Raise a glass to history.

Tag: Food & Cooking

The Stomach Rebellion

Have a drink at: Your College Dining Hall
Cabbage: now with extra protein!

Discuss: FOOD FIGHT

Today, a college’s dining hall is part of its overall outreach in the competition to attract students, and to keep them happy and achieving while they’re on campus. So much is put into the food and the architecture that travel magazines and college prep companies actually rank colleges by the quality and appeal of their food. This is a far cry from the college dining experience of the nineteenth century: in the summer of 1828, students at Yale College got so upset with their dining experience that they undertook a group protest that came to be known as the “Bread and Butter Rebellion” or the “Stomach Rebellion,” and it got so heated that the university president had to expel everybody to get them to cool the eff down.

You can see why a pasta station may be a better solution.

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Joseph Priestley

Have a drink with: Joseph Priestley
Chemist, radical theologian, likes bubbles.

Ask him about: favorite La Croix flavor?

Part of social life for well-to-do Europeans in the eighteenth century was to visit a spa town – someplace like Bath in England, or the town of Spa in Belgium – and “take the waters.” Not unlike a modern wellness retreat, at which you can sneak in some pool time or an Instagrammable view in addition to your yoga class or cleanse, these getaways generally rationalized a desire to rest up and relax with a regimen of health-focused activities centered on the various mineral springs. Not only did visitors bathe in springs and baths at popular wellness destinations, they also drank the water, which on account of its geothermal properties and mineral content was often sharply flavored and sometimes effervescent.

Put another way: seltzer may be super in right now, but don’t forget that it was the on-trend drink of summer 1767, too.

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William Banting

Have a drink with: William Banting
Keto, paleo, intermittent fasting? Nope: BANTING.

Ask him about: before and after pics

CARBS

When the Paleo diet became popular in the early oughts and the ketogenic diet more recently supplanted it as a nutritional craze, keen-eyed historians noticed something familiar about these diets’ recommendations to hork down all the meat you can get your mitts on, guilt-free: specifically, that it wasn’t especially new. Was this all that different, they wondered, from the low-carb, high-fat diet Dr. Robert Atkins had first published in 1972? Was this just a forty-some-odd-year-old diet fad in a new dress?

To which I say: of course not. It’s a HUNDRED-and-forty-some-odd-year-old diet fad in a new dress. I’m over at Narratively today with more about William Banting, the Victorian royal undertaker who, yes, popularized low-carb dieting.

Click over to Narratively for the full story.

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The Early Birds

Have a drink with: The Early Birds
There’s only one 10 o’clock in the day, and this ain’t it.

Yell along with them: Go the @%(# to sleep.

In the past week alone, major publications have promised that a good night’s sleep may be the key to successful business, effortless parenting, a better sex life and more enjoyable travel.

That’s all well and good until you consider that some 40% or more of Americans don’t sleep well, despite the assurances that if we deploy the right combination of baths, essential oils, soundproofing, early bedtime and smartphone avoidance, dreamy bliss will follow. So you can take your successful business, Mister-or-Ms. Fancy Journalist, and your perfectly-behaved child, and your one-night stand in Fiji, and get back to me when you have an article on the philosophical ramifications of Netflix asking you if you still exist when you wake up at 1:30 a.m. with no memory of having fallen asleep on the dog.

Despite the tossed-off surety that history cannot possibly understand us on this particular anxiety, let’s check in with one brave journalist from 1870 who was worn out enough to suggest: please, folks, please? Can we just start parties at 6 p.m. for a change, and hit the hay early?

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Walt Whitman’s Coffee Cake

Have a drink with: Walt Whitman
Contains multitudes; also coffee cake

Ask him about: Baking with pork fat

Walt Whitman is today remembered for a lot of things. He is the expansive, energetic chronicler of vibrant American life and spirit. He liked nude sunbathing. He grew one of history’s great beards. There was nothing he could not solve with a nice walk outside, musing: “Few know what virtue there is in the open air.”

He isn’t, though, remembered for his baking. And that’s a shame. The man made a mean coffee cake.

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The Republican Congressional Cook Book

Have a drink with: Your Friendly Postwar Congressional Republicans
Reducing sauces AND the national debt…

Ask them about: Recipes for your Labor Day cookout

GOPCookbook_MG_2669

In 1962, then-Congressman Gerald Ford lent his name to The Republican Congressional Cook Book, a collection of recipes and peppy political axe-grinding given to constituents.

“It is our hope that as you read this Cookbook and use its recipes,” the book begins, “you will enjoy cooking, which is one of the few things not yet regulated by the Federal government.” Ha!

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