Last Updated October 27, 2010
Welcome to Editor's Notebook and the world of food history. Here is where we post all the information that goes stale quickly in print. Come back weekly (at least). Here, too, you can read about your fellow subscribers to FHN. Be sure to page down for our conversations from the past two or so months. There are book comments at the bottom. If you have something to tell about, click on "Contact Us" above or right here at firstname.lastname@example.org. I like hearing from you! Cheers -- Sandy Oliver.
October 27, 2010
In this issue: Verjuice. Guide to Culinary Colleges and Historical foodies. Good Maine Food. Weather Report.
Verjuice, the juice of green, i.e. unripe, grapes, widely used in earlier times to sharpen the flavor of savory dishes, gets its own article in the New York Times today. John Willoughby writes that it has a gentle tartness, not as competitive as lemon juice which is what most of us use these days. Actually early cook books (Medieval, Renaissance, Jacobean, and into the early seventeenth century) show a proclivity for sourness, supplied not just by verjuice but by cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, juice from crab apples, or gooseberries. In fact, most moderns don't like so much sourness. How about verjuice to deglaze a pan after sautéeing fish or chicken, suggests Willoughby. Another good idea from the past recycled.
Culinary Colleges, dot org., as comprehensive a guide as Chef Cindy Cullen can manage, lists schools by state with links and descriptions of the program each offers. For someone who doesn't know that much about culinary education of the technical sort, the list looks pretty solid to me. In my nerdy little heart, I wish each of them invited the likes of us food historians to give a talk to each class of chefs/cooks aspirant. I think everyone ought to know the history of their profession, professional cooks included. Their work would be enriched by knowing the history of evolving cookery technology, the methods of researching historic recipes.
Historical foodies are featured on the Culinary Colleges blog page. They qualify ten, among them are Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, and even Andy Warhol's sweet tooth. It is a fun idea. Some are a stretch, of course.
Good Maine Food was written by Marjorie Mosser, the niece and secretary of historic novelist Kenneth Roberts, author of rousing tales like Arundel, Rabble in Arms, and Trending into Maine. The latter volume included one chapter on the traditional foods of Maine and apparently unleashed a colossal pile of reader food memories. Roberts concluded it would be a good idea if Marjorie captured these in a cookbook, and so in 1939, Good Maine Food appeared. Roberts and Mosser had bigger ideas for the book, and as the book was reprinted, Mosser included more recipes, eventually exceeding the borders of Maine by quite a lot (there are burgoo, jambalaya, scrapple and all kinds of dishes from Away which Maine is surrounded by.) Goodness knows there ae plenty of truly traditional Maine dishes in G.M.F. and a whacking big section on game and fowl cookery for the sports minded.
This past year Down East Books reprinted this one and also Marjorie Standish's Cooking Down East (a personal favorite) and they asked me to write a new foreword, and some historical commentary, which I happily did for them. Chef Melissa Kelly of Primo in Rockland did the same thing for the Standish book, and included some of her own recipes in it, too. The books were launched last week in Portland at the Danforth Inn. Lots of folks came by, ate Melissa's cooking and listened to my rap on the two books.
Our friend and island neighbor, Craig Olson at Artisan Books and Bindery has copies of both that you can acquire.
Weather report. If you visit this site regularly and noticed that the Editor's Notebook never changed for five months, you may have concluded that I fell off the face of the earth. In fact, I fell onto the face of the earth: since May, I have largely been a market gardener. Jamie expanded our garden by 6500 square feet (added to 2000 we already had) and suddenly there was too much to do, and only we to do it,with a little help here and there. So for seven straight weeks, I worked on my hands and knees at planting, transplanting, thinning, harvesting, mulching, weeding, and and when I stood up, I worked at building a customer base.
While it settled down a little in mid-July, I still needed at least two days a week to do garden work, and managed only to meet the absolute necessary deadlines, gave a few talks in Maine, and then in August and September came the vegetable deluge and weeding was replaced by frantic picking, vegetable delivering, pickle making, and freezing, together with one trip to a symposium on baking and another at Monticello on vegetables in the early American diet.
A light frost on October 18 slowed things down enough that this past week I feel a bit like I am moving towards normality. Market gardening was what I longed to do thirty years ago when I was in my early thirties. It has enormous satisfactions and our garden is a thing of great beauty and productivity. It was a great joy to put high quality food into the hands of people who appreciate it. Not very profitable, however. What happens next year is still a question.
May 20, 2010
In this issue: Musuem Directory worth a visit. Fast food history. Family food history. Marian Walke. Unlikely places for food history reference. RI Mill and Jonnycake meal.
The Museum Directory on this website is the best thing you will find here. This searchable database now contains over 1400 !!! museums and exhibitions around the world. No matter where you might travel and what kind of food or cookery-connected collection you might be interested in you can at least look it up and see what there is to see. There are a fairy number of pretty quirky things like a Tupperware Museum, mustard collection, and so on, but there are also dozens of operating mills, and France is loaded with wine museums. Check it out before you go anywhere. Many thanks to Shirley Cherkasky, Alexandria, VA, who compiled the information with help of a network of friends around the globe. And also thanks to her for her patience with me making time to get the stuff up, and then her careful copy editing.
Fast food history is one we all share to some extent or other. I figured out long ago that if I wanted to write about something of interest to nearly any American I had to write about Twinkies, hamburgers, or Coke. No matter the ethnic group, region, age, and even social class of any individual, the common ground was widely available commercial products. Sure enough, on the web there are a fair number of bytes dedicated to the topic. Here is another, actually a cut above the average: a fun pictorial tour of early MacDonald's restaurants. It is hard to believe they have been around nearly as long as I personally have been.
Elsewhere on the site are some clicks to other popular foods. I checked out the cupcake one, ground my teeth when I read "When baking was done in hearth ovens, it would take a long time to bake a cake, and the final product would often be burned." WHUT!?! Such colossal crap. But then the rest of the story isn't too far off the mark, the shift Americans made from weighing ingredients to using cups, the confusion about cup cakes having been baked in cups or not.
