It might seem impossible to believe that we have a lot in common with a peasant toiling in a medieval field at the turn of the second millennium, or a Venetian pirate as plague rampages through your city’s canals, or a young girl on trial for witchcraft, or a chef who cooked for princes and kings. But here’s the thing, everyone has to eat, and that primal need has been one of the major forces in world history since we gathered around the promethean fire. That’s what we’re exploring in this season’s podcast - how food has shaped who we have become. Super casual, right? One thousand years of history, explored plate first.
Episode 10: The Berlin Airlift & Currywurst
One of the themes from this Podcast is very simple: our food defines who we are. On the first episode of A Time and A Plate, I laid it out: Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are. Food is an expression of nationalist identity, ethnic roots, your family, your economics, your self-identity. Food and society are inseparable. On today’s episode, the impossible prevails, candy falls from the sky, and a hot war becomes a cold peace.
Episode 9: Antonin Careme
Up until now, nearly every episode of this podcast has been seasoned with spice. Sweet, savory, sour, and heavily perfumed were the flavors of history. Back to the honeyed courts of Babylonian kings through the spectacle of Renaissance feasts across Italian city states, spices were a constant; a constant symbol of power, a constant purpose for trade, a constant reason for battle. The world was shaped by the pursuit of spices.
And then they went away. Their trade slackened, battles hinged on new commodities, and most simply, they just weren’t cool anymore.
At least, in the west it seemed that way.
Sure, you’ll find cinnamon in some desserts, maybe a sprinkle of nutmeg - and let’s just choose to ignore Spain’s obsession with paprika for a moment so I can make an argument, but by and large, the sweet, savory, sour, and spiced flavors of the past disappeared from the western palette.
When a swift, immediate change upending the status quo occurs, it’s called a revolution. And a revolution did happen. A revolution of the mind shook the western world from it’s gilded past. Crowns were replaced by Phrygian caps, and spices with nouvelle cuisine. The modern world had begun.
On today’s episode, we follow Antonin Careme, the chef of kings and the king of chefs as he cooks his way through revolution, war, and across a Europe in upheaval. Later on in the episode, we’re joined by Jonathan Gold to discuss the creation of the restaurant, and what exactly is modern food.
Episode 8: Croissants
On today’s episode of A Time and a Plate, we delve into the tunnels under Vienna to discover the true history of the croissant.
Later in the episode we chat with guest Na Young Ma of Proof Bakery in Los Angeles, California
Episode 7: Food and Magic
On today’s episode of A Time And A Plate, we find ourselves baking a witch’s cake on the eve of the Salem Witch Trials. We journey to the 17th century American frontier, on the cresting wave of early Protestantism, and the pervasive tide of English folk magic pulling us back. Magic, was alive and real in the Early Modern Era, and magical food could be used to heal, protect, or kill.
Later in the episode we chat with Danielle Bell of De Porres Dinner Series Los Angeles-based dinner series and catering company.
Episode 6: Italian Cuisine
On today’s episode of A Time And A Plate, we go into the most secret room in the Renaissance world, and sneak a peek at the menu. We see the rise of humanism, the decline of Rome, and the first glimmer of “Italian Cuisine” from one of the world’s first celebrity chefs.
Later we chat with Katie Parla, the co-author of Taste of Rome, and an amazing culinary writer based in Rome.
Episode 5: Chocolate
On today’s episode of A Time And A Plate, we go back to 1491, and sip chocolate on the throne of Moctezuma just before the horizon to the east blackens with Spanish galleons. The world was about to change once again, and become larger than ever imagined.
Later in the episode we’re joined by Jonathan Grahm, an LA chocolatier and friend of mine, to talk chocolate in this century — which is quite different!
Beautifully done podcast
This podcast knocked me off my feet. I wasn’t expecting to love it quite like I did. It is so well produced it’s insane. I don’t have enough staccato declarative sentences to profess my love. Seriously, Claire does a wonderful job telling the history behind each episode. Her eloquence, coupled with the amazing score (sound track? Musical accompaniment?), makes this truly worth a listen.
I hope we see an update from this podcast soon! Claire’s voice is so relaxing, and the historical aspects behind our favorite foods is so fascinating!
Fun and engaging
I love this podcast. Last winter I started and finished the first few episodes within a couple of days and was heartbroken when there weren't more! Blending both her love of history and her knowledge and passion for food makes this pod so engaging. Plus Claire's voice is so great as a verbal guide through the stories she brings to life! Once you start listening you'll get hooked - and be hungry.