Archive for the ‘Abraham Lincoln’ Tag

Imagine cooking in Lincoln’s era   Leave a comment

Rae Katherine Eighmey unites history with cooking in Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times. The author chronologically describes Lincoln’s life based on locale, the people he frequently interacted with and the foods he most likely ate. There are only a few actual accounts of meals and menus, so Eighmey relies on cookbooks from Lincoln’s era and references made in letters to, from or about the Lincoln family.

This is not especially engaging, as cookbooks go, but it does have some interesting elements which should especially appeal to history buffs. Eighmey includes 55 recipes, which she has “updated for the modern kitchen.” Some are basic such as Roast Turkey with only butter and flour as added ingredients to the bird. Others are more complicated, including December Sausages. Consider recipes such as cucumber catsup (also a recipe for tomato ketchup; the spelling changes as do the ingredients).

Several interesting recipes like nutmeg donuts and almond pound cake do tempt the palate, though. Surprisingly, the latter calls for ½ cup of white wine, something I’d not previously considered for a cake. Wine is also part of the Apees recipe, which is a blend of a digestive cookie and cracker.

Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times

Three bookmarks

Smithsonian Book, 2013

270 pages, including Notes, Bibliography and Index

Shall We Gather at the Cemetery   Leave a comment

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Lincoln in the Bardo is a mash-up. It’s part Greek tragedy, part play, part poem and completely imaginative. George Saunders has crafted a novel that can best be described as unusual, and that’s meant as a compliment.

Amid a graveyard setting, following the death of Willie Lincoln, the 11-year-old son of the U.S. president, Saunders’ tale is about grief, the afterlife and the disenfranchised. It includes a lot of humor.

Bardo comes from the Buddhist thought regarding a state between life and death; a purgatory of sorts. The characters are largely those trapped in this transitional stage. Although they are definitely dead, Saunders brings them to life through references to their foibles when they were alive as well as through their attitudes and deeds among the nonliving. They aren’t zombies, but they are supernatural.

There is no dialogue. Instead, observations on the action are shared through statements from the characters or from accounts in books, newspapers, conversations and other sources. It’s a blend of having each statement presented as lines in a play with footnotes. For example, this about Abraham Lincolns’ grief:

“It was only just at bedtime, when the boy would normally present
himself for some talk or roughhousing that Mr. Lincoln seemed truly
mindful of the irreversibility of the loss.”
In “Selected Memories from a Life of Service,”
By Stanley Hohner

Initially, it was a bit difficult to embrace the format and the narrative. However, it becomes evident that Saunders is creative and appreciates a good laugh.

Lincoln in the Bardo

Four Bookmarks
Random House, 2017
343 pages