As many of you know, I’m a bit of a history buff. And by a bit, I mean I’m obsessed. We can’t truly understand ourselves without first understanding where we came from. History gives us a window into our spiritual evolution throughout the centuries. It shows us the big picture—where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we might be headed. Examining our history gives us a fresh perspective… especially when it comes to food!
My interest in world history was encouraged and nurtured by my paternal grandparents, Clarence and Lois Avey. In a past blog I introduced you to my maternal grandma and her sister—Carolyn and Pauline—who passed down to me their love of cooking and family holiday traditions. My paternal grandparents shared very different gifts with me, gifts that shaped my worldview and made me who I am today.
Clarence and Lois were married for 73 years; they were soul mates in the truest sense of the word. They were more than grandparents to me; they were also two of my best friends throughout childhood. I had the privilege of spending lots of quality time with them as I grew up, and they had a major influence on me as I matured. They grew up in the midst of the Great Depression. Grandpa Clarence was born in the same year as Jean Harlow, Lucille Ball, Gypsy Rose Lee, Gene Harlow, Butterfly McQueen, Roy Rogers, Ronald Reagan, and my favorite playwright Tennessee Williams. Grandma Lois was born in the same year as Richard Nixon, Danny Kaye, Rosa Parks, Jimmy Hoffa, Etta Baker, Gerald Ford, Vivian Leigh, and Heddy Lamar. Grandma was an artist, pianist, and homemaker; she knew how to knit, sew, paint, garden, and scrapbook. Grandpa spent his retirement reading history books about ancient Rome, the Greeks, and European history. In their sunset years they traveled the world, seeing all of the places that Grandpa Clarence loved to read about. They even lived in Spain for a while. In the precious time I shared with them, they encouraged in me a love of travel, art, music, culture, learning… and history.
Grandma and Grandpa Avey passed away a few years ago—first my grandma, then my grandpa a few months later. Their death changed me in many ways. It opened my eyes to the fragility of life, reminding me how much I want to accomplish in the time I have left here. I felt a renewed sense of purpose. I began to research my ancestry to learn where exactly our family came from. I also re-immersed myself in the history that my grandpa adored, finding it a way to connect to him even after his passing.
I’m sharing all of this with you for a reason. This blog began as an exploration of Jewish food. Because of my love of Jewish culture and my newfound faith, my focus has always been on how Jewish cuisine has evolved throughout the centuries. And while I am still very much in love with Jewish food, my interest in food history extends far beyond the Jewish experience. Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to stretch my wings a bit and explore other parts of culinary history. I find myself pondering questions like…
Who wrote the world’s first cookbook?
When Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake,” what kind of cake was she talking about? (And did she really utter this famous food phrase?!)
Did Billy the Kid eat barbecue for breakfast?
What was the last meal served to Anne Boleyn, wife of England’s King Henry VIII?
I’ve already branched out a bit into Biblical food history, and I’ve received a positive response from many of you. It’s something that I am passionate about, and I’m ready to do more of it.
So here’s the deal. I will still be posting my weekly Jewish recipe and blog, just as I always have. In addition to that, I will also be posting periodic blogs about different food history topics. Often, I will include a recipe from the time period so you can “taste the history” yourself. This means more of what you enjoy—more recipes, more history, more food photography, and more good eating!
I hope you all enjoy this expansion of my blog. This has been an incredible journey so far, and it’s so great having you all along for the ride. Comment me and let me know what you think, and which periods of culinary history you are curious about. Let’s dive in and explore food history together!