2014's Interesting Reads - Part 1

Call us nerds if you want, but the Historical Cooking Project would like to celebrate the beginning of a new year by remembering some of 2014's most interesting reads on the web and in our libraries.

Please feel free to suggest articles, books, or even recipes we forgot to mention! We're always on the look-out for new additions to our reading lists!

One of the biggest stories of the year in the United States was the shooting of Michael Brown and the death of Eric Garner, as well as the ensuing debates on race relations. The history of racial discrimination and racial stereotypes was also at the centre of some very interesting food history articles and blog posts. Jan Whitaker looked at eating-out in the context of the Civil Rights Act, Michael W. Twitty discussed vanilla ice cream in the Jim Crow South, and more recently, William Black published a great piece in The Atlantic titled "How Watermelons Became a Racist Trope"

These articles remind us how important it is to turn to history in order to understand the present climate and how essential a historian's contribution can be to finding the root of the issue at hand.
In this context, we found historian Ian Mosby's personal experience of having his research on nutritional experimentation in Aboriginal communities and residential schools in Canada enter the public debate fascinating. Although he discusses how social media made him an "accidental public historian", he also concludes :
(...) when our academic work finally gets published, it ceases to be ours. Its meaning is ultimately determined by our readers who give it life, give it meaning, and bring their own knowledge and experiences to it in ways that we could never have expected. In the case of my article, in particular, the media tried to make it into a certain kind of a story: a story about a distant past, one that we have moved beyond and left behind. The survivors, though, have made it into something else. It has become a confirmation of stories that they have long known to be true but that have been, for too long, dismissed or simply ignored by Canadians. (activehistory.ca)

This past year also marked 100 years since the beginning of World War I, and so 2014 had its fair share of articles and books regarding food and war. Marie-Michèle Doucet wrote a very interesting guest post for us, but she was far from being the only one drawn to the line "Food will win the war". It's also the title of Ian Mosby's study - Food Will Win the War: The Politics, Culture and Science of Food on Canada’s Home Front. (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014). As for online content, we also enjoyed Cynthia Bertelsen's post on rationing in WWII ("Four Chicken Legs and Two Eggs: Rationing, Cooking, and Eating During Wartime") as well as Tyler LeBlanc's "When Eating Local Won World War I".

We were happy to hear from one of our colleagues that due to this attention on food during the war, he would try to include cooking and recipes in his course on World War II in order to encourage discussions about the homefront. He isn't the only one including historical cooking in his classroom, The Recipes Projet had a great september series offering advise on using recipes with undergrads and schoolchildren.

But let's not think about the classroom just yet, even though the winter semester is already on many of our minds! Let's stop and take a minute to enjoy our New Year's celebration!

Going to a party or a potluck? Bring one of these American cult desserts like the pineapple upside down cake. If champagne is more your style, you may enjoy Rachel Laudan's post "Tiny bubbles: Where food met science, medicine, and religion".

As for January 1st, if you've had too much champagne, or if you set the roof on fire for the entire night (but hopefully not set your host's house aflame like the British did in 1814), you may need some comfort food.

You could try a Southern tradition like the Hoppin' John, or you could take a page out of your favourite book to inspire your first meal of the year. Would you rather start the year eating hot dogs like Ignatius Reilley or a feast fit for the Great Gatsby? Check out Dinah Fried's Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature's Most Memorable Meals (Harper Design, 2014)

Or, check out Gabriele Galimberti's In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World (Clarkson Potter, 2014) --- there's nothing like a grandmother's cooking, touching stories and great photography to help you bounce back!

Maybe you'll be craving Ramen noodles (with a side of international policy) and so, check out George Solt's The Untold History of Ramen: How Political Crisis in Japan Spawned a Global Food Craze. (University of California Press, 2014)

If all else fails, you could always try a medieval Russian hangover cure. If you're still feeling queasy, don't look at Buzzfeed's horrifying list of vintage holiday recipe advertisements. Hopefully, your stomach will settle in the first week of January and you'll be ready to enjoy a slice of this "intriguing Twelfth cake". (If you don't have much of a sweet tooth, at least indulge in Miss Foodwise's fabulous photos!)

We'll be posting the second part of this year end wrap-up on Thursday, but there's plenty of time to send us your feedback! We'd love to include your reading suggestions!