Chefs are scouring cookbooks that are hundreds or even thousands of years old in a bid to re-introduce the foods of yore, which are unprocessed, made with seasonal ingredients, and new to modern eaters. Examples of "historic gastronomy," as some are calling it, include a spiced pigeon from a 1780 recipe served at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London; and a 10-course dinner at Pensiero in Evanston, Ill., based on Roman recipes from the 4th and 5th centuries.
Chef Rick Bayless sees his turn at preparing a state dinner at the White House as a chance to break stereotypes and serve authentic Mexican food, in all its richness and diversity. "I have a small pulpit to talk about the incredible variety of Mexican food," Bayless says. "It's a special moment for me and a special moment for Mexican food."
Japan Traditional Foods has introduced Megumi Natto, a fermented soybean product that is being sold for about $3 for 3 ounces. Owner Minami Satoh said he wants "people to appreciate how deep Japanese cuisine is," but the slimy, pungent food may be tough to sell in America.
Ludo Lefebvre, the chef behind the pop-up restaurant phenomenon LudoBites, is described as a "tortured artist" by his wife, Krissy Lefebvre, the organizer and marketer behind the operation. His restaurant, which could be in a bakery one time and an art gallery the next, serves inventive fare such as chocolate foie gras cupcakes.