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Food historian Rae Katherine Eighmey’s recent book, “Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times,” looks at what foods Abraham Lincoln and his family might have eaten at home in Springfield, Ill., and in the White House.

During Lincoln’s 35-year political career, outdoor barbecues were a standard feature of campaigns, rallies and picnics. They featured slow-cooked molasses-infused chicken thighs, short biscuits and other meats such as bear, venison, wild turkey and duck and laced with whiskey, which made up burgoo stew.

“Even though these barbecue meats were not dripping with sauce,” she writes, and she wondered how people ate them in the era before paper plates and napkins.

She found the answer in an 1858 news account of a July 4th barbecue in the Daily Illinois State Journal.

There were no plates or silverware, and “the meat was eaten out of hand with chunks torn from large loaves of yeast bread that were one part plate, one part napkin, and one part meal,” she writes.

—Fred Rasmussen

Read more about Lincoln and his food in Fred’s last “Back Story.”