Speakeasies, Sofas, and the History of Finger Foods

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Super Bowl Finger Food

Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner. For most football fans, that means covering the coffee table with a variety of miniature, caloric, tasty finger foods. This annual tradition was born of convenience; with a room full of people sitting on couches, it would be awkward to serve a multi-course meal. Finger foods, also known as canapés, are the perfect solution. They’re portable, easy to handle, and you don’t need a fork to enjoy them. They allow you to taste a large variety of foods in one sitting. As it happens, finger foods rose in popularity around the same time cocktail parties became fashionable. And, if you think about it, Super Bowl Sunday is sort of like a cocktail party… only instead of martinis and little black dresses, jerseys and beer rule the day.

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Discover the History of Chicken and Waffles

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

History of Chicken and Waffles

If you’ve ever tried the unlikely pairing of chicken and waffles, you understand the appeal. It’s a delectable union of sweet and salty, soft and crunchy, maple and… chicken? I realize it might sound strange to the uninitiated. As somebody who has repeatedly enjoyed this improbable creation, I must insist– don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Chicken and waffles are a dynamic culinary duo.

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Discover the History of the Sandwich

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Sandwich

You know you’ve got a favorite one. The one that makes your stomach growl just looking at it. The one that you’d like to sink your teeth into. Maybe it’s a hot pastrami on rye with spicy mustard, or perhaps a grilled cheese is more your style. Or maybe you can’t resist a French Dip with tender, juicy meat on a French roll… yeah, THAT one. Americans eat close to 200 sandwiches per year on average, so chances are you have a favorite of your own. Whatever sandwich happens to float your boat, the basic components are bound to be the same. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sandwich as “an item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with a filling between them, eaten as a light meal.” Seems like a simple enough concept. So, who came up with this innovative way of serving food? While I’m sure the Earl of Sandwich would like all the credit, the true history of the sandwich goes back much further.

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Eating and Drinking With Charles Dickens

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

The moment Scrooge’s hand was on the lock, a strange voice called him by his name, and bade him enter. He obeyed. It was his own room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation… Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam…

- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)

As a young girl, my library card was my best friend. I read piles and piles of fiction in junior high and high school. There was nothing I loved more than escaping to the past by burying my nose in a classic novel. Some of the books I remember most are the ones with tantalizing food imagery, with passages so colorful they made me salivate in their luscious detail. Of all the fiction I enjoyed growing up, no author captured the sensory experience of a holiday meal better than Charles Dickens. 

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What’s for Breakfast? Discover the History of Cereal

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

History of Cereal

If you were born in America, chances are you grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and eating breakfast cereal. I remember sitting in my PJ’s in front of the “boob tube,” digging into a bowl of crunchy goodness drenched in cold milk. I would stare sleepily at the word games and mazes on the back of the box, then dig for that cheap plastic prize inside. On television, cartoon spokespeople tempted me with their colorful, sugar-laden cereal treats. I begged my mom to buy them for me. She refused, pointing me toward the healthier varieties. I grew up eating Cheerios, Grape Nuts, and Rice Krispies while many of my peers enjoyed Cocoa Pebbles, Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops. Looking back, I am nothing but grateful for Mom’s diligence. That said, the targeted marketing of cereal companies was forever seared into my youthful mind. Cereal seems synonymous with being a kid, more like a sweet treat than a breakfast staple. Was it always this way? History tells us no. In fact, cereal started out very different than the colorful kid-friendly boxes we buy today.

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Thanksgiving, Lincoln and Pumpkin Pudding

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Pumpkin Pudding

 

Give thanks, all ye people, give thanks to the Lord,
Alleluias of freedom with joyful accord:
Let the East and the West, North and South roll along,
Sea, mountain and prairie, one thanksgiving song.

- from “The President’s Hymn” written by William Augustus Muhlenburg for President Abraham Lincoln, 1863

 

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, is celebrated for a great many achievements. The savior of our union, Lincoln guided our nation through the resolution of the Civil War. His leadership helped bring an end to slavery and peace to our war-torn nation. In addition to these historical achievements, few know that Lincoln also helped turn Thanksgiving into a nationally observed holiday.

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Cary Grant’s Oven-Barbecued Chicken

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Cary Grant Oven-Barbecued Chicken

Those of you who follow The History Kitchen regularly know I’m a “nerd” when it comes to food history. I’m also a big fan of the Silver Screen; I’m particularly fond of early Hollywood, silent pictures and cinematic classics. That’s why I was thrilled to stumble upon a rare vintage cookbook called What Actors Eat When They Eat! (Lymanhouse, 1939) This quirky book is a compilation of recipes and “favorite dishes” from some of the greatest stars of old Hollywood. The recipes were compiled and edited by Rex Lease and Kenneth Harlan, two actors who achieved most of their success in silent films. The forward is written by screenwriter Anita Loos, author of the famed comedic novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, on which the Marilyn Monroe film is based. Fittingly, the first line of the forward reads:

Gentlemen prefer girls who know how to cook, whether they be blonde, brunette, or titian.

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Halloween: A Foodie History

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

Halloween - A Foodie History

Halloween is one of the only holidays where we don’t gather around the dinner table for a big family meal. That said, Halloween involves many food traditions, some with ancient roots. Pumpkins are carved, kids bob for apples, and candy is consumed in massive quantities… lots and lots of candy. In fact, the amount of candy eaten on Halloween has long outnumbered the amount eaten at Christmas and Valentine’s Day. In 2011, $2.3 billion was spent on Halloween candy. That’s a lot of sugar!

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