Lovers of history and food will also love this book.

Pass The Pandowdy PleaseDo you like food? How about history? As a lover of both, I found Pass The Pandowdy, Please, to be absolutely fascinating. It’s a book that will entertain both adults and children, and I can’t wait to share it with my grandsons.

The subtitle tells it well: Chewing on History with Famous Folks and Their Fabulous Foods. This book, published by Tilbury House in Thomaston, takes us on a romp through history, looking at what famous people ate, and telling us why. Abby Zelz wrote the stories while her husband Eric Zelz did the art.

Pass The Pandowdy Please Cleopatra

Imagine dining with Cleopatra. You’ll have to be prepared to eat with your fingers, as she did. They didn’t have utensils at that time. That’s my kind of eating!

Each chapter includes wonderful art by Eric, and a description of the food enjoyed by historical figures, along with a sidebar written in the words of the figure. For example, Cleopatra’s piece is headlined “I Look Marvelous!” And why not, given her fabulous lipstick made from crushed beetles and ants!

I wouldn’t have enjoyed sailing the ocean with Christopher Columbus, where the lack of fresh food made many sick with scurvy, a particularly nasty disease.

Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II introduced chocolate, something Spaniards had never had. As the title of his personal story notes: Everything Goes Better With Chocolate! Alas, I learned that Moctezuma “had all the chocolate I could drink, while others around me didn’t get any. Chocolate drinks were only for special people like me!”

Did you know that George Washington ruined his teeth by cracking walnuts with them. He owned several sets of dentures, and had to speak carefully because it was difficult keeping his spring-loaded teeth in place.

I guess I wouldn’t have enjoyed hanging out with Napoleon. He preferred to eat alone. And after his servants delivered his food to his room, he ate it all at once, in no particular order. Well, I do sometimes like to eat my dessert first!

Pass The Pandowdy Please Abe Lincoln

Abe Lincoln would have loved my house, where our apple trees were loaded this year. Abe loved apples, but was not a great eater. Sometimes he got so preoccupied with his job that he forgot to eat. That has never happened to me!

While I certainly admire Mahatma Gandhi, I could not have joined his food group. He didn’t eat meat, and discouraged eating more than necessary. And he preferred raw foods because it took less energy to prepare.

I got a kick out of what astronaut Neil Armstrong ate in space, and Babe Ruth’s amazing appetite. He actually ended up in the hospital once, in great discomfort from over-eating.

At the end of the book, Abby gives us brief and interesting stories about each historical character.

Abby has worked in history museums and contributed to historical and educational publications. Eric has been drawing and painting for many years. They live in Bangor and, like Linda and me, enjoy history, food, and travel.

They did a great job with this imaginative and entertaining story.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.