Over the last year, I’ve really fallen down a rabbit hole of historical food videos on Youtube, starting with the wonderful Tasting History show, and the Mrs. Crocombe videos that recreate Victorian recipes. But another show with a particular focus is the Townsend’s historical cooking channel.
This is the channel belonging to Jas Townsend and Sons, a company in Indiana who sell 18th-century reproductions of clothes, cookware, food, and many other things. It’s not exclusively devoted to cooking – there is stuff about building a log cabin, not getting your panties in a twist over ephemeral politics, and so on – but a large amount of it is devoted to exploring the cuisine of 18th-century America, ranging from the culinary efforts of the enslaved to the recipes inherited from England.
Townsend is a very pleasant and soothing person to watch, and he chats with the camera about the historical context of his dishes as he makes them. Part of the appeal is just in how unpredictable and odd these dishes are from when you recreate them as accurately as possible. What was fried chicken like back then? Or mac’n’cheese? What recipes did Martha Washington have? And what is fried lobster like?