Food and Drink

Why We Drink Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day

Even if you’re the kind of person who scorns tasteless green beer, you might enjoy a Guinness for Saint Patrick’s Day. And why not? Unlike shamrock pins and wild partying sure to take place on March 17th, Guinness drinking really is a longstanding tradition in Ireland, as well as the Irish diaspora. But it’s a folk tradition that’s inextricably tied up with almost a century of commercial advertising, according to Brenda Murphy, a gender studies professor at the University of Malta.

I am sure that Brenda Murphy must have conducted extensive on-site research on this topic! You can read her findings in the web site at:

Using Genes to Create Personalized Diets

NOTE: This isn’t a true genealogy article. However, it describes a new DNA service and I know many genealogists are interested in almost anything dealing with DNA. Also, I am passing this along as news, not as “my recommendation.” I have no idea how effective DNA is at identifying potential health problems. However, it is an interesting article.

From the University of Nevada at Las Vegas web site:

“It turns out you really are what you eat, according to UNLV scientists who have publicly launched a site that uses computer software to scan users’ DNA for potential health problems and create personalized diets that help lower the risks.

“Food Genes and Me is a spinoff company developed by the Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine (NIPM) at UNLV.

In Search of the Food Your Norwegian Ancestors Enjoyed: Lutefisk

NOTE: I am presently in a hotel room in Oslo, Norway, and will attend the MyHeritage LIVE 2018 Conference this weekend. While here, I decided to look for a restaurant that serves a traditional Norwegian meal called lutefisk. However, I haven’t found it yet. Is it still a staple food in Norway? Admittedly, I am hampered by the fact that many restaurants in Norway print their menus only in Norwegian! Also, I am here in Norway a bit early for the lutefisk season.

I have found restaurants that serve mooseburgers and reindeer burgers (It was delicious!) and steaks but no Lutefisk as of yet.

Here is what I know about Lutefisk.

lu·te·fisk \´lüd·e¸fisk, ´ lüe-\ or lut·fisk \´lüt¸f-\ also lu-de·fisk \´lüde-\ or lud·fisk \´ lüd¸f-\ n -s [lutefisk fr. Norw, fr. lute to wash in lye solution + fisk fish; lutfisk fr. Sw, fr.luta to wash in lye solution + fisk fish; ludefisk & ludfisk fr. Dan ludfisk fr. lude to wash in lye solution + fisk fish; stockfish that has been soaked in lye water, skinned, boned, and boiled

It is with some hesitation that I write about lutefisk. It reportedly is a vile tasting dish made of cod or a similar white fish, dried, then preserved, then soaked in lye (!), later soaked in plain water to remove the caustic (poisonous) lye, then cooked. All along the way, it smells like … Well, let’s just say I am told that it smells bad. Really bad.

The Food of Our Ancestors: a Peanut Butter & Mayonnaise Sandwich

Peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches were common not so long ago: during the Great Depression (1929 to roughly 1939). In fact, once Americans had acquired a taste for these high-calorie but cheap sandwiches, I suspect many households continued to serve such sandwiches to family members for many years after the end of the Great Depression. I wouldn’t be surprised if peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches are still being served today in many kitchens.

Note: Peanut butter and mayonnaise served on white bread contain roughly 400 calories, depending upon the brands of the peanut butter, mayonnaise, and bread involved. That isn’t excessive when you consider that the average woman needs to eat about 2000 calories per day and an average man needs 2500 calories to maintain their present weight. However, the exact recommendation varies, depending upon age, height, current weight, activity levels, metabolic health, and several other factors.

What Your London Ancestors Ate: Jellied Eels

Tastes in food certainly have changed over the generations. An article by Tony Dunnell in the Atlas Obscura web site describes one of the favorite foods in London, especially amongst the working class folks in the 1700s. Eels from the River Thames were chopped, boiled, and then combined with vinegar, sliced onion, peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt. As the mixture cooled, the cooked animal’s gelatinous proteins solidified into savory jelly surrounding the meat.

If you are feeling hungry, you can learn more at:

The Food of Our Ancestors: Surströmming

Feeling hungry? Want to eat something that your ancestors enjoyed? How about Surströmming?

According to Wikipedia, Surströmming has been part of northern Swedish cuisine since at least the 16th century. However, it wasn’t confined to only Sweden. Also known as the Baltic herring, Surströmming was eaten by many people in the Baltic countries. Fermented fish is an old staple in European cuisines. The oldest archeological findings of fish fermentation are 9,200 years old and from the south of today’s Sweden.

