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 Arts & Culture Issue 45 Yoga with Adriene The internet’s best friend is—finally—finding her own flow. Arts & Culture Garden Issue 45 Piet Oudolf The Dutch designer bringing life—and death—to traditional gardens. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Thomas MacDonell The conservationist transforming the Highlands. Arts & Culture Design Issue 45 The New Craftsmen From the Outer Hebrides to central London, Catherine Lock is celebrating the crafts heritage of Great Britain. Arts & Culture Music Issue 45 Gerard & Kelly On dance, domesticity and the giants of modernism. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Hang in There How to make the best of a bad job.