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RETHINKING HISTORIC CUISINE: a brief introduction to Four Pounds Flour

“I don’t know why old recipes are so evocative, since many of the ingredients are unknown to me or difficult to get, the processes laborious beyond belief, and the results, quite honestly, often nothing I’d want to eat. But they read like a poetry of lost specifics, in which you learn old words and ways to boil, bone, braise, devil, hash, jelly, pot, roast, sauce, steam, stew, and stuff…” (The Education of Oronte Churm)

Why bother deciphering a recipe over 150 years old?

You can take a collection of words and measurements written long ago, and turn it into a physical object. You can create something that looks, smells, and tastes just like it did hundreds of years in the past. And that’s the next best thing to time travel: it lets you understand a little bit about another way of life. When I recreate an historic recipe, I not only establish a connection to the past, but I rediscover long-forgotten flavors that inspire my contemporary cooking.

This blog will focus on, but not be limited to, 18th and 19th century American cuisine. It’s a lost world of rich foods, of mace and marjoram, of butter and cream. I first learned how to cook these recipes over a wood stove at my first job in high school. Later, they inspired my thesis, a restaurant reinterpreting historic cuisine for a contemporary audience. Now, I do it for the daily adventure.

Sometimes delicious, occasionally disastrous, this is a non-scholarly look at the history of food. Expect 2-3 posts a week of recipes, demos, photos and more.

Blog design by Bin Kinsley.  Illustrations by Peter Van Hyning.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Lohman is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, where she began working in a museum at the age of 16, cooking historic food over a wood-burning stove.  She graduated with a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2005 and for her undergraduate thesis she opened a temporary restaurant/installation that reinterpreted food of the Colonial era for a modern audience.

Lohman moved to New York in 2006 to work as Video Producer for New York Magazine’s food blog, Grub Street.  Currently, she works with museums and galleries around the city to create public programs focused on food, including institutions such as apexart gallery, The American Museum of Natural History, The New York Public Library, The Brooklyn Brainery, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 3rd Ward and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Dubbed an “historic gastronomist,” Lohman recreates historic recipes as a way to make a personal connection with the past. She chronicles her explorations in culinary history on her blog, FourPoundsFlour.com, and her work has been featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.  Currently, she is featured in NYC-TV’s mini-series Appetite City cooking culinary treats from New York’s past.

Contact her: sarah@fourpoundsflour.com

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