Family food history seems to crop up frequently. Here is another story about exploring one's family history via family recipe collections. Texan Dawn Orsak told Addie Broyles, reported for the Cox Newspapers, "Cookbooks, old food magazines, and recipe boxes are like historical time capsules," as indeed they are. Even though I hardly want to dedicate my life to being a curator of family cookery collections, my heart breaks a little when I see an estate or yard sale with old printed cookbooks, while the manuscript ones are gone, missing. I know the family picked up the piles and heaved them out, and I understand why they would, but there is gold in them thar drawers, recipes with relatives names attached, personal notes on success, flavor, and preference.
Marian Walke, a long-time and early subscriber to Food History News, and a valued Boston area colleague died this week, and the Culinary Historians in Boston are mourning her loss. Marian was passionately interested in medieval food, and attended the Society for Creative Anachronism's annual Pennsic Wars and other SCA events where for some time she ran a food stand, and did baking. Her bread was truly marvelous.
This is a particularly sad turn of events because she and Bonnie Feinberg have just completed a cookbook memoir entitled War Fare: A collection of recipes and remembrances from The Sated Tyger Inn and Battlefield Bakery, two famous food purveyors at the Pennsic Wars of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is ready to be printed. It is a fun read, full of terrific illustrations of field ovens, food in the past, dishes made, and baked goods, and full of accessible recipes for all kinds of medieval dishes for modern people. Stay tuned and when it is available I will let you know.
Food history crops up in funny, unlikely places, something I learned long ago whn foioid history wasn't even a field of study. Sure enough, it holds true on the net. And here is a good example of information about Six Rivers region of Humboldt County, California. This is food in agricultural history, not that agriculture is an unusual source for food history but this site dedicated to global appropriate technology is not necessarily the first thing that springs to mind in the go-to for food history department. Still, here are crop lists for a span of years. Check it out.
Rhode Island grist mills grinding flint corn meal for jonnycakes warm the cockles of the Rhode Island heart. Historic cook John Cheney sent along this link to an article about Gray's Grist Mill.
April 28, 2010
In this issue: Jeri Quinzio's award. Food Reference and Today in Food History. A food history degree. Mill Pond Diner. East Knoll's yellow ware. Diana Kennedy and University of Texas. Jeffrey Pilcher and Food in World History.
Our own Jeri Quinzio walked off with the International Association of Culinary Professionals' award for Culinary History for Of Snow and Snow, a History of Ice Cream Making, available here. We are so happy for her because she worked long and diligently on this one.
FoodReference.com, self-billed a "an eccentric world of unique and fascinating food information" is in the genre of sites that provide fun facts and miscellaneous information for people who are curious but uninterested in delving deeply. I have to say it seems to be a cut above the usual. You can go there to read "Today in Food History" even though sometimes it is a stretch to find the connection, and learn that today is a national celebration of pistachio ice cream or the like. But then there is a humongous bibliography of good old and new stuff with the usual time bombs of pure awful here and there, too. Plus links and essays and news. Clearly consumers must beware, but you can let your guard down here a little more often than in many similar sites. Check it out here.
Mill Pond Diner sponsors the Today in History link in the Wareham, MA., on-line paper, Village Soup which is how I found FoodRef.com. They bill it as "a look at some of the historic things that took place in the gastrointestinal world on this date" (Yeeech, gastrointestinal?? Do they know what they are saying??? ) The Mill Pond Diner in Wareham turns out to be a pretty interesting place, and they have a video to watch which I got a charge out of. The diner was built in 1952 by the Jerry O'Mahoney Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey, so it is a genuine vintage item. Check it out.
How to get a Food History Degree? eHow claims to tell you, and at first, I thought, oh, cool, now I can just refer people to the eHow page and they can take it from there. And for sure some of the advice is good, but the plain fact is that there are real limits to the number of places where you can do this, and there is still no degree program in Food History that I know of. Food History is still, and frankly I hope continues to be, a concentration within a more encompassing degree program.
East Knoll Pottery makes lovely yellow ware. Reggie the Potter recently wrote to tell about herself and the products though I had known about the pottery for some time. She says, "I make bakeware, fireplace cookery and reenactors pottery, serving pieces and more. I sell at cooking schools, museum gift shops, and shows all over New England." She has been doing this for twenty years. Just check this out to see some of the products on-line.
Diana Kennedy, cookbook author,presents "Unknown Gastronomy of Mexico," tomorrow as part of the "Foodways of Mexico" speaker series. The event to be held on April 29, 6 to 7 p.m., is followed by a reception and book signing and will be at Blanton Auditorium, The Blanton Museum of Art (at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Congress Avenue) in Austin. Kennedy's latest book, Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy will be published in September 2010 by the University of Texas Press. For more information, contact: Jessica Sinn, College of Liberal Arts, ; Mexican Center, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, 512-232-2423.
Still to come is "Foodways of Mexico: Planet Taco: The Globalization of Mexican Cuisine" in September 2010 with Jeffrey Pilcher, who will speak about the history of the taco, the spread of Mexican food around the world, and the stereotypes of Mexicans it has carried with it.
Speaking of Jeffrey Pilcher, history professor at the University of Minnesota: He authored Food in World History, five years ago, which somehow got completely by me. It is one book in the Themes in World History series published by Routledge. It is available in paper, hardback, and electronic editions. Here is the table of contents:
Part 1: The Ingredients of Change 2. The Columbian Exchange 3. Sugar, Spice, and Blood 4. Nouvelles Cuisines 5. Moral and Political Economies Part 2: The Taste of Modernity 6. The Industrial Kitchen 7. Cuisine and Nation-Building 8. Empires of Food 9. Migrant Cuisines Part 3: The Global Palate 10. Guns and Butter 11. The Green Revolution 12. McDonaldization and its Discontents 13. Culinary Pluralism
Pilcher does good work, so this ought to be worthwhile.
Details: Food in World History, by Dr. Jeffrey Pilcher, 2005, ISBN: 978-0-415-31146-5 (paperback) 978-0-415-31145-8 (hardback) 978-0-203-97005-8 (electronic)] Here is the website.
April 22, 2010
In this issue: Anne Mendleson's Guggenheim. CHoNC and Fillipino Flavors. Food History and Culture in the West. ICREFH: CFP and program. Personal food history. Aprons and Canadians. Cornbread Nation 5
Our own Anne Mendelson has won a Guggenheim to study and write about the Chinese diaspora and American food . On her Facebook page she said, "Now the fun begins -- trying to map and investigate said topic." I really admire Anne for tackling a variety of topics - The book Joy of Cooking, milk, food in Dicken's writings, the Chinese diaspora…good heavens.
