The Messy History of Emily Dickinson’s Black Cake Recipe

IN THE DARK PANDEMIC DAYS of last December, 667 people gathered on a video call to celebrate Emily Dickinson’s birthday—and her black cake. Participants were invited to bake the recipe before the gathering, and many appeared on camera with their own rendition of the cake. The tradition had started five years before, when Emily Walhout, a … Continue reading The Messy History of Emily Dickinson’s Black Cake Recipe

This Writer is Tweeting Everything Sylvia Plath Ever Ate

LIKE MANY YOUNG, ASPIRING WRITERS, Rebecca Brill was obsessed with Sylvia Plath’s diaries. Their luminous, sensual, and often dramatic prose charts the ups and downs of Plath’s internal state with a serious attention that young women’s feelings rarely receive. So when the pandemic lockdown began in 2020, Brill, in the grip of a depression brought on … Continue reading This Writer is Tweeting Everything Sylvia Plath Ever Ate

The Museum Treating Home Cooking as Fine Art

LIKE MOST THINGS THIS YEAR, the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ Reclamation exhibition did not go as initially planned. Curator and director of public programs Melani N. Douglass wanted to treat kitchen labor—the often-invisible daily work that disproportionately falls on women and feminine people—as high art. She envisioned an exhibition centered around kitchen-like spaces physically installed at … Continue reading The Museum Treating Home Cooking as Fine Art

The Chef Recreating 18th-Century Recipes From a Thrift-Shop Find

LUCINDA GANDERTON HAD THE BOOK hidden in the bottom of her shopping trolley. Around two years ago, she had taken a trip from London to Brighton, England, to visit Paul Couchman, a food historian and chef whom she met on Instagram. Ganderton, a textile artist whose family had once owned an antiques auction house, and Couchman, … Continue reading The Chef Recreating 18th-Century Recipes From a Thrift-Shop Find

How to Recreate Your Lost Family Recipes, According to Historians and Chefs

Michael Twitty was leading a conversation on African diasporic food when the woman he was speaking to broke into tears. Twitty, a food writer, historian, and historical interpreter, had just explained that the word for “eat” in Wolof, a West African language, is nyam. The woman, a Massachusetts resident from an African-American and Puerto Rican family, had … Continue reading How to Recreate Your Lost Family Recipes, According to Historians and Chefs

A Database of 5,000 Historical Cookbooks Is Now Online, and You Can Help Improve It

IN THE EARLY 1960S, JULIA Child and her husband handed Barbara Ketcham Wheaton the keys to their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The famous couple was going to California for the summer, but they wanted their young neighbor to be able to continue one of her favorite activities: perusing Child’s collection of historical cookbooks. Now an honorary … Continue reading A Database of 5,000 Historical Cookbooks Is Now Online, and You Can Help Improve It

Cracking the Case of South India’s Missing Vegetables

AKASH MURALIDHARAN’S QUEST TO FIND forgotten South Indian vegetables began when he cleaned out his bedroom. It was January 2020, and he had just returned to his home city of Chennai after finishing his master’s degree in Food Design and Innovation in Milan. Like many students returning home after graduation, Muralidharan found that his childhood bedroom … Continue reading Cracking the Case of South India’s Missing Vegetables

400 Years After Its First Apple Farm, Boston Remains an Urban Orchard

JOHN BUNKER NORMALLY SEARCHES FOR heirloom apple trees in the fields and forests of rural Maine, but on a trip to Boston, he stumbled upon one in an unexpected place: an ice-cream-parlor parking lot. An expert on American heirloom apples, particularly those of Maine, Bunker has been investigating, preserving, and growing nearly forgotten apple cultivars since … Continue reading 400 Years After Its First Apple Farm, Boston Remains an Urban Orchard