Cynthia Bertelsen

An avid cook and cookbook collector, Cynthia D. Bertelsen is a food historian, photographer, and compulsive writer now settled in Gainesville, Florida. She has written seven books: “A Hastiness of Cooks”: A Handbook for Deciphering Historic Recipes and Cookbooks; In the Shadow of Ravens: A Novel; Wisdom Soaked in Palm Oil: Journeying Through the Food and Flavors of Africa; Meatballs & Lefse: Memories Recipes from a Scandinavian-American Farming Life; Stoves & Suitcases: Searching for Home in the World’s Kitchens; and the Take a Goose or a Duck: Eclectic Essays on English Cookery Through the Ages. She lived and worked long-term in Mexico, Paraguay, Honduras, Haiti, Morocco, and Burkina Faso. Her book, Mushroom: A Global History, appeared in 2013, published by Reaktion Books UK. Cynthia’s articles and book reviews have appeared in several well-known food-studies encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers, including Gastronomica and The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink (2nd edition). In 2011, she won a Julia Child Independent Scholar grant from the International Association of Culinary Professionals to study the impact of France’s colonial heritage on the future of French cuisine. For more of Cynthia’s writing, read her blog “Gherkins and Tomatoes” (, brimming with in-depth analyses of cooking, cookbooks, and food history. Cynthia earned advanced degrees in history, human nutrition and foods, and library science. She also attended a few classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Special subjects

History of food, drink, and cooking - mostly American and European, but also African.

Languages spoken

French; Spanish; some Guaraní; some Haitian Creole; reading ability Latin, Italian, and Portuguese

Regular work

Retired - worked as a nutritionist, project manager for international aid projects, Peace Corps trainer, and others.

Advisory boards / Awards

* IACP Julia Child Independent Scholar award 2011 * Best in the World in Culinary History 2020, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards * Best in the World in Food Writing 2022, Gourmand World Cook Awards * Finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, 2021 *President's Medal, Cookbook, Florida Authors and Publishers Association *President's Medal, General Nonfiction, Florida Authors and Publishers Association

Commercial interests


Cynthia Bertelsen