CHoNC (Culinary Historians of Northern California are holding their May meeting in conjunction with an event many of you might be interested in: the Asian Culinary Forum's 2010 Symposium Filipino Flavors: Tradition and Innovation. It is scheduled for May 15 thru 16 at at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of California, San Francisco. Check out the website Asian Culinary Forum.
The "Food: History and Culture in the West Conference" occurs a little earlier than the Asian forum all day on April 30, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. in Berkley. Sponsored by the European Union Center, the event will address the new interest in food writing, gourmet dining, and the slow food movement as examples of the quest for more healthy and sustainable ways of eating and drinking. The symposium will examine food movements in their social and cultural contexts from a comparative and historical perspective. Three panels will address food and identity, cultural practices around food, and the politics of food. Speakers include: Martin Jones, University of Cambridge, UK; Louis Grivetti, UC Davis; Melanie DuPuis, UC Santa Cruz; and Warren Belasco, University of Maryland. FMI 510-643-2115.
ICREFH, short for the International Commission for Research into European Food History is planning their biennial scheduled for September 2011 in Bologna. While the call for papers arrived in my email inbox this morning with a due date of April 15, I still figured you might want to put this event on your calendar and if you have a paper sitting around appropriate to the topic you may want to zap an abstract off to them pronto.
The topic is "The History of the European Food Industry in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century" and you are best off getting all the details at the website. The conference will be on September 13 thru 16, 2011
Personal food history crops up periodically in books written by modern American foodies. Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone leaps to mind, Calvin Trillan's, Alice, Let's Eat even though it is described as humor has food memoir in it. Kim Severson, a New York Times food writer, is a recent entrant with Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life. This is memoir with miscellaneous nuggets of food history and the inside story on critiquing restaurants. Read more.
Aprons will bedeck the Campbell House Museum in Toronto on May 8 when the Culinary Historians of Toronto have the event at 2 p.m. on May 8 at the Campbell House. Apron-Mania will feature they say, "glamorous 1950s hostess aprons to utilitarian kitchen covers." A costume historian will be on hand to comment, and participants are welcome to bring their own aprons to show. There will be refreshments and all that. Those Canadians really know how to have fun. For detail see the calendar of events.
I've taken up wearing very cheap chef's jackets in the kitchen and seldom wear a standard apron any more even though I love them and have several including some my mom owned. I must have made dozens as Christmas gifts for various aunties and last spring I made three little kid aprons for the Sewing Circle Fair. The good thing about the chef's jackets is that they cover completely and you can wash the beejeesus out of them. When one of them achieves an unmistakable patina of grease and stain, I wear it for butchering and then throw it out.
Cornbread Nation is the collection of the "Best Southern Food Writing" and issue number 5 is printed and available. Fred Sauceman edited this issue; he is known for his work on Appalachian foodways. The Southern Foodways Alliance and the University of Georgia teamed up for this and there will be no end of events associated with its release. Surely if you are it the South you can get to one. For more about this check out the website.
April 15, 2010
In this issue: Patriot's Day Menu. Food and family history vs historic family food. Smithsonian blog. Department of Back to the Future. Delis and The Lost Art of Real Cooking.
Patriot's Day is a peculiar holiday observed in Massachusetts and Maine which, we are sad to report, was actually part of Massachusetts until 1820. It marks the anniversary of the skirmish in Concord that is generally considered to be the start of the Revolutionary War. It is a pesky holiday, and only observed by banks, schools, and state offices. The postal Service, as a Federal institution, ignores it, so the check that was in the mail may arrive but you can't cash it. This page on eHow advises on how to celebrate the holiday, and one suggestion is "serve food popular in Colonial New England, such as fish chowder, baked beans and baked Indian pudding," which sounds like a nice idea-in other words enact our regional identity.
Then it goes on to say, "You'll find inspiration and recipes in Colonial- and Revolutionary-era histories and cookbooks." That left me scratching my head, because there are no Colonial or Revolutionary Era cookbooks to turn to because the first American cookbook, Amelia Simmons' American Cookery, was published in 1796, well past the two eras in question. It does have Indian pudding on page twenty-six of the Dover Reprint, the only one worth having, with the fine introduction by Mary Tolford Wilson.
If you are looking for chowder or baked beans, you'll need an even later cookbook, though Wilson says a chowder recipe was in print earlier, though she doesn't say where. Chances are very good that the wives of the men who gathered at the bridge on Concord didn't use written recipes for any of those dishes though I suspect many of the recipes published in the first few years of the 1800s probably reflected common practice dating to twenty to thirty years earlier.
Family history by way of food was taught this past week, informally, at the University of Texas by Dawn Orsak, who is past executive director of the Hill Country Wine and Food Festival. The class called "Recipes for Family History" suggested how to collect and keep information on family food preferences and memories. More people ought to do this. Combine the scrapbooking urge with a little oral history and benefit succeeding generations.
Another way to preserve family food history was described in this intriguing article, which I hope is factual, from a British tabloid. In this case, it is the food itself that is preserved. The article describes several Britons who cleaned out parents and grandparents dwelling after they died and found old foodstuffs: a seventy year old package of Bird's Egg Powder, a sixty-year old Easter egg, sixty-nine year old tea, and so on.
When my mom died in 1996, we found a jar of grape conserve from the 1970s, buy that was a mere youngster compared to some of the British stuff.
The Smithsonian Blog, Food and Think, has a piece on why Easter Bunnies are hollow. We have mentioned this fine blog before. It is worth the occasional visit.
In the Department of Back to the Future we have this article from the New York Times about Jewish delis attempting to honor the deli past and modern food sensibilities. Like obtaining locally brewed celery soda, hand-mashed local potatoes for knishes, and house made pastramis and beef salami. Vinegary dressings are replacing the mayo of potato salads and coleslaw, and, the paper reports, "It goes almost without saying that almost everybody is making their own pickles - not just dills and half-sours but green tomato…"
The traditional Jewish deli has been under siege lately and many have gone out of business. The so called "neo-retro" delis are the response to these loses and it means that deli owners are looking a traditional, artisanal, ways of preparing deli fare, so are looking to the past.
