May 24, 2022 • 29M

EP 41: Brothers in Spoons: Odd Intersections of Food, Military, and War

Open in playerListen on);
Food lovers, Kim Baker and Leigh Olson, invite you on a storytelling journey exploring food memories, family recipes, food traditions, cuisines, cookery, and food history to discover how food connects, defines, and inspires us.
Episode details

In today’s As We Eat episode, Leigh and Kim explore how the realms of food and military intersect, both in times of war and in times of peace. From ration cards on the homefront to ceremonial cauldrons wielded by the Janissary Corps in the Ottoman Empire, the power of food affects how we grow, prepare, eat, and organize our military.

An eager school boy gets his first experience in using War Ration Book Two. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

The Influences of Conflict on Food and Vice Versa

A “Kitchen Table” discussion held by members of the Oxford Food Symposium inspired our discussion today on how food influences military operations (and vice versa!) with a hard look at food rationing on the home-front in World War II and the story of an elite army corps that fashioned its ranks, uniform, and even their regimental symbol upon the kitchen.

Janissary Corps - elite soldiers of the Ottoman Empire whose regiments rallied around a bronze kazan (ceremonial cauldron) in a reflection of the value that food plays in a soldier’s life

Leigh takes us through some of her own family history as she examines the ration card that her mother’s family used in World War II, and together Leigh and Kim talk about family cooking traditions, such as the ever-present “grease jar” that persisted in our home long past those days of conflict.

The ever-preset bacon fat jar which still graces many a kitchen today. A vestige of the propaganda of WWII.

Kim shares the history of the Janissary Corps -  infamous army of the 14th - 18th Century Ottoman Empire whose identity is fashioned after the hierarchy of the kitchen, from uniforms to ranks to ceremonial rations from the Sultan’s kitchen. This example is offered in contrast to Chef August Escoffier’s 19th Century “Brigade de Cuisine” hierarchy developed from Escoffier’s own experience as Chef de Cuisine of the Rhine Army still commonly deployed in haute cuisine kitchens.

A Janissary in his uniform. Very often spoons were placed in the brim of the headpiece which signified of the Brotherhood of the Spoon.

Leave a comment

Episode Transcript

🎧 Click here for the full, interactive transcript of this episode 🎧

Sources We Found Helpful for this Episode 

Books We Think You’ll  Enjoy Reading

Episodes We Think You’ll Like

Join us in two weeks as we explore our newest national holiday, Juneteenth and the impact of African American culture on American cuisine.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, we would love to have you join our supporting subscribers. For just a few dollars, you can get access to exclusive content, including the Recipe Box Roulette “card game”, more in-depth articles, and recipes. You’ll also help keep our oven lights on!

We would love to connect with you, on Instagram @asweeat, join our new As We Eat community on Facebook, or subscribe to the As We Eat Journal.

Do you have a great idea 💡 for a show topic, a recipe 🥘 that you want to share, or just say “hi”👋🏻?  Send us an email at

Review As We Eat on Podchaser or Apple Podcast. We would like to know what you think.

And please subscribe to As We Eat, Going Places. Eric and Leigh will be traveling in their converted van sharing stories of food culture from the road.

👉🏻As We Eat, Going Places 👈🏻

Thank you for listening to the As We Eat Podcast. This post is public so share it with a friend - or three :)


As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, we earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps us to continue to bring you stories, history, and personal musings about food, cuisines, traditions, and recipes