Everybody Eats (When They Come to My House)

McWilliams_RevolutionA Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food
Shaped America
James E. McWilliams

New England Boiled Dinner. Can there be four more fearsome words in the English language? I grew up in a boiling household and the idea of enshrining that flavor-destroying technique  in the name of the meal strikes terror in my tummy.

So you can imagine my confusion when confronting a litany of the typical New England kitchen garden circa 1700 or so. This is just a patial list of things I didn’t expect to see: leeks, currants. mint, asparagus. artichokes, basil, garlic, Continue reading

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Poor Wayfaring Strangers

Wayward Pilgrims: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance
Kai T. Erikson

PilgrimsThe white spiritual that the above title is drawn from has Appalachian roots. But it strikes me that wayfaring strangers, just like Bunyan‘s pilgrims, are travelers and Professor Eriksons Puritans  traveled some distance to set their city on a hill.

It’s what they did once they got there that’s of interest to the good doctor.

This study, originally published in 1968, is a first-rate example of what I call old-school sociology. What I mean by that is it pre-dates the widespread use of advanced statistical analysis. So while there is data aplenty that data includes the historical narrative as well as facts and figures. The latter Continue reading