In order to bring you the Food knowledge and History section of this blog, I have had to become part food anthropologist, part researcher, and part historian. Not to mention a bit of a botanist to keep track of all the genus of plant life I am reading about.
It boils down to this: the world is only so big, there’s only so many plant foods humans can consume without being poisoned. However, at least in America, our palates were watered down, and left bland, until the Food Revolution of the late 1980’s through the mid-1990’s. Food was brought back to life by the discovery that cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice weren’t just for desserts. We found out there’s more grain than just wheat, and there is more fruit out there besides bananas and oranges.
I grew up on a typical bland American diet, devoid of flavoring except for the dried herbs in my mom’s cupboard. My dad, who got to travel once a year with the Air Force would bring back discovered foods from other places; coconuts, papaya, starfruit. And he would tell us about them, and show me how to eat them, or cook with them. I always got excited when he came home from these trips, it meant new foods.
The pursuit of understanding food, and where it came from stems from an underlying need to know. I spent years finding out about television. Why we make it, why we watch it. Now I am spending time learning about food, where it comes from, why we eat what we eat. I find myself traveling all over the internet just to bring you bits of information about different food, and different food products. And I’m reading books like Food Plants of the World: An Illustrated Guide just to find out more about the food we eat, or the food we ignore.
What is the role of food in other cuisines, countries? How did it get there. Why do we like some food, and not others? I’m reading books that attempt to discover the answers to some of these questions. And the knowledge I gain will be transferred here to this blog so that we can discover together what breadfruit or baobab is.
It is a time-consuming chore that I love to indulge in. Sleuthing around, looking for books or information that can be useful. Because, you know there are thousands of books out there about food. Cookbooks, food knowledge books, memoirs, and novels with food at the center. Which ones should you read, which ones actually bring the information together to inform and teach you about food and cooking? Hopefully the recommendations I find and make will help you make a better decision about what to cook, and what to eat.