Cooking in the 1700s with Daniel Hunter


Erin Choi

Social Studies teacher Daniel Hunter extends his appreciation for American history by learning about colonial period recipes and trying them out.

Simrat Singh and Erin Choi

Several students in his classes profess that Social Studies Teacher Daniel Hunter has an interesting practice of watching “Medieval cooking videos.”Upon further investigation, we discovered he enjoys a specific 1700s cooking channel on YouTube named “Townsends,” which keeps true to culinary tradition in colonial America and recreates old-time recipes with authentic kitchen tools of the time period. Dishes include open-fire shrimp, old-time fried chicken and even coffee eggs. We sat down with Mr. Hunter to learn more about what inspired him to start watching these shows and what recipes he personally likes.

1. How did you start watching 1700s cooking shows?

I like history. I’m a history teacher, and I watched a lot of history videos on YouTube, and I had no idea that there was even a 1700s cooking show that existed, but YouTube’s algorithm suggested [Townsends] to me. I watched it, and I got hooked. 

2.Have you ever attempted any of the recipes?

I watched several videos until I saw one that I thought was simple enough that I could go try without too many issues. Like a baked onion, which is not something you would normally think about baking the same way you would a potato, but in fact turns out quite good. Fried chicken is another recipe that I tried that’s tasty. The host in the show uses real 1700s kitchen utensils and all these kinds of implements that I don’t have. But interestingly, a lot of the recipes are not that different from some of the foods that we eat today. 

3. What is your favorite recipe?

The one I cook the most, which is just honestly the easiest one to make, is the baked onion. So you just bake the onion for half an hour on 375, and caramelise the onion, make it a little bit sweet, and then peel it out of its skin into a bowl. And you put some butter and salt and any other little herbs that you want, then mix it around. It’s super tasty and easy.

4. Why do you continue to watch these videos? 

I think that in our modern day and age, I feel like we’re very disconnected from a lot of the things that we did. The food that we make is from a grocery store. Sometimes we don’t even buy food to cook; we just buy a premade package. [Watching these videos], you get back to a better understanding of how your food is made and where it comes from, and you just feel a little bit more connected than we are in our current age.