Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen
A Culinary View of Lincoln's Life and Times
By Rae Katherine Eighmey
(Smithsonian Books, Hardcover, 9781588344557, 224pp.)
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
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Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen is a culinary biography unlike any before. The very assertion of the title--that Abraham Lincoln cooked--is fascinating and true. It's an insight into the everyday life of one of our nation's favorite and most esteemed presidents and a way to experience flavors and textures of the past. Eighmey solves riddles such as what type of barbecue could be served to thousands at political rallies when paper plates and napkins didn't exist, and what gingerbread recipe could have been Lincoln's childhood favorite when few families owned cookie cutters and he could carry the cookies in his pocket. Through Eighmey's eyes and culinary research and experiments--including sleuthing for Lincoln's grocery bills in Springfield ledgers and turning a backyard grill into a cast-iron stove--the foods that Lincoln enjoyed, cooked, or served are translated into modern recipes so that authentic meals and foods of 1820-1865 are possible for home cooks. Feel free to pull up a chair to Lincoln's table.
RAE KATHERINE EIGHMEY, an award-winning author and cook, dynamically interconnects food and history. She is the author of seven books including Soda Shop Salvation, Food Will Win the War, and A Prairie Kitchen. Eighmey's work and research brings the textures and flavors of the past to life and provides a fresh perspective on history. Her blog, What Lincoln Enjoyed Eating, and website, Rae'sKitchen.net, explore both the historic and contemporary culinary worlds. Eighmey has also won blue ribbons in the Minnesota and Iowa State Fair food competitions.
You've read about Abraham Lincoln in the history books, but what can cookbooks tell us about Honest Abe? Host Michel Martin speaks with Rae Katherin Eighmey, author of Abraham Lincoln In The Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln's Life and Times. More at NPR.org
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The answer to questions of whether or not President Abraham Lincoln cooked, and what he ate, are answered in this upbeat culinary study of the life and diet of our 16th President. Sifting through countless vintage cookbooks for research and inspiration, Eighmey (Soda Shop Salvation) offers 55 recipes tailored for the modern-day kitchen. Prioritizing taste and texture, she provides original solutions for obscured dishes (such as horminy) and substitute ingredients (baking soda achieves the same function as the oft-requested pearl ash in order to enable cakes to rise); enabling any reader to recreate these historic meals. Some recipes, such as pumpkin pie and strawberry ice cream are virtually unchanged, while others, like the many cakes popularized after Lincoln's death are a rather curious riffs on what we'd now call a spice cake. Readers may also be surprised at Lincoln's breadth of tastes and culinary experiences. Lincoln, who had a number of jobs prior to becoming President, enabled him to travel throughout the nation's midsection including New Orleans, which brought him in contact with a wide variety of people and their native cuisines. Academics of all stripes will appreciate Eighmey's diligence and insight. (Feb.)
Just when you think every aspect of Abraham Lincoln’s life has been exhausted, award-winning author Eighmey (Soda Shop Salvation; Food Will Win the War) stumbles across an anecdotal story of the president walking home to help cook dinner. Inspired, she examines Lincoln’s life with a culinary lens. Using Lincoln family documents, period newspapers, cookbooks, and other resources, Eighmey carefully paints a picture of the Lincoln family’s diet and customs. In addition to the thorough research used to re-create the president’s culinary world, Eighmey adapts 55 period recipes for today’s kitchen. While some foods (for instance, wild game, honey, and corn bread) are fairly obvious, others, such as New Orleans chicken curry, may come as a surprise. Lincoln may not have eaten all the dishes included here, but the author has successfully detailed the culinary world he moved in and thus given us a personal look at one of history’s greatest figures. VERDICT Food and history enthusiasts will enjoy this well-written and lighthearted peek at Lincoln.—Lisa Ennis, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham
“A fantastic new book, Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen by Rae Katherine Eighmey, sheds light on our 16th president’s culinary habits from his childhood through his time in office—and includes more than 50 period recipes that’ve been updated for a modern kitchen.”
“Eighmey's new book, Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln's Life and Times, looks at our 16th president's life through the extraordinary stories of what he ate, cooked and served, along with recipes modified for the modern kitchen.”
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE
“Throughout the narrative, she often puts herself in Lincoln’s XXL shoes. She gamely swings an 8-pound sledgehammer to whack hominy into pieces when her food processor can’t properly shatter the hard kernels to the authentic size. She schemes over roasting a turkey on an open hearth. She measures Lincoln’s 1860 Royal Oak cast-iron stove, then fashions iron plates from a camping supply store and wire racks into a makeshift oven of the same dimensions.”
AMERICAN FOOD ROOTS
“Eighmey has taken the scant recorded facts about Lincoln and food and spun an engaging story of what Lincoln’s culinary life might have been like. She presents the facts and grounds the speculation in solid research. And her delight with her subject is infectious. Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen is as much fun to read as it clearly was for the author to write.”
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
“From the gingerbread men of Lincoln’s pioneer childhood, to barbecue and biscuits on the campaign trail, to the elegant French cuisine of White House banquets, this unique taste of history will be enjoyed by foodie readers.”
“It’s the long interludes between the recipes that are interesting and make this a bona fide food biography and history.”
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“(Scholars have yet to unearth Lincoln's original notes for the Gettysburg Address: "Four s'mores and seven beers ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new ration ...")”
“Eighmey too, is a practiced storyteller, providing fresh insights and recipes for history buffs and curious cooks alike.”