American Food Roots launches video series on the food of World War I just in time for Veterans Day
"Meatless Mondays" were not invented by hippies. Soybean croquettes were not the brainchild of the vegan movement. And maple syrup was promoted as an "alternative" sweetener long before the war against high-fructose corn syrup. All of these items, in fact, can trace part of their heritage to World War I.
American Food Roots launches a video series tomorrow profiling the food of World War I and the lasting
impact it’s had on American culture. Beginning on Veterans Day 2014, the series will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War with the help of three nationally recognized historians who unpack the story of the way we eat today.
"What’s surprising in this material are the number of foods and nutritional concepts that we think of as contemporary," says American Food Roots’ managing editor Bonny Wolf, who moderates the conversation. "In fact, many of our current culinary habits can trace their beginnings to this seminal event 100 years ago."
"A World War I Meal From Soup to Nuts," the first in the five-part series, introduces the idea that America began fighting the war from its kitchens long before its soldiers reached Europe. The "First Course" video profiles the rise of peanut butter as a meat substitute -- driven in part by Southern farmers who were transitioning from cotton -- and a high-falutin’ ingredient called "mayonnaise." In the remaining three videos, soybeans are fashioned into croquettes and braised tongue tells an early nose-to-tail story. Dessert is all maple syrup, which bolsters barley flour and buckwheat in a cake that will please today’s health-conscious bakers.
American Food Roots is an award-winning online magazine that covers American food and culture. AFR took two prizes in the Association of Food Journalists 2014 Awards, including in the "Best Food Blog" category. It was founded in December 2012 by four veteran journalists and is run by NPR commentator and food writer Bonny Wolf and Associated Press food writer Michele Kayal.
"Why dig up the roots of American food?" AFR’s mission statement asks. "Because that’s how we know who we are."
Bonny Wolf is a long-time journalist who contributes regular food commentary for NPR’s Weekend Edition. She was chief speechwriter for two U.S. secretaries of agriculture and is managing editor of American Food Roots.
Helen Veit, who teaches at Michigan State University, is a historian of the 19th- and 20th-century United States, with a focus on food. Her book "Food in the Civil War Era" was published in May. She also is considered an expert on WWI food.
Amanda Moniz is a historian of 18th-century humanitarianism and a former pastry chef. She teaches historic cooking classes, writes about history through food and is assistant director of the National History Center.
Makes 2 loaves
During World War I, white flour was thought to be the purest, healthiest flour and so was saved for the troops. Many breads of the era used "thirded" recipes, recipes that included three different types of grain -- a throwback to Boston brown bread. The original version of this recipe calls for 1 cake of yeast and for the bread to be baked in "moderately hot oven." We have done the conversions for you. This recipe was adapted from "Foods That Will Win the War and How to Cook Them," by C. Houston Goudiss and Alberta M. Goudiss.
Ingredients •2 cups boiling water
•2 tablespoons sugar
•2 tablespoons fat
•1½ teaspoons salt
•¼ cup lukewarm water
•6 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
•6 cups rye flour
•1½ cups whole wheat flour
Pour the boiling water into a large bowl and add the sugar, fat and salt. Put the bowl aside to cool.
Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. When the boiled water cools enough to keep a finger in it for a few seconds, add the dissolved yeast. Add the rye and whole wheat flour.
Cover and let rise until twice its bulk, shape into loaves; let rise until double and bake about 40 minutes, in a 350-degree oven.
Makes 1 loaf
Fish was seen as a plentiful and economic alternative to meat. (In fact, even chicken was considered a meat alternative.) Recipes of the World War I era also assumed a certain amount of cooking skill. The original directions for this recipe, adapted from "Foods That Will Win the War and How to Cook Them," by C. Houston Goudiss and Alberta M. Goudiss, simply said "Mix thoroughly. Bake in greased dish 30 minutes." We have offered a bit more help.
•2 cups cooked salmon
•1 cup grated breadcrumbs
•2 beaten eggs
•½ cup milk
•½ teaspoon paprika
•½ teaspoon salt
•1 tablespoon chopped parsley
•1 teaspoonful onion juice
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Grease an 8 1/2-by-4-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well combined. Form the mixture into a log and place it in the greased loaf pan. Bake until cooked through, about 1 hour or until firm.