23 episodes

Welcome to the comfortably hungry podcast where yesterday’s dinner is tomorrow’s history. If you’re a peckish person who is curious about the history of food and drink, then you’re in the right place. I’m Sam Bilton a food historian, writer and cook and each season I will be joined by some hungry guests to discuss a variety topics centred around a specific theme. As a former supper club host I’m always intrigued to know what people like to eat. So to whet everyone’s appetites I have invited my guests to contribute a virtual dish with them inspired by today’s topic.

comfortablyhungry.substack.com

Comfortably Hungry Sam Bilton

    • History
    • 5.0 • 7 Ratings

Welcome to the comfortably hungry podcast where yesterday’s dinner is tomorrow’s history. If you’re a peckish person who is curious about the history of food and drink, then you’re in the right place. I’m Sam Bilton a food historian, writer and cook and each season I will be joined by some hungry guests to discuss a variety topics centred around a specific theme. As a former supper club host I’m always intrigued to know what people like to eat. So to whet everyone’s appetites I have invited my guests to contribute a virtual dish with them inspired by today’s topic.

comfortablyhungry.substack.com

    S2 Episode 8: A Chocolate Horror Story

    S2 Episode 8: A Chocolate Horror Story

    Roald Dahl’s second children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory celebrates its 60th birthday this year. In this episode I’m joined by Dr Alessandra Pino and Vanessa Baca from the Fear Feasts Podcast . We’re delving into the wicked side of chocolate and how this is represented in Dahl’s book and its movie adaptations.
    Useful Links
    Fear Feasts Podcast that analyses the horror genre in films and literature through the use and symbolism of food. You can find Fear Feasts on Instagram and Twitter/X.
    Vanessa is also one of the hosts of the Sharing the Flavor podcast. You can find Vanessa on Instagram and Twitter/X.
    Allie is a co-host of the A is for Apple Podcast (along with myself and Dr Neil Buttery). You can find Allie on Instagram and Twitter/X. Her book A Gothic Cookbook, co-authored with Ella Buchan, will be out this autumn. Allie was also a guest on Episode 4 of this season in which we looked at murderous chocolate.
    You can find the chocolate aubergine ‘parmigiana’ recipe we talked about at the end of this episode over on the A is for Apple Substack.
    Suggested Reading/Viewing
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (2000)
    The Witches by Roald Dahl (2022)
    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (2024)
    The Twits by Roald Dahl (2016)
    Marvellously Revolting Recipes by Roald Dahl (2023)
    Complete Short Stories by Roald Dahl (2013) - this contains many of the stories which became the television series Tales of the Unexpected.
    The Gremlins : The Lost Walt Disney Production : A Royal Air Force Story by Roald Dahl (2006)
    Neil Gaiman author of books such as American Gods, Good Omens and Coraline.
    Struwwelpeter: Merry Stories And Funny Pictures by Heinrich Hoffman (1845)
    ‘Candy Boys And Chocolate Factories’ by Catherine Keyser in Modern Fiction Studies
    Vol. 63, No. 3 (Fall 2017), pp. 403-428
    ‘The 19th-Century Book of Horrors That Scared German Kids Into Behaving’ by Sarah Laskow on Atlas Obscurer 14 June, 2014
    Consuming Gothic: Food and Horror in Film by Lorna Piatti-Farnell (2017)
    Sibéal Pounder author of the Witch Wars and the novelisation of Wonka
    ‘Roald Dahl And Danger In Children's Literature’ by Barbara Basbanes Richter in The Sewanee Review Vol. 123, No. 2 (Spring 2015), pp. 325-334
    Tales of the Unexpected
    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory trailer (1971)
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory trailer (2005)
    Wonka trailer (2023)



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    • 52 min
    S2 Episode 7: Brownie Angles

