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  • Originally published 07/29/2013

    Five Hundred Years of Food in Theater and Movies

    Most of us go to the theater and the movies to see drama, action, sturdy heroes and despicable villains. Francine Segan goes for the food.Segan, a former school psychologist, is the author of six cookbooks, all connected to history, theater and opera and delivers talks on food and theater and movies around the country. I caught up with her recently at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in the Berkshires, where she gives a half dozen talks each year on food in the movies and theater (she will be there again August 12 to talk about food and Shakespearean England).Segan, a delightful speaker with an easy charm and a walking encyclopedia of dining, discovered food on stage and in film years ago when she was watching a Shakespeare play.“I was fascinated by all the eating that went on in the plays,” the thin, black-haired speaker said at the gorgeous old Mahaiwe theater. “I thought about other plays and realized the same thing. Then I thought about movies. In movies, there is even more eating. Everybody thinks like I do. We all get intrigued by all the eating on film.”

  • Originally published 07/10/2013

    William Lambers: The Food Law That Changed the World

    William Lambers partnered with the UN World Food Programme on the book Ending World Hunger. He is a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council. Lots of laws gets signed in Washington D.C., but how many have saved millions of lives as the one inked by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 10, 1954? It was called Public Law 480 and with a title like that you might just skip over it and read about something else. But this law has another name: Food for Peace. It was started because there was so much food in the United States, it made sense to avoid costly storage and move it overseas where there were hungry people. This meant food for flood victims in Austria, earthquake relief in Chile, and school meals for millions of children in war-torn Japan and Italy. South Korea's road to recovery from its own war also included millions of school meals for children. India received the largest Food for Peace shipment ever including a food reserve to protect against natural disasters. Food for Peace was a way to continue the amazing humanitarianism of the United States so demonstrated following World War I and II when we fought famine in dozens of countries. Food for Peace was a continuation of the the Marshall Plan which rebuilt Europe after World War II.

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Is haggis actually from England?

    A RENOWNED food historian has claimed haggis is an English dish, whose Scottish origins are as “made up” as tartan.Peter Brears, 68, said that many traditional tartans were “invented”, claiming that haggis and tartan were both appropriated by Scots in order to revitalise the country’s national identity.“Haggis is a really good English dish,” said Brears, the author of Traditional Food In Northumbria.“The earliest recipes are from 1390 from a book called The Forme of Cury, which means ‘the art of cooking’....

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    New book shows Tommies ate well in WWI trenches

    In the BBC series Blackadder Goes Forth, Baldrick memorably described the finest culinary delight available in the trenches of the First World War as “rat-au-van” – rat that had been run over by a van. In fact, new research suggests the standard of fare on offer to the men on the Western Front was, if perhaps repetitive, at least nutritious, plentiful and, on occasions, flavoursome.Andrew Robertshaw, curator at the Royal Logistic Corps Museum, has produced a guide to the food eaten by British soldiers of the First World War, complete with recipes for some of the meals.Although there was no rat-au-van, there were some now largely forgotten dishes, such as beef tea, mutton broth, brawn, potato pie and duff pudding.But Mr Robertshaw also shows how some modern favourites, such as egg and chips, and curry were popularised by the conflict.The research, contained in a new book Feeding Tommy, involved an investigation of the archives of the RLC – the successor to the Army Service Corps, whose job it was to feed the men – as well as study of memoirs from serving soldiers....

  • Originally published 05/02/2013

    Hitler’s food taster talks of Fuhrer's diet

    BERLIN — They were feasts of sublime asparagus — laced with fear. And for more than half a century, Margot Woelk kept her secret hidden from the world, even from her husband. Then, a few months after her 95th birthday, she revealed the truth about her wartime role: Adolf Hitler’s food taster.Woelk, then in her mid-twenties, spent two and a half years as one of 15 young women who sampled Hitler’s food to make sure it wasn’t poisoned before it was served to the Nazi leader in his “Wolf’s Lair,” the heavily guarded command center in what is now Poland, where he spent much of his time in the final years of World War II.“He was a vegetarian. He never ate any meat during the entire time I was there,” Woelk said of the Nazi leader. “And Hitler was so paranoid that the British would poison him — that’s why he had 15 girls taste the food before he ate it himself.”...

  • Originally published 03/29/2013

    William Lambers: Remember the Hungry This Easter

    William Lambers partnered with the UN World Food Programme on the book Ending World Hunger. He is a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.A survey by the National Retail Federation says Americans will spend about 17.2 billion dollars on Easter this year.Imagine if that spending could be changed, just even a little bit. If one billion of that amount went to global hunger relief it could fund humanitarian emergencies in war devastated Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Mali and other countries.At the time of Easter 1946 Americans cut back on festivities in order to help those suffering in countries leveled by World War II. While the hard fought war had been won, the peace had not. Hunger was enemy that remained. The U.S. Army in Austria, for instance, was helping provide school meals to hungry children.Americans listened to the plea of President Harry Truman around Easter when he warned, "we cannot ignore the cry of hungry children. Surely we will not turn our backs on the millions of human beings begging for just a crust of bread. The warm heart of America will respond to the greatest threat of mass starvation in the history of mankind."

  • Originally published 02/27/2013

    Maize key to rise of ancient Peru

    For years, archaeologists have debated the economic basis for the rise of civilization in the Andean region of Peru. The prevailing theory advanced the notion that the development and consumption of marine resources was the primary mover. Now, however, a team of research scientists have found evidence to dispel that theory....

  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Clues to prehistoric human exploration found in sweet potato genome

    Europeans raced across oceans and continents during the Age of Exploration in search of territory and riches. But when they reached the South Pacific, they found they had been beaten there by a more humble traveler: the sweet potato. Now, a new study suggests that the plant's genetics may be the key to unraveling another great age of exploration, one that predated European expansion by several hundred years and remains an anthropological enigma.Humans domesticated the sweet potato in the Peruvian highlands about 8000 years ago, and previous generations of scholars believed that Spanish and Portuguese explorers introduced the crop to Southeast Asia and the Pacific beginning in the 16th century. But in recent years, archaeologists and linguists have accumulated evidence supporting another hypothesis: Premodern Polynesian sailors navigated their sophisticated ships all the way to the west coast of South America and brought the sweet potato back home with them. The oldest carbonized sample of the crop found by archaeologists in the Pacific dates to about 1000 C.E.—nearly 500 years before Columbus's first voyage. What's more, the word for "sweet potato" in many Polynesian languages closely resembles the Quechua word for the plant....