What’s the oldest recipe you know? Is it your grandmother's top-secret ingredients list for johnnycakes? Perhaps you collect cookbooks and can point to a delightful "fricassée of sheep trotters" in your prized 18th-century housewife manual. You might even know about the marvelous medieval cookery website and are tempted by its zervelats(sausages stuffed with bacon and cheese) or chardewardon (pear custard). Because of the written word, a preservative even more potent than pickle brine, we know what Julius Caesar ate for dinner 2000 years ago1 and a formula for cake bread that appears in the Bible2. But not all cultures have had writing, which [...]
I was indoctrinated into the cult of the Minnesota State Fair six years ago. At the time, it was sort of a goof with my then-girlfriend, now-wife: we were dating long distance between San Francisco and New York, so it was an excuse to meet halfway and in her hometown. Twelve hours, two orders of fried cheese curds, several Leinie’s and a live taping of "A Prairie Home Companion" later, I was hooked for good. I've only missed it twice since. (Once, for my wedding, and then last year, because my very-expectant wife was grounded.) Now, the Fair is as much of a Labor Day tradition to me as [...]
1. An Unknown Quantity of Pennies, 1986: My older sister and I are a year and a half apart. So the age at which she was ably walking on her own, I was in a hand-crank baby swing. As the story goes, my mom had stepped out of the room to answer the phone and returned to my sister feeding me from a jar of change in time with the swing—every time I came forward, she'd place another penny in my mouth. My mom didn't worry too much because, as she says, "You didn't jingle, so we assumed you'd be all right."
2. Liver, 1992: My mom did an [...]
As anyone educated by "The Flintstones" knows, one of prehistoric man’s favorite meals was barbecued mastodon ribs. Paleolithic cave paintings seem to support the claim (though whether the ribs were prepared with a dry rub or marinade is still a hot topic in archaeological journals). In fact, evidence suggests that early hunters found their way to the new world in the first place by chasing mammoth herds as they fanned across continents. So how did the cow, an ugly-looking milk monster from Vermont, become the utilitarian protein of the masses while the elephant, the mammoth’s lumbering grand-nephew, is only ever eaten in animal cracker form? The long answer [...]
If the three most important things about opening a new business are location, location, location, then the location that brought Philly Pinoy, a new Brooklyn restaurant, into being is the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, where a couple of cruise liners pick up and discharge passengers headed for the Caribbean or a trans-Atlantic passage. Sit at one of the tables arrayed on the sidewalk in front of Philly Pinoy, you can look down the street and see the ship in port. If it's the Queen Mary 2, she's hard to miss, as she is as big as a skyscraper lying on her side. Philly Pinoy is both out of place and [...]
There is a website, called The 1940s Experiment, whose proprietor, Carolyn Ekins, who was born and raised in the UK but now lives in Canada, is attempting to lose a hundred pounds by following a wartime rations diet, specifically made up of the foods eaten by the British public during World War II. For every pound she loses, Carolyn will recreate one authentic wartime recipe and post about it. She has already posted recipes for Mock Goose (made with lentils), Potato and Carrot Pancakes ("delicious") and an Eggless Fruit Cake (“looks curiously like meat loaf”), among many others. Carolyn has attempted—and succeeded at—this type of diet [...]
Don’t ask how we got this. It’s not important how we got this. But here’s how we got this: Despite his photographic-negative-with-sunglasses-on-the-back-of-his-head aesthetic, celebrity chef, startlingly discomfiting physical presence and “Minute To Win It” host Guy Fieri is, it turns out, an Awl reader. After Jeff Johnson and I discussed a speculative obesity-enhancement device known as a “sauce wash” in this Yakkin’ About Football chat, Fieri’s lawyers called us to see if we had patented the invention. Long story short, we’ve all now got plenty of those Quiznos's dollars to spend, and I blow the occasional weekend riding around in Guy’s classic Dodge Charger, watching him get gravy [...]