Tag Archives: history

In the Halls of the Ancients: The Imagined Washington, DC, of Franklin Webster Smith

At the turn of the twentieth century, he had a bold dream of making Washington a museum of world history. Egyptian temples, Assyrian palaces, and the Taj Mahal would complete a landscape out of Rome and Greece. His scheme attracted educators and socialites, senators and major newspapers. Then it all came crashing down.

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The Time the US Senate Debated Crabcakes

Senator Beall hurried back from the Senate dining room to the floor where the Democrats were filibustering. Beall, a Republican, tugged at Senator Hill’s sleeve. “Mr. President,” he thundered, “I rise to defend the fair name of the great Free State of Maryland against an insult.” The insult wasn’t the filibuster. The insult was lunch. 

Back When We Ate Roses

In Victorian America, flower-scented butters were all the rage with morning mocha and afternoon tea.

The Old Man and the Sea: My Great-Grandfather, from Latvia to Key West

The way I understand it, Key West, way back when – way back before the spring breakers and Girls Gone Wild, back before the pride parades, back before Jimmy Buffett and Margaritaville, back before the leather shops on Duval Street, back before the Conch Republic, back before Tennessee Williams, back even before Papa Hemingway and his […]

The Vulgar Pleasure of 1970s Food Photography

In a fascinating series of articles over at The Foodie Bugle, food photographer Helen Grace Ventura Thompson describes how food photography has changed over the decades. In the 1950s, she writes, “the pictures looked as though they were taken from the top of a ladder, six or eight feet away.” Beginning in the 1960s, higher-end […]

The Meaning of Fruits, or Tomatoes for Dessert

In the late nineteenth century, the Supreme Court decided the tomato was a vegetable, not a fruit, because it’s served with dinner not dessert. But why can’t we have our tomato cake and eat it too? The first tomato grew in South America. It was cultivated and taken to Central America where conquistadors took it […]