What is “The History Kitchen”?

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.

Visit The History Kitchen for even more fascinating posts from Tori.

What is The History Kitchen?

The History Kitchen is the culmination of a journey that started when I was a little girl. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandparents, Grandpa Clarence and Grandma Lois. Grandma and Grandpa did their best to enrich my days with art, music, film, and history. Their influence helped to shape my interest in all things cultural. Growing up, I was one of those nerdy kids who adored history; I read historical novels, watched period dramas, performed in Shakespearean festivals, and had a secret desire to live in another decade. When I taught myself how to cook, I became curious about the origins of the foods we eat. I began to collect vintage and antique cookbooks. My natural interest in all things historical led me to become a food sleuth. Each recipe proved to be a tantalizing mystery, and I made it my mission to dig up the roots and origins of every dish I cooked.

Visit The Shiksa in the Kitchen

Tori is also the author of the popular food blog, "The Shiksa."

In 2010 I started a food blog called The Shiksa in the Kitchen. Originally the focus of the blog was Jewish food—I’m a convert to Judaism, and my husband grew up in Israel–so I had a particular interest in the roots of Jewish cuisine. The site quickly gained fans from all over the globe. Readers especially enjoy the historical research behind my posts. While I love writing The Shiksa in the Kitchen, my inner food historian yearned to delve deeper into culinary anthropology and the roots of our food. Over time, my broader interest in history led me to create a website for exploring all facets of food history. The History Kitchen was born!

What can readers expect to see in this blog?

I expect to cover a very broad range of topics in The History Kitchen, from ancient Mesopotamian meals to Renaissance cooking to the cocktails of Mad Men, and everything in between! From the history of food items (ice cream, cereal, sushi) to dishes that famous historical figures ate, nothing is off limits. I am always open to suggestions from readers, too. If there is a particular time period, region, or food that you would like to see covered, comment on the blog and let me know!

Why are you drawn to this topic?

I feel that food and story are inextricably entwined. Everything we eat has a history. Every kitchen has a heritage, and every recipe has a writer. My interest in culinary anthropology comes from a desire to know how food shapes culture, and vice versa. Knowing the story behind the food– the ancient history, or the family history, or even the history of one particular ingredient– can infuse a dish with meaning. And then a meal becomes more than just food, or something that fills you up physically. Food takes on a deeper significance, and ultimately becomes more nourishing.

Why did you decide to team up with PBS?

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for PBS. I grew up watching Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers and Reading Rainbow. One of my earliest cooking memories is watching Yan Can Cook chop his stir fry vegetables with mind blowing speed. When PBS approached me for an interview for their Kitchen Careers feature back in 2011, I was thrilled. I talked with the editors about doing a feature for Hanukkah, and another for Rosh Hashanah. PBS is one of those rare networks that consistently provides high quality, culturally enriching content; being a part of that heritage makes my heart happy. When I began designing The History Kitchen website, I immediately thought of the PBS team. We’ve loved working together in the past, and it seemed like a natural fit. The rest, as they say, “is history”!

You can uncover more fascinating food history on Tori’s website: The History Kitchen.

Meet the Author

Tori Avey is a food writer, recipe developer, and the creator of ToriAvey.com. She explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Tori’s food writing and photography have appeared on the websites of CNN, Bon Appetit, Zabar’s, Williams-Sonoma, Yahoo Shine, LA Weekly and The Huffington Post. Follow Tori on Facebook: Tori Avey, Twitter: @toriavey, or Google+.