    S2 Episode 7: Brownie Angles

    THE FOLLOWING EPISODE FOCUSES ON THE MEDICINAL USES OF CANNABIS WITH OCCASIONAL REFERENCES TO RECREATIONAL USE.
    In the early days of chocolate, before we started stuffing it full of sugar, it was hailed as something of a health food. Chocolate was recognised as a suitable vehicle for all manner of medicines such as laxatives and vermifuges. In the twentieth century chocolate confections like brownies were adapted to convey cannabis as an alternative to smoking it.
    In this episode I’m joined by Dr. Bradley Borougerdi Professor of History from Tarrant County College in Arlington, Texas and drug historian Emily Dufton. We will be exploring the history of hash or weed brownies and how they have been used to alleviate the symptoms of critical diseases like AIDS. In particular we discuss Meridy Volz and Mary Jane Rathbun who achieved notoriety by selling these chocolate delicacies in the 1980s.
    Potpourri a la Liberté
    Mix, in a big country, a magic herb, a blend of people (do not separate), and lots of chutzpah. Pour off prohibition, strain out and discard unjust laws. Use no DEA. Whip media into a frenzy. Smoke remainder for several decades. Serve. (Brownie Mary's marijuana cookbook, Dennis Peron's recipe for social change)
    Useful Links
    Commodifying Cannabis: A Cultural History of a Complex Plant in the Atlantic World by Dr Bradley Borougerdi (2020). Reaktion Books will be publishing a Global History of Cannabis by Bradley in 2025.
    Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America by Emily Dufton (2017). Her new book, tentatively titled Addiction, Inc: Medication-Assisted Treatment and America’s Forgotten War on Drugs will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2025. You can find out more about Emily on her website or follow her on Instagram or Twitter/X.
    You can find Meridy Volz on Instagram and Facebook where you can see examples of her artwork.
    The recipe for Brian Gysen’s Haschich (sic) Fudge originally published in the UK edition of the Alice B Toklas Cookbook (1954) can be found online in a collection of Alice’s writing called Murder in the Kitchen (2011)
    Ann Arbor Hash Bash
    Shanti Project
    Suggested Reading/Viewing
    ‘Go Ask Alice: The History of Toklas’ Legendary Hashish Fudge’ by Layla Eplett, Scientific American, 20 April 2015
    ‘Activist Preserves Legacy Of Husband Who Won Right To Medical Marijuana Grown By The Feds 45 Years Ago’ by Kyle Jaeger on the Marijuana Moment website, 8 May 2023
    Brownie Mary's Marijuana Cookbook, Dennis Peron's Recipe For Social Change by Mary Jane Rathbun and Denis Peron (1996)
    Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco by Alia Volz (2020)
    ‘My Mom Secretly Made Pot Brownies For AIDS Patients And It Changed My Life’ by Alia Volz on the Huffington Post website, 5 August 2020
    ‘Activist Robert C. Randall Dies’ by Graeme Zielinski in the Washington Post, 7 June 2001
    ‘Brownie Mary’ Robert Dunes Video on YouTube
    ‘I love you Alice B Toklas - Best Brownie Recipe’ (clip from Peter Sellers’ movie via YouTube)
    Bong Appetit on YouTube
    '


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    • 57 min
    S2 Episode 6: Whatever Happened to Fry's?

    S2 Episode 6: Whatever Happened to Fry's?

    In Episode 6 I am joined by chocolate historian, archivist and novelist Alex Hutchinson to discuss the rise and fall of the Bristol based Fry’s chocolate company.
    In this episode I discover what made quakers such good business people and why chocolate in particular appealed to them (aside from its delicious taste, obviously). We chat about the innovations in chocolate processing and business opportunities that helped make Fry’s the leading British chocolate manufacturer in the nineteenth century before its decline in the early twentieth century. So what went wrong?
    Useful Links
    Alex the Archivist
    Penny Thorpe Books:
    * The Quality Street Girls
    * The Mothers of Quality Street
    * The Quality Street Wedding
    * A Quality Street Christmas
    You can follow Alex on Twitter/X and Instagram.
    Records of J S Fry and Sons, chocolate manufacturers, of Bristol are kept at the Bristol Archives.
    You can view an advert for Fry’s Churchman’s Chocolate here.
    A written Virtual Tour of chocolate sites in Bristol is available on Internet Archive.
    More information about the various Test Acts is available at parliament.uk
    Don’t forget to check out my new podcast collaboration with Dr Neil Buttery and Dr Allie Pino the A is for Apple Podcast. You can follow this podcast on Instagram, Twitter/X and there is a newsletter on Substack too!
    Suggested Reading
    Fry's Chocolate Dream: The Rise and Fall of a Chocolate Empire by John Bradley, 2013
    Cadbury's Purple Reign: The Story Behind Chocolate's Best-Loved Brand by John Bradley, 2008
    Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry. by Deborah Cadbury, London: Harper Press, 2010
    ‘J.S. Fry & sons: Growth and Decline in the Chocolate Industry, 1753-1918’ by Stefanie Diaper in Studies in the Business History of Bristol edited Charles E. Harvey and Jon Press, Bristol: Bristol Academic Press, 1988, pp33-55
    ‘Dying for a Humbug, the Bradford Sweets Poisoning 1858’ by Ben Johnson on Historic UK
    Sailor Rations in the 18th Century - Burgoo (YouTube)
    The Chocolate Conscience by Gillian Wagner, Chatto & Windus, 1987


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    • 46 min
    S2: Bonus Easter Egg Episode

