Cookbooks in Context

Why the French and Americans use ‘entrée’ differently


When it comes to cooking, even Johnny Depp turns to the French .


For nearly two centuries, French has lorded over the culinary scene. We “sautee,” “julienne,” and “chiffonade” all in accordance with whatever rules the best French chefs codified into culinary technique at the turn of the last century. From “mise-en-place” to the 5 mother sauces every chef’s culinary training is filled to bursting with French culinary pedagogy. For nearly a century, French cuisine WAS haute cuisine.

The pervasiveness and prestige of French cuisine and culture took interesting shapes. In America, this meant that almost every menu presented, especially in more expensive restaurants, was littered with either French sayings or simply presented completely in French.After all, it was only to be expected that if you were dining at the Waldorf Astoria in 1899, you would speak French.

Waldorf-Astoria - 1899

This may seem like a stretch, but this is in fact a menu printed in America….

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Cookbooks, Cookbooks in Context

Content Marketing circa 1923: Dr. Oetker’s School Cookbook


There are many reasons to write a cookbook.

Perhaps, you are an aging 14th century Parisian compiling a housekeeping book to instruct your young wife on how to look after her lord, manage her newly-bestowed house and of course, prepare banquets.

Later during the 16th and 17th century say, you would probably be publishing as the chef to a nobleman or clergyman. This book would sell your own knowledge, raise acclaim for your benefactor and commit to posterity a record of the privileges of wealth.

Aspirational cooking has long been a part of how we cook.

Cookbook traditions follow cultural traditions. They move from medieval household manuals to renaissance instruction manuals. They develop over time from simple lists of ingredients to complex images of papal feasts with diagrams of the insides of kitchens and long lists of utensils (the first known picture of a fork, for example, only made its appearance find in a 16th century cookbook.)


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A feast for the ghosts past


I have spoken to you about the romance of both gray and deep blue seas, of fishermen that walk through my grandmother’s door. These are the tastes and sights that permeated my childhood and are easy to conjure up.

But there are some things I’ve left out.

I have never spoken to you of tropical flavors. Of the avocado and lime smoothies we drank every morning in Ethiopia. Of the many gifted guavas in my village in Namibia. Of the strange fruits and flowers that hang low and densely in utterly foreign lands.

I have never spoken to you about the colors.The green mangoes. Big bright red buckets. The street hawkers.

And the perfect chaos. Combis, taxis, cows, women with their colorful cloths as aprons and all that loud local music.

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Food Finds, Germany, Travels

Cafe Einstein: Reliving the past


Behind every Berlin building there seems to lie a hidden story.

I have lived in Berlin twice. At 21, I lived in Moabit, a former industrial area to which immigrants flocked during the industrial revolution and today in Schöneberg which, as one New York Times reporter called it, is  the Bürgerlich side of Berlin (in other words Bourgeois, not Eastern hip.)

And although many of my bike trips lead me to adventures in the East. I am a girl who has always lived in West Berlin. There is extreme appeal in East Berlin, the historic center, the artists and their house squats, and of course that endearingly soviet-vintage tower that soars above us no matter where we live in Berlin.


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How to not miss New England Fall in Berlin



No time do I miss Boston more than in the Fall. As the Berlin leaves change, it all floods back to me: Apple cider donuts, carved pumpkins, the beauty of the Boston Commons and how tightly I clung to that cup of piping hot coffee from the Thinking Cup just to keep myself warm. And all I can do is prevent myself from hopping on the first plane that will transport me to that world of dark red and golden leaves and those crisp walks and nights at the Goethe Institut.

All-in-all though, this is being unfair. Berlin Fall has incredible charms. So before the light runs away from me and the Christmas markets appear, here are seven things I will do in order to not miss American Fall.

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Germany, Timeless Recipes

Harvest Wine and the Taste of the Hearth


There is beer, so cold, so refreshing, and so easy to drink — especially on long summer nights along the Spree. And then there is wine. White in the summer. Red in the Fall and Winter, but mostly there is only red wine for me.

Red wine. At 24, off of a street corner in Les Halles in a restaurant where we ordered plate after plate of food from the Basque country, a Frenchman once told me that red wine was always preferred. White wine was for fish. No other time, he emphasized.

And with these brief words, my transition from white to red was complete, especially during the colder months.


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