This is the urge behind a book called The Lost Art of Real Cooking co-authored by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger, scheduled for publication in July, which walks the willing through such processes as making cheese, salami, pastrami, sour doughs of all sorts, pork pies, sweet preserves and fermented vegetables and brewing beers and wine, even making your own phyllo dough! The recipes and instructions hearken to the past. Take a look at Ken's blog here for a sample of the sort of thing he inflicts on his household. Ken is one of the rare academics who has as much of a hands-on relationship to food history as a brains-on relationship. For his sausage making video, check this out.
Here is Rosanna's gorgeous blog, Paprika Head which has all kinds of neat, non-historical stuff on it.
April 7, 2010
In this issue: Vintage menus. Mrs. Henderson on-line. Faux's journal. Hot cross buns a little late. Gobs.
Vintage menus, both images and transcriptions, are on the web for your edification and enjoyment. Marty Martindale, Food Site of the Day, sent along this link from Gjenvik Gjonvik Archives of steamship records. Besides menus, the archive includes travel brochures, immigrant passenger lists, (useful for the genealogists among us). steamship post-card images, etc. Most of it is early to mid-20th century material. I adore the Children's Party menu from October 1, 1924 on the Aquitania. Wouldn't you just love to see the recipe for Good Girls' Cake or Good Boys' Cake?
Mrs. Henderson's Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving, 1876 is available here. I love this book. Mrs. H. did not bring a Temperance or any other kind of ax to grind. She admired formality, and you can learn all kinds of late 19th century ways to present food stylishly from the instructions and terrific illustrations. The book was reprinted several times and I own an early 1880s version which is practically crumbling apart because of high acid paper. Thanks to Stuart W. Miller, Library Systems Analyst, University of Chicago Library for sending us the link.
Faux's Memorable Days in America, 1823, by William Faux, a phony name in all likelihood, is available via Google Books, as well as in the Library of Congress American Memory on-line project, or in paper reprint from Applewood Books. Faux described himself as an English farmer, and he traveled though the U.S. of the 1820s describing farming techniques. His descriptions of slavery at that time need to be read critically, cautions Martha Katz-Hyman, an authority on material culture of 18th century Chesapeake and slave life. Some incidents and conditions may or may not be true. Faux does say a word or two about food, but is not as descriptive as some of us would like but the agricultural information is useful to food historians.
News on Hot Cross Buns is a week late but interestingly enough there is apparently a reference to HC buns by name in Boswell's Life of Johnson which you can read online here. There is a nice historic overview of Easter food by Hanna Raskin here at Slash Food.
Gobs, aka Whoopie Pies, got this treatment in a blog regularly read by my pal Bill Warren here on the island. Gobs are virtually identical to Whoopie Pies, but are called that only in Pennsylvania where, if I read the comments on the blog aright, people are as goofy about them there as they are in Maine.
April 1, 2010
In this issue: Will Weaver's Heirloom Gardening Workshop. Food History Course at Juniata College. Pennsylvania: a food history hot bed. Culinary Historians of Atlanta at Waffle Museum, revive blog. Culinary Historians of No. Calif. Blue Ribbon cookbook.
Will Weaver, famous for growing heirloom vegetables and indefatigable writer on food history and heirloom vegetables, is holding "Heirloom Gardening Workshops, a 3-Course Series," at his home in Pennsylvania co-taught with David Siller, in order to give you "Everything you need to know to launch your own kitchen garden." The workshop dates are all Saturdays, May 22, June 19, and July 17, 2010, from 9 AM to 3 PM.
According to information that Will provided:
"The 3-course series is intended to serve as a unit so that in each class you will cover new information. The dates were chosen so that you would be exposed to seasonality, different planting cycles, different aspects of seed saving, etc. Actual class material will vary depending on the weather and what Nature has provided this spring and summer. This flexibility is part of a successful heirloom gardening program."
The registration fee includes lunch basics (including organic vegetables, herbal teas, mineral water to which participant may add potluck items) plus handouts and data sheets. $175.00 per Class or $425.00 for the Package of 3 (Save $100 and Receive a Certificate) Space is Limited to 12, and pre-registration and payment is required; a ten day notice before cancellation needed for full refund.
Reserve by email to W3Food @aol.com or you can contact William Woys Weaver at Post Office Box 75, Devon, PA 19333.
Juniata College located in Huntingdon, PA, is offering a course called "History of Food," taught by Associate Professor James Tuten. Tuten designed the course, which according to an article on the school's website, "examines food as part of the human experience. Roles such as sustenance, commodity, cultural artifact, signifier of identity, and art are explored to give students the opportunity to analyze national cuisines and see how different cultures have used food as a national identifier. "It's finally being recognized that history is the study of what humans do, and food has been a huge part of that," says James Tuten."
Pennsylvania seems to be a veritable food history hot bed. Between Will Weaver and Drexel where he teaches, Tuten at Huntingdon, and the plethora of extraordinary hearth cooks in Pennsy like Clarissa Dillon, Susan Plaisted, Mercy Ingraham, Deborah Peterson and her pantry, and Past Masters, plus lots and lots of historic sites where hearth cooking is performed and taught, like Landis Valley's baking workshops led by Tom Martin and others--this is only stuff off the top of my head. But you can see why I think I really think that Pennsylvania is a great place to go if you want to look seriously at historic food.
The Culinary Historians of Atlanta plan to organize a 20-person field trip to visit the Waffle House Museum on April 11. The Waffle House Museum, located at 2719 East College Ave., in Decatur GA, is an original Waffle House, renovated to its original style, complete with signs and menus. Most people reading this will not be able to attend, but the museum has a website you can visit. Enjoy your stroll into the '50s.
The CHA also plan to revitalize their blog, and use the blog, email, and Facebook as a way to stay in touch as a group, as far as I can tell, the first such group to do so. Deb Duchon emailed to remind the group that a short report on their Historic Beer & Avant Garde Pizza night earlier this week, plus reports from many of our past events. CHofA member Terry Ward is new blog editor and members are encouraged to visit the site, plus click on ads. Deb wrote, "If we get enough ad-clicks we'll make a little money for our treasury. Go back often and click on those ads."
