". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, February 17, 2014

Presidential Appetites

Today we celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Maybe we want to eat the cake that these great men ate.  If so, we can begin with Martha Washington's own cookbook:
In 1799, she presented the book to her granddaughter, Eleanor Parke Custis as a wedding gift when she married Lawrence Lewis. The cookbook was handed down from mother to daughter until 1892 when the Lewis family presented it to The Historical Society of Pennsylvania where it still resides today.

In 1940, the Society gave special permission to historian Marie Kimball to study the manuscript and prepare a cookbook entitled, "The Martha Washington Cook Book." Mrs. Kimball fully adapted Martha’s cookbook to practical, modern use. All the recipes were proportioned to our current practice of a formula for serving six people. Each recipe was tested. It is not only correct, but tastes great!
It was reprinted in a more limited edition in 2004
There are two recent Lincoln cookbooks I can recommend:

The earlier one (2008) is excellent: A. Lincoln Cookbook: A Cookbook of Epic Portions.  It features "over 600 recipes, photos of Lincoln dishes and utensils, and a CD of areas of the museum off limits to visitors."  This is the museum attached to the Springfield, Illinois Lincoln Pesidential Library and Museum.

Also of interest to historians of the era is Abraham Lincoln In The Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln's Life and Times (2014).  Among other things this one informs us how to serve barbeque at the political rallies of the day when there were neither paper plates nor paper napkins.

Just as I like reading works that describe the history of sheep raising, wool and the textile trade, I love historical studies of agriculture, gardening and cookery.

Happy Birthday, Mr Washington, Mr Lincoln!

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