The SaltThe Salt

What's On Your Plate

A late 19th-century samovar made in Tula, Russia, a metalworking town south of Moscow. The very first samovar factory opened in Tula in 1778. As demand for samovars grew, the town became almost synonymous with the production of the giant hot-water urns. Sheldon Luskin Collection/The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis hide caption

itoggle caption Sheldon Luskin Collection/The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis

Nat Bradford holds a Bradford watermelon, known for its sweet, fragrant red flesh. The melon was created by Bradford's forefathers around 1840 and was once one of the most important and coveted melons of the South. Heather Grilliot/Courtesy of Bradford Watermelons hide caption

itoggle caption Heather Grilliot/Courtesy of Bradford Watermelons

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American GIs line up in the street in Troina, Sicily, utensils and dishes in hand, as they wait for a meal from a large pot, July 1943. Oregano grows abundantly in Southern Italy, where many GIs encountered the herb for the first time, and fell in love. Many brought the craving back home with them after the war. U.S. Army/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption U.S. Army/Getty Images

A view inside the Kern's Kitchen factory in Louisville, Ky. Though lots of people in Kentucky have their own versions of what they call "derby pie," the Kern family trademarked the name "Derby-Pie" decades ago. And the Kerns are quite vigilant about protecting that brand name. Nina Feldman for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Nina Feldman for NPR

Jackson Pollock cooks with his wife, the artist Lee Krasner, and his mother, Stella Pollock, in the kitchen of his home in Springs, in East Hampton, N.Y., 1950. Courtesy Pollock‑Krasner House and Study Center hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Pollock‑Krasner House and Study Center

In the Fortune Garden kitchen in El Centro, Calif., near the Mexican border, cooks speak to each other in Cantonese, and waiters give orders in Spanish. Courtesy of Vickie Ly/KQED hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Vickie Ly/KQED

A Hindu servant serves tea to a European colonial woman in the early 20th century. The British habit of adding tea to sugar wasn't merely a matter of taste: It also helped steer the course of history. Underwood & Underwood/Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

Matzo ball soup with dill. Matzo represents the unleavened bread the Jews ate while fleeing Egypt. Jessica and Lon Binder/Flickr hide caption

itoggle caption Jessica and Lon Binder/Flickr

A rabbi (center) supervises the production of Passover matzos at the Streit's factory on New York's Lower East Side, circa 1960s. This Passover will be Streit's last one at the landmark location. AP hide caption

itoggle caption AP

A vintage postcard (circa 1930-1945) shows the HoJo's on U.S. Alternate Route I, in Fredericksburg, Va. Boston Public Library/Flickr hide caption

itoggle caption Boston Public Library/Flickr

"This lamb ham is sweet, buttery and smoky, with just a hint of lamb flavor," says Sam Edwards, one of the Virginians who is bringing back the colonial style of curing lamb. Courtesy of Sammy Edwards hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Sammy Edwards

A Palestinian Bedouin girl milks a sheep in her family's makeshift camp in the West Bank. Herders live close to their animals, their main source of income. Emily Harris/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Emily Harris/NPR

Vanilla is seemingly a prima donna spice because its pods have to be hand-pollinated and then boiled and dried in the direct sun for only one hour. iStockphoto hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto

A sampling of the multicourse menu served at the Gout de France dinner at the French embassy in Washington, D.C.: (clockwise from top left): seasonal vegetables with winter truffle Bayonne ham crisps; slowly cooked monkfish with fennel pollen flavors in "Armoricaine" sauce; Ariane apple and Guanaja chocolate onctueux; Saint-Nectaire cheese and grilled bread with nuts and raisins. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Pig farmer Armando Escaño stands with his Iberian pigs on his farm on western Spain's dehesa. Escaño raises pigs for jamón ibérico, Spain's most prized ham. Lauren Frayer for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lauren Frayer for NPR