old?

You can take a collection of words and measurements written long ago, and turn it into a physical object. You can create something that looks, smells, and tastes just like it did hundreds of years ago. And that's the next best thing to time travel: it's a window to the past that lets you understand a little bit about another way of life.

This blog will focus on, but not be limited to, 18th and 19th century American cuisine. It's a lost world of rich foods, of mace and marjoram, of butter and cream. I first learned how to cook these recipes over a wood stove at my first job in high school. Later, they inspired my thesis, a restaurant reinterpreting historic cuisine for a contemporary audience. Now, I do it for the daily adventure.

Sometimes delicious, occasionally disastrous, this is a non-scholarly look at the history of food. Expect 1-2 posts a week of recipes, demos, photos and video.