‘American Enterprise’ Shapes the Way the World Eats

Want to talk to a farmer? Watch someone grind chocolate? Sample Georgia barbecue?

Head to the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has launched a new permanent exhibition celebrating American business. But sprinkled among innovations such as Thomas Edison’s stock ticker, the Laffer Curve napkin and a rack of computer servers used to create Google, American Enterprise” also features mundane kitchen items: a refrigerator; orange juice; a Velveeta box.

But what does chili con queso have to do with business?

“Food is central to American history,” says Susan Evans, program director for the museum’s American Food History Project. “When Americans see a problem or an issue, they innovate ...

Reviving the Tea Cake of Juneteenth Parties Past

Like all holidays worth celebrating, the African-American emancipation day known as Juneteenth centers on food.

“Watermelon and red soda water are the oldest traditional foods on Juneteenth,” says the Rev. Dr. Ronald Myers, head of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation. “And there’s always been soul food served. Fried chicken and barbecue and greens and black-eyed peas. I’m getting hungry! At any traditional Juneteenth dinner that’s what you’ll find.”

Juneteenth, which takes place each year on June 19th, celebrates the day in 1865 that the slaves of Texas learned they were free. Though President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the news didn’t take ...

Dates: The Sticky History of a Sweet Fruit

When Nawal Nasrallah was growing up in Iraq, the last three days of Ramadan were consumed with a singular activity: stuffing dates into rich buttery cookies called ma’amoul.

“We used to gorge ourselves on those cookies,” says Nasrallah, author of the Iraqi cookbook Delights from the Garden of Eden and a small volume on dates. She now lives in Salem, N.H. “I cannot think of Ramadan without dates and at the end having those delicious date cookies.”

Nasrallah is not alone. Dates are key to Ramadan, an annual month-long period of spiritual reflection that began this week. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, taking neither ...

Dentists Love to Hate These Ancient German Spice Cookies

What do cookies and cathedrals have in common? In Aachen, Germany, both are protected pieces of European heritage.

Aachen is a mid-sized metropolis in the westernmost prong of Germany best known as the seat of Charlemagne’s empire and the site of a UNESCO heritage cathedral that has witnessed the coronation of German kings going back to the 10th century. But perhaps equally famous – at least among food lovers – is the city’s signature confection, printen.

Aachener printen are spice cookies so hard that it’s said the bakers have a contract with the city’s dentists. Redolent of anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and other spices, a “printe” best reveals its Christmas-y punch when ...

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