    S2: Bonus Easter Egg Episode

    Before you tuck into your chocolate eggs today I thought you might like to hear a little bit about how they came being. In the UK Fry’s of Bristol are credited with inventing the first moulded chocolate bar in 1847 and hollow chocolate eggs a couple of decades later. I had a chat recently with chocolate historian and archivist Alex Hutchinson about Fry’s which led to a discussion about the unsung beauty of French chocolate. So were Fry’s as creative as we think or should we be looking further afield for the chocolate innovators?
    You’ll be able to hear the full interview with Alex soon where we discuss rise and fall of the Fry’s chocolate company. You can also find two recipes for Easter Biscuits on this Substack including a chocolatey version.
    Useful Links
    Alex the Archivist
    Penny Thorpe Books:
    * The Quality Street Girls
    * The Mothers of Quality Street
    * The Quality Street Wedding
    * A Quality Street Christmas
    Suggested Reading
    You can discover more about the history of chocolate in my book, The Philosophy of Chocolate, published by the British Library
    You can read more about the origins of Easter eggs in this article I wrote for English Heritage a few years back.
    Rachel over at has also written a rather good piece on Easter Food Traditions on Substack.


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    • 9 min
    S2 Episode 5: Meet the Tosiers

    S2 Episode 5: Meet the Tosiers

    In this episode I explore the life of some extraordinary business women in the eighteenth century with Helen White, Senior Interpretation Manager from the Old Royal Naval College and Dr Sara Pennell, Associate Professor in Early Modern British History at the University of Greenwich. We had a fascinating chat about chocolate house owner Grace Tosier and confectioner Mary Eales.
    There is a teensy error in my intro. Thomas Tosier (Grace’s husband) became the Royal Chocolate Maker in 1714 not 1717 as stated by myself. You can read more and watch a short video about the discovery of the Chocolate Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace here.
    From 29 March until 3 November 2024 you will be able to visit a new exhibition at the Old Royal Naval College to discover the key role chocolate played in the revival of Greenwich. As part of the exhibition, there will be a recreation of the Tosier Chocolate House, which was run by Grace Tosier, and was once located on the edge of Blackheath in what became known as Chocolate Row. Discover how Greenwich became a popular destination for sophisticated people, and a hub for astronomy, science and culture, with Sir Christopher Wren’s iconic architectural project, the Royal Hospital for Seamen at its centre.  
    Useful Links
    Chocolate House Greenwich Exhibition at the Old Royal Naval College
    Follow the Old Royal Naval College on Instagram and X (Twitter)
    Further Reading
    Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550-1800 (2013) Edited by Michelle DiMeo and Sara Pennell
    The Birth of the English Kitchen, 1600-1850 (2016) by Sara Pennell
    Mrs Mary Eales’s Receipts (1718)
    Royal Chocolate House, Greenwich on the Blackheath & Greenwich History Blog
    Greenwich Historical Society



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    • 49 min
    Introducing A is for Apple

    Introducing A is for Apple

    Apologies for the radio silence folks! 2024 has been hectic so far hence no new Comfortably Hungry episodes. There will be some more additions to Season 2 but in the meantime I wanted to share this new podcast I am working on with Dr Neil Buttery (of the British Food History Podcast) and Dr Allie Pino (of the Fear Feasts Podcast).
    A is for Apple is an encyclopaedia of food and drink in podcast format. Each season we will be discussing a variety of edible and drinkable delights (and anything in between). You subscribe to the newsletter on Substack which will include extra audio and recipes inspired by the episode theme.
    In this pilot episode Allie takes on apples…a seemingly simple route but she looks at the darker side of this humble fruit. Witchcraft, ghosts murder and….apple detectives! Neil explores the green tinted history of absinth and I investigate the nineteenth century dodgy dealings done in the name of adulteration.
    Links to things mentioned in this episode:
    ‘13 Magical Ways to Use Apples’
    Glyn Hughes’ Alan Turin sculpture
    ‘Lancashire man poisoned after eating cherry seeds’ article on BBC News
    ‘How Did La Belle Époque Become Europe’s Golden Age?’ article on The Collector
    ‘Site of "The Absinthe Murders"’ article on Atlas Obscura
    The Apple Tree (1952) by Daphne du Maurier
    Hallowe’en Party (1969) by Agatha Christie
    The July Ghost (1982) by A.S. Byatt
    A treatise on adulterations of food, and culinary poisons. Exhibiting the fraudulent sophistications of bread, beer, wine, spirituous liquors, tea, coffee, cream, confectionery, vinegar, mustard, pepper, cheese, olive oil, pickles and other articles employed in domestic economy ; and methods of detecting them. (1820) by Friedrich Accum
    Join our free Substack to get extra bonus features: https://substack.com/profile/147444179-sam-bilton 

    Anything to add? Don’t forget we want to hear your suggestions for future topics.
    Contact us:
    email: aisforapplepod.gmail.com
    Social media:
    twitter/X: @aisforapplepod
    Instagram: @aisforapplepod_


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    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
7 Ratings

7 Ratings

Alliefood ,

Love this podcast!

Can’t wait for each new episode to come out- absolutely love this podcast.

CEPSW ,

Fascinating podcast

A real joy to listen to and full of interesting food-related information. Thank you, Sam

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