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Historian's Cookbook

On board a factory ship: gutting, cleaning and storing cod in the hold. Engraving from Encyclopedia of Natural History, Augsburg, 1804 © Bridgeman Images.

The Portuguese national dish with a global past of ingenuity and exploitation.

Jackson Street, San Francisco’s Chinatown, 1962 © Bridgeman Images

A dish which arrived with the Gold Rush, spread with the railway and endured prohibition was Chinese by origin, but claimed by America.

A scene of feasting, c.1594, Ottoman Empire © Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas/Bridgeman Images

A celebrated dish of the Ottoman Empire that spread far and wide.

Native Americans cook fish in an engraving from A brief and true Report of the New Found Land of Virginia by Thomas Harriot, 1590 © Bridgeman Images

A Native American method of tenderising meat goes global.

Cold meats: Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, by Édouard Manet, 1863 © Bridgeman Images

From high life to country living.

Enchiladas.

While finding its origins in royal Aztec feasts, the everyday Tex-Mex enchilada is more a product of colonialism and prejudice than authentic heritage.

Roadside stand at Boston Beach on Jamaica’s north-east coast.

Travelling the world with the diaspora, jerk is an artefact of Jamaica’s troubled colonial history and a powerful testament to the island’s centuries-long quest for freedom.

Victorian Easter simnel cake, 1893.

The evolution of an English Easter delicacy associated with mothers and Tudor pretenders.

Sushi.

The Japanese dish of humble origins that conquered the world. 

Though long established as the national dish of Hungary, its origins lie with the rootless, itinerant stockmen who roamed the plains of medieval Mitteleuropa