It’s become a trope in American movies: A concerned friend will turn up on the doorstep of the grieving or recently heartbroken protagonist with a homemade casserole. Often you won’t see the food being cooked or eaten. It is enough just to see the foil-covered rectangular glass or ceramic baking dish, a universally recognizable symbol (at least in the US) of compassion and community. The history of how casseroles became the definitive American comfort food is also the history of the country in the first half of the 20th century. The dish—which was originally defined as a combination of vegetables, starch and meat—became a useful way of stretching limited resources during the privations of two world wars and the Great Depression. But it is also a story of American technical innovation and industrialization: Pyrex, the heat-resistant glass, was first used for cooking in This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Three Buy Now Related Stories Food Issue 49 Andy Baraghani Out of the kitchen, and onto your plates, shelves and screens. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Karin Mamma Andersson Inside the moody, mysterious world of Sweden’s preeminent painter. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Jenny Odell The acclaimed author in search of lost time. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Amalie Smith The Danish arts writer finding clarity between the lines. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Ryan Heffington Meet the man bringing choreography, community and queer joy to the desert. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Nell Wulfhart Advice from a decision coach.