In short, Surströmming is preserved herring. The Baltic herring is a bit smaller than the normal Atlantic herring found in the North Sea. Traditionally, the definition of strömming is “herring fished in the brackish waters of the Baltic north of the Kalmar Strait.” The herring used for surströmming are caught just prior to spawning.

You are Invited to the EOGN Dinner after the RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City!

Are you planning to attend this year’s RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City? Do you think you will be hungry after the conference closes on Saturday evening? Would you like to have dinner with a large group of genealogists? If so, join us for dinner!

You are invited to join other genealogists for dinner on Saturday evening, February 11, after the close of the RootsTech 2017 conference. Rumor has it there will also be a few door prizes.

You can make a reservation now at

You are invited to join us if:

You subscribe to the Plus Edition newsletter or…
You subscribe to the Standard Edition newsletter or…
If you occasionally read the newsletter online or…
If you have heard of the newsletter or…
If you promise to read the newsletter in the future or…
If you are a genealogist who has no other place else to go Saturday night.

You also may bring your spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend (or both!) or anyone else who would like to join us.

January 25 is Robert Burns Day So Let’s Eat Vegetarian Haggis

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

The great Scottish poet Robert Burns was born January 25, 1759. In celebration of his birthday, Burns Suppers range from formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to very informal dinners throughout Scotland and in restaurants and the homes of Scottish descendants worldwide. Most Burns Suppers adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honored form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard.

NOTE: American and Irish liquor producers usually spell it as WHISKEY, while Canadian, Scottish, and Japanese producers usually spell it WHISKY.

Almost anyone can enjoy a Burns Night celebration. All that’s needed is a place to gather, plenty of haggis and neeps to go around, a master of ceremonies, friendly celebrants, and good Scotch drink to keep you warm.

Eat Like Your Ancestors: Why You Should Forget Superfood Fads and Follow a Traditional Diet

One author suggests you should eat like your great-great-great-great-grandparents did.

NOTE: I am not advocating this diet. In fact, it contradicts my experience as a vegan over the past four years and I am not about to change. However, the article does present some interesting points and is offered here as something to think about.

100-million-years-of-food-what-our-ancestors-ate-and-why-it-matters-todayStephen Le has just published a book, 100 Million Years Of Food: What Our Ancestors Ate and Why It Matters Today. Le claims we’re not actually consuming more calories than our predecessors, despite common belief. Rather than eating less or exercising more, Le believes the key to health is eating like your ancestors. He champions traditional diets and argues that we should be looking to our genetic and cultural history when deciding what to eat.

Forget foodie fads and so-called superfoods, Le suggests we should be consuming the simple fare of our great-great-great-great-grandparents, whether that’s meat and potatoes or vegetables with rice. So instead of asking for the latest healthy cookery book, it might be worth taking a look at your grandparents’ cookbook and making the recipes handed down to them over the years.

Eat Like Your Ancestors? Not Me!

Perdue’s Harvestland brand, best known for its chicken products sold in grocery stores, used to have an advertising campaign entitled “Eat Like Your Ancestors.” The campaign featured vintage-appearing photography and promoted the antibiotic-free brand that promised to provide all-natural food.

Harvestland, launched in 2006, is the number-one brand of antibiotic-free chicken in the U.S., and the brand’s other lines (which also include certified organic chicken products) are also seeing strong growth, according to Perdue.

Whisky & Haggis Crisps

Click on the above image to view a larger version.

This is a follow-up to the description of haggis, neeps and tatties that I published a few days ago at Today, I discovered that MacKie’s of Scotland also sells Ridge Cut Whisky & Haggis Potato Crisps (that’s potato chips to Americans) as well as Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper Crisps. Is nothing sacred? Haggis potato chips… er, crisps?

I assumed these crisps are available in the U.K. but was surprised to learn that Americans can purchase MacKie’s Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper Crisps from Amazon although at a high price: $49.99 for a pack of 12 5.3-ounce bags. There is no mention on Amazon of the Whisky & Haggis Potato Crisps, however.

You are Invited to the EOGN Dinner after the NGS Conference in Richmond!

I would like to invite you to a dinner for this newsletter’s readers, their guests, and other genealogists, to be held at 7:30 PM Eastern Time in Richmond, Virginia on Saturday evening, May 10. That will be a few hours after the close of the annual conference of the National Genealogical Society. Everyone is invited! However, you must obtain a ticket in advance in order to attend.

Click on the image to view a much larger version

Tickets are now available at