Historian's Cookbook

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

The staple dish of the Middle East is as contested as the region, with different peoples claiming it as their own.

A child carrying a panettone in Milan, 20 December 1958.

Rich enough to appeal to lords and dukes, the success of panettone is down to its festive, egalitarian simplicity.

Advertisement for Marshall’s curry powder, 1899.

The long, often troubled relationship between Britain and India has led to some extraordinary cross-cultural innovations in cuisine.

Stock in trade: an advertisement for pot-au-feu beef cubes, illustration by Severo Pozzati (Sepo), 1957.

The story of the ‘mythical centre’ of French cuisine reflects the triumphs and tribulations of its people.