Culinary Historians of Northern California will hear Ariane Helou, a Ph.D. candidate in literature at UC Santa Cruz discuss "Performing the Renaissance Banquet: Feasting at the Este Court" on April 8, 2010, 5:30 pm at CSU East Bay, Oakland Center, 1000 Broadway, Suite 109, Oakland CA 94607 (entrance on 11th St.)
The Blue Ribbon Cookbook, 1922, by Jennie Benedict has been reprinted by the University Press of Kentucky. Benedict was born in 1860, died in 1928, and published several but is most famous for her Blue Ribbon Cook Book. I really like this article about the book. Meanwhile, here is all the information you need about the current book.
Back Issues: I still have a limited selection of back issues available but I wouldn't mind selling more of those if you can use them. Check out this list, print it out, tick off the ones you want and send a check for $1.50 for each one you order. Send to: Food History News, 1061 Main Rd., Islesboro, ME 04848.
FHN9 Recent Symposia, Boiled Puddings
March 25, 2010
In this issue: Last suppers. Smithsonian's Blog Food & Think. Indianapolis food history. Terrific events in the Bay area. CHOW to dine on Pre-Contact Foods. Blogs good and not. Beard Award nominees announced. Laura and Julia.
The Last Supper, the famous meal eaten by Jesus and the disciples before Christ was handed over to Roman authorities is commonly depicted in classic art through the centuries. A pair of brothers, Brian Wansink, a consumer behavior expert at Cornell University and Craig Wansink, a Presbyterian minister teaching at Virginia Wesleyan College, took a close look at a few centuries worth of Last Supper paintings and noted that portions increased. You can read about it here.
The Smithsonian's blog Food & Think leads with this Last Supper Story but page down and find all kinds of interesting food history stuff. A bit on whiskey, Iranian New Year meals, King Cakes, and Sally Lunn. Oh goody, another website to read and avoid work with.
Indianapolis explores its food history with an exhibit at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library's Nina Mason Pulliam Indianapolis Special Collections Room. It celebrates Indianapolis originals including Gatorade, Wonder Bread and Van Camp's Beans. The Indiana Humanities Council features this on their blog.
Two terrific events in the San Francisco Bay area:
"Food, Culture and Identity in a Global Society: A Conversation between Darra Goldstein and Barry Glassner" is scheduled for April 2 at noon at UC Berkeley. Darra is a Professor of Russian at Williams College and founding editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food. Barry is Professor of Sociology and Executive Vice Provost at the University of Southern California, and author of The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong (2007) They plan to talk about food and identity in both the US and abroad and ways in which food can be used to promote tolerance and diversity. This is a free event but participants must register by March 29. FMI calendar page.
Then "A Foodie's Mecca: Mapping San Francisco's Culinary Evolution." The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society sponsors this one about the impact of coffee, seafood, produce and place in creating the unique food mecca of San Francisco. This will be held APril 13, 7:30, at Kanbar Hall, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St at Presidio Ave., San Francisco, CA. The Program is free to current SFMHS members. Admission is $5 for non-members, which may be applied toward membership in the SFMHS. For more information, see http://www.sfhistory.org/newsletter/Current_eNews.html.
CHoW [Culinary Historians of Washington (DC)] will have their annual cooperative supper Sunday, April 11, at 4 p.m. and the theme is Indigenous Pre-Contact New World Foods. There is a huge list, by the way, and lots of familiar foods because so many common today are native to this hemisphere (potatoes, chocolate, tomatoes, etc. )
Blogs abound not just in food history but in the World. It is a real pleasure to bump into a fine one and Henry Voigt's "The American Menu" is one. Voight has a large personal collection of menus and writes about them interestingly and informatively. Check it out here. Up for discussion is Andersonville Beans on the menu of a Civil War veterens reunion menu, a game dinner at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Chicago in 1881, and the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Voight shows us the menus and provides a bit of excellent interpretation. Good stuff.
As opposed to this one which has a section that the author purports "to contain a significant amount of food history - as well as recipes." Tidbits of food history are tucked in here and may come from some reliable sources sometimes, but other times not so reliable, or non-cited ones. There is really no reason to turn to this blog for actual food history information - but the recipes look good.
James Beard book award nominees for the reference category include some really terrific work. One is Andy Coe's Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in America. Another is that knock-out Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita. The Larousse Gastronomique has a new revision this year and it has been nominated. I wish to goodness the Beards would have a separate culinary history category like the IACP awards have. The Larousse is a stupendous piece of work, and authoritative as all get out. How can even a very fine culinary history stand up to such a behemoth in a reference category?
Laura Shapiro has been out talking about Julia Child because she wrote a book about her. Julia Child: A Life. This link will take you to an article in the Worcester Telegram where you can read some of what Laura has to say, and what she has to say is, in my experience, worthwhile.
March 19, 2010
In this issue: Peanut Butter Invention and racism. IACP book award nominees. Whoopie Pies so far.
The "invention" of peanut butter could lead us down a slippery slope. I recently read where a discussion about the food history of America included the assertion that "John Harvey Kellogg was a Seventh-Day Adventist and a health fanatic, whose desire to serve his sanitarium patients wholesome, chewy, vegetarian foods led him to invent peanut butter, Corn Flakes, and a kind of granola." I thought, Kellogg? Peanut butter? Wasn't it George Washington Carver that invented peanut butter? Ooops. Neither of them!
And anyway, really, no one invents something like that-these inventions are almost always extensions, further developments, of other ideas. Humankind has been mashing nuts, grains and all kinds of things for centuries but turning peanuts into a smooth, spreadable paste and marketing the result as peanut butter might qualify as a conscious variety of invention--the sort of activity that can be patented, as apparently it was according to United State Patent No. 306,727 issued on Oct. 21, 1884 to Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec. Apparently in 1897 Kellogg received US patent #580787 for a "Process of Preparing Nutmeal," that he marketed as nut butter. Wikipedia also identifies George A. Bayle Jr., a businessman in 1890s St. Louis as an early marketer of pb.
Seldom does food history show an unsavory side, but in the story of pb, racism rears its ugly head. I encountered it simply by googling "peanut butter invention;" up came a site dedicating itself anonymously to debunking Black invention stories which included peanut butter and a few other things sometimes attributed incorrectly to Black American inventors. The facts, that is, patent numbers are provable, but in this case the disproof is used to bolster white racists' claims of superiority or at least to deny Black capacity for accomplishment. Nasty stuff and possibly why Wikipedia has posted this on their peanut butter entry: "Editing of this article by new or unregistered users is currently disabled until April 25, 2010 due to vandalism."
