The American Plate

Welcome to my website, the online home for The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites. The site is dedicated to themes of history and all things related to food, from ancient maize to contemporary food trends. Images of gardens, architecture, and art will weave in and out, and guests will make an occasional appearance.

  1. Henry the VIII

    This cook stove at Henry VIII's massive kitchens at Hampton Court illustrates the height of technology in the 1500's . If you're ever in London, take a short train trip to explore this amazing palace. Imagine feeding 600 people a day in the pre-industrial age. The kitchens operated as a giant food factory, where the workers wore very little clothing due to the heat generated by the stoves and giant hearths. Matt and I had a great lunch there too at the café, with Tudor-inspired food.  
  2. Fiddlehead Ferns

    Fiddlehead ferns have a short season, so enjoy them when they appear each spring. You'll be eating the same greens enjoyed by the first people in North America as well as the early settlers on the frontier. Foraging has a long history, and experienced a strong revival during the Great Depression when people all over the country went hungry. Now it’s back in style, but I bought these in Grand Central Station Market, NYC. You can read about foraging in Chapter 8 of The American Plate.  
  3. Navajo Fry Bread

    Authentic Navajo fry bread at the Black Sheep Cafe, Provo, Utah . Formally trained chef and friendly staff present a delicious, unusual menu with HUGE portions of American Indian and Mexican influenced food, plus some great classics. Go hungry. It's worth the trip to Provo all by itself. ( Chapter 8 again)
  4. Beef Pot Pie

    Beef pot pie from City Tavern is a satisfying, heritage dish served at a Philadelphia restaurant with historic flavors. I frequently travel to Philadelphia to meet with the folks at National Independence Park. If possible, I'll steal some time for lunch with my colleagues at City Tavern, where Chef Walter Staib prepares historic food with modern taste buds in mind. The original City Tavern, where many of the original founding fathers met for a drink or a dinner, burned down long ago. This building is a pleasing, 45 year old  reproduction with a lovely garden, providing the right atmosphere and menu for the historic meal.
  5. Lt. Bryan Gromoko

    Lt. Bryan Gromoko and his fellow firefighters at from Engine Company # 33 and Ladder company #9 welcomed me last year with a tour of their historic firehouse on Great Jones St. in the East Village , NYC. They gave me a handwritten copy of their chili recipe, which I include in The American Plate. That much chili powder has to be a 4 alarm joke.
  6. Monticello Kitchen

    Thomas Jefferson’s kitchen at Monticello, with the latest in foodways technology he imported from France, is a story in itself. UNESCO has declared Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello a World Heritage Site, and I agree. If you haven’t visited yet, what’s stopping you? Monticello is well worth a pilgrimage. In this kitchen, African traditions combined with European flavors and indigenous ingredients to create a truly unique, gourmet dining experience for Jefferson, his family, and his multitude of guests.
  7. Il Buco

    One of Lucy’s favorite restaurants in Manhattan is Il Buco on Bond Street and its neighboring, more informal version, Il Buco Alimentari, across the street from the firehouse on Great Jones Street. The roasted baby artichokes are perfectly seasoned and a nice plate to share.
  8. Point Reyes Station

    I love this cow sign from Point Reyes Station, about 90 minutes north of San Francisco. Great burgers in this town, and Cowgirl Creamery is here too, one of the best artisan cheese producers in North America. Even if you are vegan, this little scenic town near the Pacific coast has delicious offerings. And of course, the local wine is fabulous.  
  9. Hand-made Potato Chips

    Over Labor Day weekend on the South Fork of Long Island, Tina and I went to Sag Harbor’s Farmers Market and stopped by Cavaniola’s Cheese Shop, where the owners present every item as a work of art. Yes, expensive art, but still hard to resist. I get hungry just looking at this shot of gorgeous, hand-made potato chips. And unless you are from Idaho, you should know that Long Island potatoes are the finest in the country.  
  10. Sassafrass in the Fall

  11. File Leaf

    File ( pronounced fee-lay), used in gumbo and other heritage foods as a thickener and an accent flavor, comes from the leaves of the sassafras tree. Several of these small trees grow in a grove along the west side of our property, and that's where I plucked this leaf. Native Americans used sassafras extensively in their medicines, and the first settlers exported barrels full, claiming it could cure syphilis. See Chapter 2 in  The American Plate for more information on sassafras. The name is fun all by itself.
  12. Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria

    The famous food market in Barcelona , Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria is simply called La Boqueria . Located right on La Rambla, it's a great place to explore. The seafood section presents a dazzling variety, the local vegetables glow, and the hams rank among the world's best. 
  13. Autumn Berry Bush

    There is a big Autumn Berry bush growing wild  in our dog park and the birds are loving it. But people should too. Related to the olive tree, the bright red berries are packed with nutrients - it's a great source of lycopene and make a tasty jam. Downside: it's invasive. Upside: keep it under control and you and the birds will have natural food source every autumn.
  14. Heirloom Tomatoes

    Lots of heirloom varieties at the farmers market at the Embarcadero, San Francisco. What's your favorite heirloom tomato ? I like the Black Cherokees, originating among the Cherokee people. Dark purple with green "shoulders", these heirlooms get my vote.
  15. Maille

    Here is the Maille storefront in Paris. Good news : you can buy their grainy mustard in good quality markets here in the USA or Canada. I use it for my standard vinaigrette which I make by the quart. Or try it spread thinly on a steak before broiling.
  16. Ladurée

    Laduree is famous for its macaroons but my favorite pastry is their chocolate hazelnut dacquoise. Try it next time you are in Paris.
  17. Blue Smoke BBQ

    Blue Smoke barbecue makes waiting time at JFK a spicy experience. Try the pulled pork.
  18. Monticello Garden Cake

    Commissioned by the talented Charlotte Moss
  19. Cherry Mash

    St. Joseph, Mo.  produces Cherry Mash, a local candy proudly displayed at the Kansas City airport among other regional locations.
  20. Goo-Goo Clusters

    Goo-Goo Clusters are made in Nashville- a local candy with local pride