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 47 Alice Sheppard On dance as a channel to commune with the body—even when it hurts. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Dr. Woo Meet the tattoo artist who's inked LA. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Walt Odets The author and clinical psychologist on why self-acceptance is the key to a gay man's well-being. Arts & Culture Fashion Issue 47 A Picture of Health Xiaopeng Yuan photographs the world’s weirdest wellness cures. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Chani Nicholas and Sonya Passi Inside the astrology company on a mission to prove workplace well-being is more than a corporate tagline. Arts & Culture Issue 47 Julia Bainbridge On the life-enhancing potential of not drinking alcohol.