IACP award semi-finalists include our own Jeri Quinzio for Of Sugar and Snow, a History of Ice Cream, and also Richard Mendelson for From Demon to Darling: A Legal History of Wine Making in America. I admire both books very much. University of California Press published both of these and they are justifiable proud of the nominations. Other UC Press books were also nominated. The third in the Culinary History category is Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage by Louis Grivetti and Howard-Yana Shapiro, (and, largely unmentioned, Deanna Pucciarelli) published by John Wiley & Sons, which is too big and expensive for anyone except a library.
Under literary writing we find Bill Grimes, Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York, published by North Point Press/FSG. Usually contestants choose the category they wish to compete in.
The James Beard award nominees will be announced this weekend in New Orleans.
Whoopie pies have been an ongoing irritant for me for years now. These are (mostly commercial) pastries produced in Maine and, apparently, in homes in parts of Pennsylvania, consisting of two palm sized rounds of chocolate cake held together with an odious mixture of Crisco and confectioners' sugar or marshmallow filling. Both regions claim it and some in Maine would like it to be attributed to Maine for once and for all. There is a movement afoot here to declare W. Pies as Maine's Official Dessert. Personally I think that is a terrible idea. The Bangor Daily News, for which I write a weekly column held an online vote last week between W. Pies and blueberry pie. They also published a recipe, labeling it "Sandy Oliver's Whoopie Pies." that I had put in my column. The recipe came from a reader, probably and I found it humiliating to have my name attached to a dessert I dislike.
However, I decided that I have had it with W. Pie fiction, and have set about a fairly methodical tracking down of the earliest evidence I can find about the nasty little blobs. I will try to reveal my discoveries as I go along, and so far the only working theory I have is that they were concocted purposely by Berwick Baking Company to compete with Devil Dogs, also a chocolate pastry with white filling. No trade mark infringement if you change the shape and the recipe a little, I guess. Enroute, learned that Devil Dogs were probably so named because of the popularity of Devils Food Cake, a dark chocolate cake that was going head-to-head with Angel Food cake, the all egg-white raised confection we know today. There is more to know, however, about the companies making this and how the chocolate cakes compare to one another. Stay tuned.
March 10, 2010
In this issue: Cincinnati Chili. Tribute to Jacqueline Newman and a Celebration of Chinese Food in America. Food and Dining in the Hudson Valley.
Cincinnati Chili showed up on the food site Zester Daily. This fascinating dish, unique to Cincinnati, consists of a pile of spaghetti topped by chili, and cheese, and sometimes onions and other stuff. It is a fine example of a micro-regional dish, and it has a decades old history by now. Apparently developed by a pair of Greeks who ran an eatery, the dish still is found in diners, and small restaurants, and migrated into the home kitchen. The sauce consists of ground beef, seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and unsweetened chocolate in a beef and tomato base, and no beans. Some descriptions report that the seasonings are "unusual" and if you are thinking of a Tex-Mex style chili then yes, it would be. However, if you are conversant with late 19th century chili sauces, then the spicing wouldn't seem so odd.
I first encountered chili sauces in my research on late 19th century New England foodways. They are a fairly common relish cropping up in manuscript sources as well as imprints. Typically they are made with tomatoes, green peppers, and onions and are seasoned with cloves, cinnamon, sometimes ginger, red pepper, and/or allspice. They have sugar and vinegar and the whole is boiled until it is quite thick. I've made it, and it is a favorite at our house, suitable for use as one would use tomato ketchup. I love it on fishcakes, myself. It is not always spicy hot with capsicum, but, depending on the recipe, it is spicy and can be sharp with vinegar. By the early 20th century, this species of chili sauce was pretty common in most places in the North and Midwest.
Here is a pretty typical Chili Sauce which comes from the Cincinnati Cookbook, 1908, originally published by F. C. H. Manns Company, and reprinted by the University of Iowa Press in 1994, edited by David Schoonover, page 65.
A tribute to Dr. Jacqueline Newman who has studied and taught Chinese food history and cuisines during her long and distinguished career together with a panel presentation about Chinese food in America today is planned for March 23, :30 p.m., in New York, a joint effort of the Culinary Historians of New York and the Museum of Chinese in America. CHNY will present Dr. Newman their 2009 Amelia Award in honor of her lifetime achievement in food history. Jackie was one of the founders of CHNY.
The panel discussion, "Chinese Food in Today's America: Four Chinese-American New Yorkers' Perspectives," will feature Jessica Chien, pastry chef and food blogger; Jeffrey Chuang, illustrator and art designer; Kian Kam Kho, software engineer and food blogger; and Stephanie Wang-Breal, filmmaker. Moderator will be Andrew Coe, author of "Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States." See calendar (www.foodhistorynewsxxxxx) for event listing.
"Bon Appétit: Food and Dining in the Hudson Valley," a conference organized by the Great Estates Consortium, will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2010 beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the Roosevelt Library and Home. Bon Appétit, which celebrates the rich history of food in the Hudson Valley, has been planned to coincide with Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2010. This fourth annual event will take place between March 15 - 28, and will showcase this scenic New York State region as a premier culinary destination. Conference attendees are encouraged to dine at fixed prices in nearby restaurants and stay in local hotels offering special rates for Restaurant Week. FMI www.hudsonvalleyrestaurantweek.com
Heidi Hill, Historic Site Manager of Crailo and Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, will explore 17th century food using Dutch genre paintings and archaeological evidence, Dutch documents and 17th century artifacts from New Netherland and Indian lands. Valerie Balint, Associate Curator at Olana State Historic Site will explore evolving mid-century dining tastes and trends using Olana and the daily practices of the Church family as an example. Frank Futral, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, will explore the food customs of millionaires during the Gilded Age. Melodye Moore, Historic Site Manager at Staatsburgh State Historic Site, will explore the behind-the-scenes work of the 24 domestic servants that needed to take place in order to present a "Dinner of Ceremony" in a Gilded Age mansion. The as yet unrestored servants' quarters of Staatsburgh will illustrate where much of this work took place. Additionally there are estate tours and much more. For additional information please call (845) 889-8851 or check out these details.
