Ancient Mesopotamian Beet Broth

Time: ca. 1700-1600, BCE | Place: Babylonia (Southern Iraq) | Language: Akkadian (Old Babylonian dialect) | Author: unknown   We sometimes take it for granted that important things are written down, but the idea of what is important to document has changed over time. When the Sumerians invented the world’s first writing system—cuneiform—at the end of the fourth…

Looking for the Traces

Once upon a time, people in China started eating peanuts. Peanuts had previously been a New World food, grown exclusively in South America, but we know that they were grown near Shanghai as early as the 1570s.[1] How did these peanuts get there? Who were the men and women who started adding them to Chinese…

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Cookbook of al-Maghrib and Andalusia: “Cooled Chicken” (~1250)

Time: 13th century | Place: Andalusia (part of Spain near Seville) | Author: unknown Kitab al-Tabeekh fi ‘l-Maghrib wa ‘l-Andalus fi ‘Asr al-Muwahhidin (Cookbook of al-Maghrib and Andalusia in the era of Almohads)   We often see cookbooks that focus on one specific culture of food – Italian cuisine, Indian cooking, Persian food. Well, this medieval Andalusian cookbook incorporates a bunch…

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Eleanor Roosevelt’s Margarine Commercial (1959)

The former First Lady of the United States was featured in this 1959 margarine commercial. After years of anti-margarine campaigns in the US, “Good Luck Margarine” needed the boost of a celebrity. Although margarine had become very popular in the US as a cheap butter substitute from the end of the 1800s onwards, anti-margarine lobbies and butter producers tried…


New Year’s Feast, 19th Century, Japan

Orange, dried persimmons, herring-roe and different nuts: these were the foods used for the Celebration of the New Year in Japan. Yum! Read more about this woodblock print and its historical context at the Metropolitan Collection Online. Check out “related objects” for lots of other items on Japanese art & culture from the 19th century.

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