About thirty years ago I addressed a conference of history teachers in Connecticut. As I was the luncheon speaker, I decided to build my presentation on the concept of food as a vehicle for understanding history. Specifically, I examined how the food that had just been consumed affected history, and conversely, how historical events influenced those foods. The audience, expecting a twenty-page treatise on some significant but boring topic, greeted the unorthodox approach with surprise and enthusiasm.
Ever since, I've loved food history and have been researching various subjects for the past 25 years. To date I have completed 12 books and dozens of articles. I prefer to explore common foods--tomatoes, ketchup, popcorn, peanuts--and uncover a little about what it means to be an American.
I teach culinary history titled "From Marcus Apicius to Julia Child" at the New School University in Manhattan. And I am the Editor-in-chief for Oxford University of Press's "Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink," scheduled for publication in 2004.