Tasting History: Where Food and Knowledge Meet
In February of 2020, Max Miller started the YouTube show Tasting History with Max Miller. It soon became an internet sensation. And Max an almost overnight success. I didn’t find Tasting History until a year ago when it popped up in my YouTube feed and what a delight this show is. If you are a Food Network fan, you will understand that Tasting History is a solid mix of Alton Browns Good Eats and The Two Fat Ladies. It’s a brilliant show that takes a recipe from long ago, gives you the history of the dish, and then shows you how to make it. A few of my favorite episodes are Pompion Pie the forerunner of our pumpkin pie, Gingerbread, and Soul Cakes.
Max Didn’t start out life as a cook or a chef. It was on a trip to Disney World with a friend, where he got stuck in the hotel as his friend got sick. They binge-watched early episodes of the Great British Baking Show with the original hosts and format. This format occasionally gave some history to the food the contestants were preparing. Max got hooked and began to become his own home cooking master. Just before Covid hit, he began his show Tasting History with Max Miller. After Covid hit Max got furloughed from his job but his show really took off. Everyone was home, and everyone was cooking. His show soared in popularity and a YouTube legend was born.
I have to admit that I am a bit of a snob. YouTube shows seemed to be about well-to-do young people showing off their swag. I liked the clips of old movies and TV shows and seeing the inside of the rehearsal rooms for Broadway shows but beyond that I felt YouTube had very little of interest to me; Max changed that.
I love Tasting History. I have yet to actually cook from his show, but I will soon. The recipes, though truly ancient at times, he has made clear and adapted for a modern kitchen. His history lessons are spot on. In anticipation of the crowning of King Charles, Max did a show on Coronation Chicken, a dish that was served at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. It looked delicious and fairly simple to make. While preparing the dish, he gave us quite the history of English coronation Banquets.
His show is run once a week and releases on Tuesdays. Anyone who loves good cooking and wonderful stories will love this show. And to top it off Max has just released his first cookbook called Appropriately Tasting History by Max Miller with Ann Volkien. This book has 4000 years’ worth of recipes. I know this because it says so on the cover. The book is divided into five sections. The Ancient World, The British Isles, Continental Europe, The Near and Far East and The New World.
Each recipe in the book has a history lesson on the particular dish and the time it was prepared. The Recipe follows the history. The recipes are clear and easy to understand. Some of the ingredients may be not what you normally find in your pantry, but most of the more exotic ingredients, if not all, can be found for purchase via the Internet.
Personally, I have found purchasing ingredients on the internet to be easy. Mary Berry, the British equivalent to Julia Child or Rachel Ray, made gingerbread from stem ginger. I had no idea what stem ginger was, but I found it easily accessible with an Internet search.
Max’s book is fun, and entertaining and I can’t wait to dive in and try some of the recipes here. There’s an ancient Lamb Stew, a British mead, a European Beef with Garlic Harvester Sauce (The recipe is specifically from Transylvania), Little Meat Cakes from China, and from The New World, an amazing recipe for Egg Nog. I know this one will be good as I saw him make it on the show.
This is really a great cookbook and a lot of fun. I can see it being used as a reference book or even the basis of school projects. The more we get to know about ancient and surrounding cultures, the more we come together and bond as the one big world family we truly are and food always speaks for us.
If you have yet to watch Max on YouTube, I highly recommend him. If you have watched him, then you know how good he is so get out there and buy those cookbooks. You’ll be glad you did.