Rock on! Geologist drinks 2.6 billion-year-old water
June 21st, 2013
01:15 PM ET
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If you discovered water that could be millions or billions of years old, would you taste it?

Barbara Sherwood Lollar does it all the time. She's a geologist in the department of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto, and collaborated with other researchers on analyzing water found in a Canadian mine in Timmins, Ontario. They published the findings in the journal Nature in May, showing that the water is between 1.5 and 2.6 billion years old.

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Filed under: Food History • Sip

December 10th, 2012
04:15 PM ET
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Ask Joe Henderson any question and odds are he’ll give you a very thorough answer. But ask him how to save one of the most endangered breeds in the world, the Randall Lineback, he’ll give you a very short retort: You have to eat it.

Henderson, a Washington, D.C. real estate executive and farmer, raises around 250 Randall Linebacks on the rolling hills of his Chapel Hill Farm in Berryville, VA. And what exactly is a Randall Lineback?

“Well, we don’t know what to call it,” says Henderson.

December 5th, 2012
12:00 PM ET
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At 5:31 p.m. Eastern, raise a glass to the decades that have elapsed since the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, officially ending 13 years of Prohibition and re-legalizing the production, purchase and consumption of alcohol in the United States.

“What America needs now is a drink,” quipped President Franklin D. Roosevelt when Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah ratified the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933.

Of course, numerous “speakeasies” - named because patrons often had to whisper a password through a locked door to gain admittance - sprung up in Prohibition’s wake. Police Commissioner Grover Whalen estimated that New York alone had over 32,000 speakeasies, and the neo-speakeasy fad persists in cocktail bars. (You can also drink in bars that were speakeasies in the ‘20s and ‘30s and that are still serving today.)

Other things arose out of Prohibition, including the real creativity with which determined drinkers evaded the law. Popular songs of the era just before Prohibition included “What’ll We Do On A Saturday Night (When The Town Goes Dry),” “Everybody Wants A Key To My Cellar” and even Irving Berlin’s “You Cannot Make Your Shimmy Shake On Tea.”

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Filed under: Cocktail Recipes • Culture • Food History • Food Holidays • Sip • Spirits

November 29th, 2012
07:00 PM ET
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Interested in trying terrapin? A handwritten recipe from the mid-1800s on how to stew those adorable aquatic turtles might just do the trick.

“Remember to remove the toe nails,” reads the weathered, barely legible recipe card.

The staff at the University of Iowa Libraries scanned and uploaded this recipe, along with thousands of others, from handwritten American and European cookbooks from the 1600s to the 1960s.

This is the latest effort by the University of Iowa Libraries to transcribe history through the power of the internet, and it’s a rare opportunity for both serious historians and food lovers alike to get a taste of bygone times.


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Filed under: Culture • Food History • Recipes • Retro

November 23rd, 2012
03:15 PM ET
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Have you ever considered the architecture of a coffee cup lid? Or the aerodynamics involved in a Pringles can? Did you know that microwaves were invented using technology developed during World War II?

We don’t often stop and think about the stories behind these items we see every day. A new exhibit at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, FOOD: Transforming the American Table, aims to illuminate America’s relationship with food by taking a look back at food history from 1950-2000.

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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Culture • Food History • Food Science • News • Nostalgia • Supermarkets

August 15th, 2012
12:15 PM ET
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Today would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday, and Eatocracy is celebrating her legacy.

The setting is so inviting that you're almost compelled to plop yourself down in a chair for a kitchen coffee klatsch.

Except you can't. Because it's behind glass.

Julia Child's kitchen is back at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History after seven months of renovations. For the 100th anniversary of her birth, the museum is temporarily unwrapping a new space dedicated to the beloved television chef, which includes the kitchen from her Cambridge, Massachusetts home.

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Filed under: Celebrity Chefs • Culture • Food History • Julia Child

Wife stealing, compulsive chewing and artisanal carving – the cool history of ice in America
August 10th, 2012
02:00 PM ET
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I have a problem. It's called pagophagia. I'm a compulsive ice eater.

While some people may crave chocolate and others can't function without coffee, my vice is ice. I'm not alone.

Recently, I was in the CNN cafeteria filling four (count 'em, four) 32-ounce cups chock full of ice (my morning ice run). A woman approached me and said, "Ah! Someone else who's crazy about ice!" She then pointed to a co-worker at the salad bar and said, "We meet up here each day to get our ice together."

Kumbaya! I had found more of my people, and we bonded over the ice machine.

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Filed under: Bars • Culture • Food History • Obsessions • Sip

Fire in the belly - evidence suggests early man may have cooked
April 2nd, 2012
03:15 PM ET
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You may be clueless about how to start a fire in the wilderness without matches or a lighter, but our ancestors may have figured it out long ago.

Scientists have uncovered evidence that humans used fire at least 1 million years ago, potentially for cooking purposes. The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Michael Chazon of the University of Toronto led an investigation into the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa. The team found burned bones and ash plant material, including grasses, leaves and twigs. The bones originated from a variety of animals: small rodents, antelopes and horselike mammals.

Read - Scientists find signs of ancient man-made fire

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Filed under: Culture • Food History • Food Science

Hoecakes and a little bit of presidential food history
February 20th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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Every move of the current President is documented in detail, but historians have to search through journal entries and letters to learn about the daily routines of our First President.

“We know that George Washington’s step-granddaughter, Nelly, wrote that George Washington’s favorite breakfast was hoecakes swimming in butter and honey,” said Melissa Wood of the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. The recipe is on display until August 2013 as part of the “Hoecakes & Hospitality: Cooking with Martha Washington” exhibit at the Mount Vernon museum.

In honor of George Washington’s 280th birthday, four Washington, D.C. chefs were invited to his Mount Vernon home to recreate the first President’s favorite breakfast. Each culinary team invoked its own twist as they cooked modern versions over open fire pits for guests who were touring the estate.

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Filed under: Baked Goods • Cooking • Culture • Food History • Make • Presidents Day • Recipes • Video • Vintage Cookbooks

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