How Concentration Camp Prisoners Found Comfort in Imaginary Feasts

From Ravensbrück to Mao's Labor Camps, Inmates Recited Family Recipes to Preserve Their Humanity

When the Soviet Union sent Dmitri Likhachev to an offshore detention camp in February 1928, the Russian scholar was crammed onto a train car with other prisoners and handed a large cake. His five-year sentence without the benefit of a trial was a gift of the government. The cake came from the university library where he had worked before his arrest. It held no hacksaw to free him, but he would remember the goodbye present for seven decades.

Likhachev was not the only person who recalled gifts of food during detention. …

What Our Gargantuan Appetite for Meat Says About America

It Symbolizes Affluence and Social Status, Showcases Regional Differences, and Reveals Shifting Attitudes Toward Health

Americans have always been distinguished by their love of meat. Where does that love come from?

One short answer: our ethnic heritage. Among whites, the English and Germans were two of …

The Enslaved Chefs Who Invented Southern Hospitality

Black Cooks Created the Feasts that Gave the South Its Reputation for Gracious Living 

“We need to forget about this so we can heal,” said an elderly white woman, as she left my lecture on the history of enslaved cooks and their influence on …

How Hawai‘i Taught the World to Love Raw Seafood

Whether Served with a Beer in Honolulu, or Goji Berries in Dusseldorf, Poke is One of the Islands' Global Exports

Where did all this poke come from?

You may have asked yourself that as poke—the chopped raw fish salad—begins to appear everywhere, from Paris to Pennsylvania. The short answer is, …

The Cookbook That Declared America’s Culinary Independence

An 18th-Century Kitchen Guide Taught Americans How to Eat Simply but Sumptuously

American Cookery, published by the “orphan” Amelia Simmons in 1796, was the first cookbook by an American to be published in the United States. Its 47 pages (in the …

The Double Rise of an Iconic Cleveland Bakery

The Return of Hough’s Sweet Treats Adds a Dash of Magic to the City

Cleveland is all too famous for a depressing kind of magic: the place can make businesses disappear.

But there are stories of renewal here, too. In 1992, the bakery chain …