March 3, 2010
In this issue: Florida history digitized. Leeds symposium. Fried chicken and black (food) history. Styrofoam coolers. Living bannock tradition.
Florida's State University Libraries have created a web site, "Publication of Archival Library and Museum Material", http://palmm.fcla.edu/ eminently worth your while. I love these sites because they so often give us a context for food in history that we can't get from cookbooks. Many thanks to Rachel Laudan who gave the heads-up on this one. I clicked right over to dub around in it.
It certainly has cookbooks but there is much more. I went to Florida Collections (lots of history stuff) and then searched on the term "cookery" and up popped 56 books - some older, some not-so-old, but revealing about what was going on in Florida at various junctures, like Pickles and Relishes from Florida Fruits and Vegetables, 1941. Or Preserving Florida Citrus Fruits, 1938. I hit pay dirt in Florida Portrayed : Its Sections, Climate, Productions, Resources, etc. : with practical hints to intending settlers, 1880. Page 77, the appearance of conch, along with fish, clams and oysters, in the cookery of the Florida Keys which a veiled comment hints is inhabited by wreckers (people who lure ships ashore), and a nifty section on "Hints to Newcomers." I love this stuff.
Leeds Symposium the twenty-fifth such event, in York, England, on APril 24, this year has the punny theme "Crunch" (think credit, economic crunch) with biscuits and other crunchy food the topic of discussion. Speakers include Anne Wilson, "Textures and teeth: a brief history of crunch," Malcolm Jones on "Love, death and biscuits," Ivan Day with "Biscuit-makers and their books." Robin Weir will discuss "The Bath Oliver biscuit" and Anastasia Edwards, "Biscuit nostalgia;" Margaret Poole "Music bread," Ann Rycraft, "Cracknels." Location is Friends Meeting House, Friargate, York. Registration information is available from: C. Anne Wilson, Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT. Please return the completed forms as soon as possible and not later than 2nd April 2010.
Fried chicken is an emblematic Black food and so in Black History Month (February) there was a whole lot of soul food and fried chicken around. I could kiss Julianne Hing for saying, "It's plain 'ol reductive to honor Black folks' history with fried chicken. Haven't Black folks given this country more than fried chicken?" This interesting item discusses the menu in the NBC staff cafeteria which Hing described as one of "The Best of the Worst Ways to Celebrate Black History Month."
Now, when someone like Psyche Forson-Williams puts together a book like Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs, the connection between Black womenfolk and fried chicken comes in loud and clear, as it does when we read about fried chicken carried in picnic boxes as Black folks traveled because they couldn't get a meal in a restaurant. Lots of people besides Black folks made and ate fried chicken, including my Swedish-born grandmother married to a swamp Yankee and no Southern influence anywhere in sight.
I've always thought that this fried chicken and collards stuff and the attribution to Black slave cooks of red pepper in Southern cooking was condescending besides being inadequately proven historically speaking (like before 1930s). Go ahead and prove me wrong if you want.
Styrofoam coolers appeared on February 10, 1957, says Jim Hillibish for the GateHouse News Service. From time to time the Corning, NY, newspaper the Leader runs a feature authored by Hillibish called Today in Food History (but not every day). Take a squint on the history of this item manufactured by Dow Chemical. The food and cooler connection is strong.
Then for a living bannock tradition, take a look at Hillibish's piece in the paper on Canadian bannock, buns and bread. Bannock appears in lots of early American cookbooks, but we don't hear the term in the States anymore.
February 24, 2010
In this issue: Marmalade in Toronto. CHoNC news. Pancakes by Ken. Global anything. Seattle Kitchens. Twitter and me.
"Mad for Marmalade, Crazy for Citrus" is on this weekend, Saturday, February 27, 2010, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm, in Toronto cosponsored by Culinary Historians of Toronto and Fort York National Historic Site. This is the third annual one, and I have my fingers crossed that there will be a fourth because I couldn't go this year but long to do so. Here is what they do.
They have Morning Workshops-- "Candied Peel," "Pig Bladders and Brandy," "Judging Marmalade Quality," "Marmalade with Asian Twists," "Adapting Old Recipes," "Mrs King's Marmalade," "Sussex Pond Pudding," or "Tomato Trends." Luscious.
And a Marmalade Competition that anyone can enter. One jar per recipe, as many different recipes as you wish in four categories: Pure Seville Orange Marmalades, Other Fruit Marmalades, Vegetable / Fruit Marmalades, and Marmalade Baked Goods. They will be judged according to visual appeal, texture, aroma, flavour and "that certain something."
This is Lunch: Marmalade Chicken and Citrus Risotto (2006), Peach Marmalade Tarts (1744), Quince Marmalade Tarts (1769), Rich Bread and Butter Pudding (1845) Three Tastings: Seville Punch (1769), Lemonade (1827), and Negus Ice (1833).
Mary Williamson is the guest speaker: "From apples to oranges, pumpkin and quince, marmalading is treasured Canadian tradition." And there will be a Marmalade Marketplace: delicious preserves by Greaves and Lyndon Preserves, old and current, preserving books, more!
Full information at www.culinaryhistorians.ca.$32.62 adults, $28.81 seniors and youths, $27.86 children (plus GST and PST). Pre-registration is advised: 416-392-6907 x221 or email@example.com.
Following the program, members of the Culinary Historians of Ontario will meet from 3:00-3:30 pm to conduct the following business: Election of Treasurer and Vice President and amendment of CHO By-Laws to include provisions for voting by proxy and ballot. CHO members are welcome to come to the business meeting even if they don't attend the day's program.
I've got to renew my passport this year so I can get to this event next year.
Meanwhile, CHoNC, the Culinary Historians of Northern California had William Rubell in to talk about life among the Samburu people who live near Wamba, in northern Kenya, particularly their smokey milk produced by the women cleaning their wooden milk containers by rubbing and scraping the insides with burning sticks. Erica Peters reported that Rubell explained, "Depending on the wood chosen, the stick might leave a sweet taste or a bitter taste, or even a subtle sweetness within a bitter taste. The women prepared their wooden "calabashes" with great care to impart desired flavors to the milk."
March will see a talk from Andy Smith on Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine. The meeting will be on Friday, March 12, 2010 at 5:30 pm, Omnivore Books, 3885a Cesar Chavez Street, SF CA 94131. Phone: (415) 282-4712.
