Cooking Art History: Cooking American

hunger breeds madness

Cooking Art History: Cooking American

hunger breeds madness

This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on September 15, 2014.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden’s exhibit Your Country Calls! Posters of the First World War marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the war and includes vintage posters created to shape and influence national identity, many of which revolve around food. They are eerie and utterly fascinating. The exhibit will be on display though November 3rd. If you’re in Los Angeles, don’t miss it!

When the United States entered the war in April 1917, the war already three years in and food was desperately needed to supply America’s European allies. American civilians were urged to conserve food by increasing production, cutting waste and consuming foods that were plentifully available. Home cooks began substituting corn, oats or barley for wheat, molasses for sugar, and vegetable shortening for butter or lard. Peanut butter emerged as a protein substitute for meat. Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays were encouraged and many Americans had their first vegetarian meal.

President Woodrow Wilson placed food, fuel, iron and steel under government control as war material and, as head of the United States Food Administration, Herbert Hoover sponsored an educational campaign that encouraged American farmers with the slogan, “Food can win the war.” Pamphlets, posters and advertisements were produced to teach the rules of substitution and to convince Americans that eating less might improve their health. Canning, drying and preserving foods were skills treated as patriotic duties.

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Cooking Art History: Graff-EAT-i

Cooking Art History: Graff-EAT-i

This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on August 13, 2014.

It is rare that I get to develop a class around contemporary art and the opportunity to teach from ESMoA’s latest Experience, SCRATCH, is quite a treat. The show combines 16th through 18th century manuscripts from the Getty Research Institute’s (GRI) collection of rare books with art from some of LA’s finest graffiti and tattoo artists. Yes, street art on museum walls is as cool as it sounds, but combining it with Renaissance manuscripts is groundbreaking.

Serving as inspiration for the show is a Liber Amicorum or “Book of Friends”. Comparable to a high school yearbook or the posts on someone’s Facebook wall, the book is one of a series of popular books originally bound with blank leaves and filled with drawings and watercolors by friends. The Liber Amicorum in SCRATCH was owned by Nuremberg merchant Johann Heinrich Gruber, was compiled between 1602 and 1612 and is filled with illustrations by his highfalutin friends. To art collector Ed Sweeney and GRI rare books curator David Brafman, the book resembled the sketchbooks graffiti artists have their friends tag — black books with blank pages that serve as an exchange of memories and ideas.

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Cooking Art History: Sugar Baby

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Cooking Art History: Sugar Baby

2014-06-16-1brooklynstreetartkarawalkerjaimerojocreativetimedominosugar0514web131

This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on June 17, 2014.

Sugar. Talk of it is everywhere. It’s one of the leading causes of obesity and diabetes in our country. It is an ingredient so common to us that it is difficult to imagine a world without it.

The first reference to sugar in classical literature is attributed to Nearchos of Crete, one of Alexander the Great’s commanders, who in 327 BC reported “a reed in India brings forth honey without the help of bees” while sailing from the mouth of the Indus River to the Euphrates in modern Punjab. The 1st century Greek naturalist Dioscorides accurately described it as “a kind of solidified honey of a similar consistency to salt”. The idea that sugar was a kind of salt persisted well into the Middle Ages when it was occasionally referred to as “Indian salt.” READ MORE »

Cooking Art History: Dining With Matisse

Cooking Art History: Dining With Matisse

This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on May 16, 2014.

I’m beyond thrilled to head to my home state of Texas in July to teach a series of classes, Dining with Matisse, inspired by the special exhibition, Matisse: Life in Color, at the San Antonio Museum of Art. French food, art and culture are on my mind.

Matisse lived during France’s Belle Époque. Café culture was at its height, and cafés were where artists came together to exchange stories, discuss ground breaking artistic styles, and eat good food. This good food has a history.

It is said that table manners in Europe changed during the Renaissance when Catherine de Medici married Henry II and moved to France with her cooks. Her chefs de cuisine brought with them innovative recipes, fine tablecloths and introduced silverware, most notably, the fork. Until well into the 16th century, French cooking still had the strong flavors of Medieval Europe but by the 17th century, the French palate had grown more sophisticated and food a more integral part of court festivities. READ MORE »