Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Food History

Friday, November 6, 2015

What's cooking at 1300 on Fillmore

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 11:00 AM

  • Ali Wunderman

I’m no Southerner, but there’s a special place in my heart (and my stomach) for innovative but authentic Southern food. That’s why I was eager to try out 1300 on Fillmore’s revamped menu, because I’ll never not be a sucker for fried chicken.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Changing Flavor of Guerneville

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 9:00 AM

  • C. Emmett Sommers

For those of us who didn’t have summer camp, we had the Russian River. For me, it was an oasis away from urban life, a haven of forests, vineyards, and a glorious river that shaped me in the way it shaped the surrounding valley. Growing up, I would spend all summer tucked beneath the redwoods, passing my days with friends building forts along the water, and my nights traversing the intricate social ecosystems that children create for themselves.

Those summers influenced us in the way that only daily exposure to nature can. We learned to read and respect the currents of the water, to recognize poison oak (the hard way), and to hand-catch crawdads for dinner.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, April 27, 2015

Don Draper and the History of Rye Whiskey

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 2:00 PM

  • WhistlePig Rye

WhistlePig Rye
is a premium, 100 percent rye whiskey, aged for ten years, and bottled on a farm in rural Vermont. Already unique for its mash bill and age statement, the brand expanded its inventive flavors earlier this spring by introducing a limited line of exclusive finishes. Collectively known as the Old World Series, the three releases feature 12-year-old rye which comes to rest in used Sauterne, Madeira, and port barrels, respectively. They represent the first ryes of their kind to be available commercially. The first two expressions — retailing at $119 — have already hit the shelves here in San Francisco.

The final port finish arrives later this spring, before a blend of all three becomes a permanent addition to WhistlePig's portfolio. All three showcase a nutty, saccharine whisper that tangos gracefully with the spice of their high-rye base. The lengthy barrel aging of the spirit itself inserts a tannic oakiness as the underlying canvas upon which the sweet wine characteristics resolve themselves.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, April 23, 2015

100 Years On, Remembering the Armenian Genocide With Soujouk

Posted By on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 11:00 AM

  • Nadir Keklik

Every few years, my parents, Paul and Priscilla, host a party of extended family and friends to make a cured Armenian sausage called soujouk. It’s pungent, spicy, hard, tough, chewy, delicious, often nearly black, and takes over a month to make. As with  many Armenian foods, soujouk is not widely available outside of specialty markets, and if you want to replicate Grandma Nouritza’s, you’re better off making it at home.

Since it's only worth making in huge quantities, before throwing a party my folks will ask their guests how many pounds of meat they would like and multiply accordingly. Alongside bird-watching and Ms. Pac-Man, cuts of meat are one of my father’s specialties. His father was a butcher who owned Monument Market in Everett, Massachusetts, and as Dad grew up, he learned the trade. These days, he gets his meat from his butcher cousin, Nish, or from guys who Grandpa taught to cut, grinding it himself in the basement. Raw and cured recipes necessitate higher-quality meat than what’s found at a supermarket, usually requiring a visit to your local butcher. Luckily for San Francisco, artisanal meats are all the mustachioed rage, so it should be easy to ride to one by penny-farthing.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Today is McDonald's 60th Anniversary, Kinda

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 2:01 PM

At the oldest extant McDonalds, in Downey, California. - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • At the oldest extant McDonalds, in Downey, California.

Although the McDonald brothers and later Ray Kroc had been serving hamburgers for years already, today is the 60th anniversary of McDonald’s as a franchised corporation. On April 15, 1955, a Mickey D’s opened up a Googie gem in Des Plaines, Illinois, selling cheeseburgers for 19 cents, milk shakes for 20 cents, and fries, coffee, and root beer for a dime each.

While the Golden Arches were already there, McDonald’s in 1955 was still using its original, pre-Ronald McDonald mascot, Speedee. (That Chicagoland location, not far from Hamburger University in Kroc’s hometown of Oak Brook, has since become the McDonald’s #1 Store Museum, which is not to be confused with the Big Mac Museum in Pennsylvania. While the McDonald Brothers’ original San Bernardino restaurant was eventually demolished, the Downey, California location remains the oldest existing store.)

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: ,

Monday, September 29, 2014

USPS Releases New Stamps Featuring Celebrity Chefs

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 4:21 PM


Good news, food-obsessed letter-mailers: The USPS has just released a bunch of new Forever stamps commemorating the nation's food pioneers. The people featured run the gamut from writers and TV personalities like James Beard and Julia Child to chefs like Edna Lewis, Joyce Chen, and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, who introduced generations to Southern food, Chinese food, and small plates respectively.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Go Back to School With a Yale Professor's Lecture on the History of Celebrity Chefs

Posted By on Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Do you like interesting things? Then you will probably like this 20ish-minute lecture from Yale history professor Paul Freedman all about the history of celebrity chefs from the ancient Greeks to royal chefs to Alice Waters. Eater dug up this talk the professor gave at the MAD 4 symposium in Copenhagen.

It's a fascinating look at the growth of an icon we take for granted in today's food world, with none of the self-aggrandizement of a TED talk. There's also some riffing on the meaning of the chef in the modern world. Worth watching!

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Was The Mimosa Invented in S.F.?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 4:05 PM

The Bold Italic has a fun blog post today with six things you never knew were invented in San Francisco, and one of them took us completely by surprise: the mimosa. As the cited story goes, everyone's favorite brunch drink was invented by the Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, on a rough morning after a night of drinking at Jeanty at Jack's. (He must've been in town a lot -- Vertigo, The Birds, and Shadow of a Doubt were all filmed in or near San Francisco.)

See also: Re-Visiting the Hangtown Fry, the Dish That Epitomizes Gold Rush California

The 20 Most Significant Food Inventions in History

Step Inside S.F.'s Oldest Restaurants With New Interactive Book

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Talking Life, Work, and Herring With Mark Russ Federman of Russ and Daughters

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 8:40 AM


Russ and Daughters is one of those iconic New York food spots that has cultural capital well outside the five boroughs. From its uber-humble beginnings as a herring pushcart in 1907, the "appetizing store" has become a Jewish food juggernaut, shipping millions of fish around the world, gaining the die-hard loyalty of foodies ranging from Anthony Bourdain to Calvin Trillin, and making a guest appearance this season on Louie.

Mark Russ Federman, author of the new memoir Russ and Daughters: The House That Herring Built, recently hosted a brunch at the JCCSF. The event sold out well in advance, a testament to the dearth of appetizing stores in the Bay Area. SFoodie caught up with Federman, a "born schmoozer," for a lengthy discussion of smoked fish, perceptions of ethnic food, and gentrification.

See also: Q&A with Evan Bloom of Wise Sons Jewish Deli

Beauty's Bagel Shop Begins Baking Montreal-Style Bagels

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nerding Out With an Heirloom Seed Catalog

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM


Even if you don't have a green thumb, the Baker Creek Seed Catalog is a fascinating read. Bear with me. Now in its 15th year, the catalog contains listings for 1,450 seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs from more than 70 countries, many of them with super-interesting backstories. For a food history nerd such as myself, just reading entries at random is enough transport you to the markets of nineteenth century Paris or Thomas Jefferson's gardens at Monticello, emphasizing the way food acts as a through-line between present and past civilizations.

See also: Revisiting My Side of the Mountain in the Locavore Era

Re-Visiting the Hangtown Fry, the Dish That Epitomizes Gold Rush California

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"