Meet Francine Segan

June 08, 2022

Square – Francine Segan

Video Transcript

Speakers: Francine Segan, Context Expert

Francine Segan: Hello, I'm Francine Segan. I was born in New York City and I'm a food historian.

Where is the best place to conduct research on Food History?

Francine Segan: A food historian researches food the old fashioned way – in a library. There are libraries that house cookbooks that date back centuries. One of my favorites is the New York Academy of Medicine. Why would New York Academy of Medicine have cookbooks, you ask? Good question. It's because back before this century, cookbooks were filled with remedies – they didn't have a drug store on every corner. And so you needed to make your own medicine and salves. One of my favorites was a recipe for how to cure deafness by using a roasted onion. And I thought how could you do that? And so I asked an Eye Ear and Nose Doctor Why? And she said, well there's an enzyme in a roasted onion that will remove built up earwax. And in the past they thought they were going deaf when it was really just earwax.

In your opinion, what’s one ingredient that changed the course of Food History?

Francine Segan: So many foods have changed history salt, which allowed people to preserve food. Bread, potatoes, corn, tea – think of the Boston Tea Party. Many, many, many.

Your first book taught us about the food & dining customs of Shakespeare's time. What sparked your idea for the book?

Francine Segan: One day my son came home from school, he had just started learning Shakespeare. And he said, "Mom it's so difficult to relate. What can I do to think of a way to connect better?" And so then he asked a very simple question, "What do you think Shakespeare had for dinner?" I thought it was such a great question. I did a little research so that the next day after school I could prepare an Elizabethan feast. And he and his sister and my husband loved it so much. I did more and more research – and then "Shakespeare's Kitchen" was born.

What’s your favorite seminar to teach #withContext?

Francine Segan: Which is my favorite Context Travel seminar? It's like asking a mom which is her favorite child. I teach 23 different seminars for Context Travel. Everything from "Savoring Sicily: 2,000 years of History in 100 Dishes" to a talk on Jewish Italy, the food, sites, and culture. As well as talks about coffee and chocolate – so many. I don't have a favorite. I love them all, but what I love especially, is lecturing to you the Context Travel audience. You guys ask the best questions. I often incorporate your questions into talks when I change them for the next time I give it. I love your curiosity. I love your enthusiasm. Thank you so much for tuning in and I look forward to seeing you for my next talk.

Produced with Vocal Video