Food in Books

Food is part of history and literature. Find how.

History and Literature

This food trivia section will feed your mind with odd facts and unusal anecdotes about food.

Cookbook Oddities

Have you ever found anything in a cookbook, be it a recipe or the cook's side comments, that made you laugh or was slightly disturbing?

Here is an example: My father was looking through my grandmother's church fund-raiser cookbook. It was printed in Washington state, in the late 1950's. Tucked in between a recipe for a simple meatloaf and so-and-so's famous grilled hamburgers was a recipe that called for 1 small brown dog.

Got kids? This might not seem odd -it is cute- but  found it in a cookbook from the late 1960's. It is another church fund-raiser, this one out of Oregon. The book is very straight laced, gives you only the facts. This little entry stood out because it doesn't fit with the rest.

How to bake a cake

Light oven; get out bowl, spoons and ingredients. Grease pan, crack nuts. Remove 18 blocks and 7 toy automobiles from kitchen table. Measure out two cups flour; remove Johnny's hands from flour and wash the flour off Johnny. Put flour, baking powder and salt in sifter. Get dust pan and brush up pieces of bowl that Johnny knocked off the table and onto the floor. Get another bowl. Answer doorbell. Return. Wash Johnny. Get out egg. Answer phone. Return. Take out greased pan. Remove 1/4 inch salt from pan. Look for Johnny. Return to kitchen and find Johnny; remove his hands from bowl; wash shortening, etc. off him. Take up greased pan and find 1/4 inch layer of nutshells in it. Head for Johnny, who flees, knocking bowl off table. Wash kitchen floor, wash table. Wash walls. Wash dishes. Call bakery. Lie down.

You bet it works: From “The Encyclopedia of Country Living”

Berry Leather

Puree your berries some way or another. Putting them in a blender works.

A Novel Recipe

I was wondering -and hopeful not to be the only one… Have you ever found a recipe in a novel that you ended up trying?

Hominy: I found one in one of the “Little House on the Prairie” books. It was for making hominy. Of course I was very young, and it didn’t turn out right. But I have heard of others that have found recipes in Novels, tried them and they were successful.

Home cooking: Maybe an idea to get more people to cook at home: The Harry Potter spell book, filled with magically recipes; Harlequin, recipes for seduction.

About odd names: Heartburrn by Nora Ephram has a lot of interesting recipes. And it is a very entertaining book too. Heartburn? Sounds scary. Will keep my eye out for that one.

Suspense and recipes: "Dark Tort" by Diane Mott Davidson. It is a suspense novel with recipes.

Royal food

Fit for Caesar: Roman emperors gave their name to one of their favorite delicacies, an edible mushroom known as Amanita Cesarea; it is delicious and it was very well appreciated, despite of the Empress Agrippina killing her husband, Claudio, by poisoning him with a dish of a similar variety, but of the lethal kind. Autumn is wild mushroom time.

Chocolate, aphrodisiac?: Cacao’s fame as an aphrodisiac stems from Bernal Diaz del Castillo writings, reporter to Hernan Cortes, who observed the Emperor Moctezuma turned more playful with the ladies after drinking chocolate.

Bits of food wisdom

A kind of peach: nectarines and doughnut peach are just varieties of peach, not another kind of fruit.

Peaches come from Asia: Peach seeds came first to us hidden in the pockets of a Chinese prisoner to Darius, the Persian king. Romans were very fond of this fruit Spanish hands brought to the Americas, now responsible for half of the production.

Raw diet: Beans and pulses usually need cooking, only peas are good to eat raw when they are young and tender.

Pak choi: This vegetable originated in Southern China, where it has been in the menu since the fifth century.

Red cabbage: The color of the cabbage changes with the acidity of the soil where it grows. An alkaline soil produces more bluish cabbages while an acidic soil will make the color more on the red side.

The best thing since sliced bread: do you wonder how this sentence came to be? We have to thank Iowa inventor Otto Rohwedder for producing a bread slicing machine in 1928. The first sliced loaf of bread went for sale in Chillicothe, Missouri. Sliced bread was a success, and still is. Having an extra slice is very easy when you don't need to cut it. Second advantage of the bread slicing machine was it produced even sized slices. Deli sandwiches are all the better thanks to machine sliced bread.