Food Facts & Lore, Monday Magazine

The Monday Mag – Oct 17, 2016

In This Edition Of Our Somewhat Weekly Magazine:

  • Why Do We Love Pizza so Much Anyway
  • Time Capsule: Food Trends of The First 10 Years of 20th Century
  • The Varnum Food Fare

Our Favorite Quote Of The Week ~ “A beauty lights the fading year.” – Phebe A. Holder


Why Do We Love Pizza so Much Anyway? ~ Kids love it, it’s fun, it’s delicious, it’s convenient… All of these are worthy reasons, but there must be more to it than this. Think about it. We are not in love with stuffed tomatoes as much as we are with pizza. One might argue that this is because stuffed tomatoes require utensils, but then what about pasta? We are in love with pasta, messy, tricky to eat pasta, are we not?

Of course, we could get lost in a chemical analyses of these comfort dishes: the carbs trigger “happy” hormones throughout the body and an invigorating sugar rush. Again, there is more to it than this.

Pizza puts us in a situation where we truly let go of all pretense and feel safe to be ourselves. By pretense we do not mean that we are all liars; we are referring instead to our innate tendency to put up a front, be it simply the efforts we make to appear proper, polite and neat. There is no pretense with pizza. We all jump in the same way, momentarily oblivious to stains on the front of our shirts, bite size, speaking with our mouths full… even laughing with our mouths full.

Pizza gives us the unique gift of freedom from self-doubt and self-restraint. We are on equal footing around a pizza.


Time Capsule: Food Trends of The First 10 Years of 20th Century ~ The very first years of the 1900’s were a veritable time capsule. The majority of Americans lived off the land, cultivating their own fruits and vegetables and hunting. The variety of fresh produce alone would be mesmerizing to us today. Commercial devices and commercially produced foods were not widespread, yet.

Things were not easy. Nature and seasons decided what would be on the table, but the 1900 to 1910 decade was probably the last vestige of the self-sufficient homestead as a widespread lifestyle.

The baking customs of the time are of special interest. Sweets became of staple of the American table more so than common breads. With this, new health concerns emerged, but also new, truly American culinary arts.

Of course, not all Americans lived off the land. Cities were already booming, with New York being a remarkable center for the culinary industry. City dwellers had gardens and restaurants at hand. In fact, the first pizzeria opened in New York in 1905.


The Varnum Food Fare ~ Bread & Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

It was breakfast time.
Father was eating his egg.
Mother was eating her egg.
Gloria was sitting in a high chair
and eating her egg too.
Frances was eating bread and jam.

If you surmise that the premise of this playfully illustrated tale is to pick at a picky eater, you are only partially right. Of course, the story gently explores the parent-child dynamics around nutrition and invites a fresh take on variety, but it also, unmistakably, honors individuality and one’s freedom to change at one’s own pace. The rendition is poetic, every phrase and word carefully selected and placed in the page like peas, perfectly aligned on the dish of a picky child. Eating is a form of poetry too, after all. In “Goodreads” reviews, adults confess to their love of this charming story growing up, and how they cannot put the book down to this day when reading it to their own child. Like favorite foods, this one clearly leaves a delicious lasting impression. Taste it for the first or hundredth time at The Varnum Memorial Library, or at your own local library.

Read the Goodreads reviews HERE.


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