Learn the Stories of Early Foodies at the Folger Shakespeare Library

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Hundreds of years ago, procuring food wasn’t as easy as heading to the nearest grocery store or restaurant. Members of the wealthy upper class relied on servants and enslaved people to satisfy their culinary whims, while those hard workers also had to feed themselves and their own families. First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas at the Folger Shakespeare Library, on display through March 31, highlights the stories of those who shaped early modern food culture, as well as the human toll associated with it.

The exhibit tells the stories of numerous notable people, like Thomas Tusser, a poet and self-taught farmer. In 1557 he wrote a how-to agricultural poem, which includes a rhyme still recited today: “Sweet April showers do spring May flowers.” Visitors will also learn about William Hughes, a pirate and botanist who first wrote about chocolate in 1672, dubbing a drink made from cacao as the “American Nectar.”

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