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A beef and potato? Lincoln enjoyed bread and honey,
This review is from: Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln's Life and Times (Hardcover)
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Perfectly titled, Author and Food Historian Katherine Rae Eighmey writes a concise but detailed book Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln's Life and Times. Although it is not meant to be another biographical sketch of the most revered figures in American history, one may ask what inspired Eighmey to write another book about Lincoln that has not already been written before? She happened to be working on a project about the Jemison Family of Tuscaloosa, Alabama during the American Civil War and sifted through a few documents in the archives at the University of Alabama and came across Mrs. Priscilla Jemison's pencil-scrawled notebook and the rest led her to her own familial experiences and past relative to food and recipes. The subtitle clearly states the central focus of the book, the 55 recipes that may have been eaten from Lincoln's palate and but not necessary cooked by the man from Springfield, Illinois.
Eighmey takes readers on a journey to piece together history and biography and cultural studies to weave a narrative of time and place. Based on thorough research and a variety of sources from published sources, interviews of Lincoln's law partner and friend William Herndon, diaries and journals, and the book Lincoln Among His Friends, magazines of the day McClures, and government documents, Eighmey impeccably creates a vivid picture of Lincoln as a down to earth individual that enjoyed a good meal either at the White House or at his summer cottage to break bread with the soldiers. And Eighmey attempts to recreate and include similar or substitutes to prepare the recipes of the most delectable foods that hearken to the time periods in which they were prepared and may have been eaten by Lincoln during the antebellum and Civil War periods. From his humble upbringing in Indiana to brief stops in Mississippi and New Orleans to Illinois and eventually to Washington and the battlefields of Virginia, there is much that Eighmey discusses in the book that relates to the food of the nineteenth century. All of the 14 chapters are worth discussing but there were two that were quite interesting such as Chapter 2 "Lincoln's Gingerbread Men," that emphasized Lincoln's love for gingerbread and a one moment in Illinois that involved mention of gingerbread and then Judge Stephen Douglas and issues surrounding slavery; included at the end of the chapter are three recipes one for Gingerbread Men and the other two for Tennessee Cake and Vinegar Sauce. And one other chapter worth notating is "Journey of Discovery, New Orleans Curry and New Salem Biscuits," this chapter is particularly insightful and shows a young Lincoln coming up in the world of politics as a young representative of Illinois who briefly lived in the town of New Salem in the 1830s and the people that he met and dined with remembered him as a humble man; Eighmey takes a few anecdotes from the 1927 book Lincoln at New Salem to revisit this time in his life and where he also created a patent for the flatboat after problems arose at the New Salem milldam.
After reading Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen, most likely readers will attempt to bake and cook one or more of the recipes included in the book. But if one may not be a so-called foodie, the book is an enlightening historical narrative of another side of Lincoln and his times that history aficionados may not have realized about the man because of behind the façade of the tall, lanky, and intellectual figure, there is man with an appetite.
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Initial post: Mar 20, 2014 10:01:13 PM PDT
I've read all my life that this skinny, almost gaunt man was not at all interested in food. An egg and a cup of coffee for breakfast, and lunch was an apple or bread with jam when he even bothered to have lunch. One author even describes him sitting at table as a dinner guest of his sister-in-law...and forgetting to eat!
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