Food and Foodways

The Politics of Pepper: Deciphering a Venetian-Mamluk Gift Exchange

At the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice, just a few feet from Piazza San Marco, where thousands of tourists come each day to pose for pictures and eat gelato, sits a manuscript—Codice Marciano It. XI, 66—containing an invaluable account of a crucial diplomatic mission to Egypt from the 16th century. I consulted this text, which holds the only surviving version of Giovanni Danese’s eyewitness report of Ambassador Benedetto Sanudo’s embassy to the sultan in 1503. Danese, Sanudo’s personal secretary, has left us a wealth of information on the materially based forms of diplomacy that helped maintain a stable relationship between Venetians and Mamluks in the early modern period.

The Aftertaste of Empire: Food and Decolonization

By Amanda Banacki Perry

“I’m not getting curry powder at all. Being a Brit, we eat a lot of curry, and I don’t taste it in this.” As I was watching Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship, this comment by Lorraine Pascale, one of the judges on the show, jumped out at me. Her comment, which drew on a legacy of presumed British culinary expertise concerning curry, carried a clear message: Brits know their curry.[1] And yet, the process by which curry became one of the most popular dishes in modern Britain is a complicated one of imperial appropriation, invention, and transformation.

How WWI History Changed My Views about Peanut Butter

I hate peanut butter. As a kid, I wouldn’t touch a PB‘n’J, PB & banana, or PB & anything sandwich. The legume spread had no redeeming traits, I thought, until historical research in American World War I cookbooks broadened my mind.

Food is central to the history of American involvement in World War I. The war disrupted Europeans’ ability to import, produce, and distribute food. Well before the United States entered the war in 1917, Americans were providing humanitarian assistance, including food aid, to European civilians, who would have gone hungry without assistance.

November 19, 2014