Do 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.
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!
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.