Ken Albala has published a book called Pancakes: A Global History. It is the subject of a blog piece here for the New Yorker, which you may find as interesting as I did. February 23 was National Pancake Day. It should have been last Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, a traditional day for eating pancakes, but never mind. I have not yet see Ken's pancake book, but I know Ken and I think he will have done a very good job on it. There are other "global" histories of various foods: pie, hamburger, etc. When I talked with Ken at the Roger Smith Hotel Food Writer's Conference (videos of which are available for viewing at http://rogersmithlife.com/category/rs-food-writers-conf) I made grumbling noises about global histories. Ken said, "Why not?" So of course, because it always takes me a long time to think of why something bothers me, it was not until only a couple days ago that the reason finally worked its way to the surface, like a deeply buried splinter finally oozing up where you can tweezer it out. It's the damn title.
Something about Global History, anything, implies a level of mastery the reader will achieve that I doubt I can be really accomplished in a small volume. Goodness knows we need good solid introductory volumes to various topics. And Ken knows more about pancakes certainly than he could fit in this. (It took Ken a month to write it.) I doubt however that any publisher feels that they can sell a book called An Introduction to World Pancake History or even An Overview of Global Pancakes, or even a Grand Overview of ….
I have gotten so weary of grandiose titles promising "thousands" of years or ideas or factoids, or globally encompassing, world shaking, or the blah-blah that changed humankind. What bull shit. You can see I am shaking my wattles again.
"Seattle Apartment Kitchens: 1901-1939" by Jacqueline Williams and Diana James was just published in Columbia: The Magazine of Northwest History. Jackie sent me a copy, and I found it very interesting indeed. They provide a terrific overview of apartment kitchen design and furnishings, pointing out that Seattle was relatively late to construct apartment buildings, starting in around 1900. So many became showcases of the newest in kitchen appliances like stoves-gas and electric, refrigerators, sinks and cabinets. It is a good read, and if you are on the West Coast and interested, look it up.
You can follow me on Twitter. I'll figure out how to install one of those little blue Ts somewhere around here one day. Meanwhile http://twitter.com/EditorFHN. I don't Tweet very often so checking in with me will be light duty.
February 17, 2010
In this issue: Adirondack Food Traditions. Narrow-casting with food history. An American Food Historian blog. Samp, hominy and posole? In the pipeline: Tenement Museum food history and traditional recipes from Ken Albala. Ann Chandonnet on the Civil War.
Adirondack food traditions is the topic for a new exhibit set to open in May at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Lake, NY. "Let's Eat! Adirondack Food Traditions" will be on from May 28 through October 18, 2010, and will present, says the announcement, "recipes from the Old World to church potluck dinners or meals around the campfire."
From their collection there will be hand-written menus and journals, posters advertising turkey shoots, dances, and potluck suppers, historic photographs spanning more than 150 years depicting people dining inside and out, in crowded mess halls, on picnic blankets, and seated at elegant tables. Further there are interviews with Adirondack cooks, camp workers, guides, vacationers, and residents to provide first-person accounts of elaborate cookouts at Great Camps, maple sugaring, Prohibition, and the daily routine of a lumber camp cook.
F.M.I. Adirondack Museum is at Routes 28N & 30, in Blue Mountain Lake, NY 12812. Phone: (518) 352-7311, www.adirondackmuseum.org
Narrow-casting, according to a session I attended this weekend past in New York City at the Roger Smith Hotel Food Writers Conference, is to address a niche topic. One speaker suggested food history was a good example of same. I took the speaker's point--she meant probably that not many people are interested in food history, so it is a topic with a narrow band of interest. Still…
Food has occupied humankind's interest daily for millennia, caused wars, peace, settlement in new places, created wealth and poverty, been the object innovation and science, made possible the arts, religion, and government. Half of humanity dedicate great amounts of their time to storing, preparing, and serving food, and the other half has spent great amounts of time hunting or growing it. To me, a narrow-cast would be absorption with cupcakes.
An American Food Historian is the somewhat grandiose title I have given a blog that I have begun to write and that you can visit here: http://www.americanfoodhistorian.blogspot.com/ The purpose of the blog is to air interesting items regarding food history in America that are not just news, which I reserve for this spot. Over the years, I have talked here about all kinds of things that I know lots more people would be intrigued by, but alas, since many, often the young which these days is almost anyone else, turn to blogs for information, and though this page you read now is a blog it is not on Blogger.com or Wordpress, or any of the other blog sites where it can be found.
So I will re-air some of the topics I have addressed in the past and also post musings on new work I am doing. Please visit once in a while, and tell your friends. Don't expect daily updates, and really, do you have time to read something new from me daily anyway?
Samp, hominy, and posole? Clearly no one has read their last issue of Food History News - no one, not one - has commented to me on the in depth articles on those three identical food items. Or was it so astounding that all have been struck dumb?
In the pipeline: happy, happy to report that a book will be out in June by Jane Ziegelman about the food ways of five families who occupied the apartments depicted at the Tenement Museum in New York City. Entitled 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, you can pre-order it here. Also Ken Albala has a new one coming out co-authored with Rosanna Nafziger, entitled The Lost Art of Real Cookery, to be published by Perigee/Penguin in New York. Best to let Ken's own blurb describe it: "An introduction to the antiquated kitchen, or cookery made difficult and inconvenient being foremost a pleasant discourse on the nature and execution of arcane and dangerous culinary practices," salami-making for example, "especially designed for patient discerning individuals who appreciate superior homemade food and those who will not balk at devoting many laborious hours to the kitchen." Stay tuned.
Food historian Ann Chandonnet has branched out into history, period. Chandonnet, known to FHN readers for her articles on the Gold Rush and scurvey and Alaskan topics inherited 150 unpublished letters from distant relatives, covering the period 1850 to 1919. She has spent the past four years annotating these letters to create a book titled "Write Quick": War and a Woman's Life, 1835-1868. The 600-page book will be published April 1 by Winoca Books & Media of Wilmington, N.C. It includes more than 50 period illustrations, 3 family trees, rosters of Massachusetts and Maine infantry companies, and footnotes as well as source notes.
February 10, 2010
In this issue: Nan Piianaia. What the Culinary Historians of Atlanta are doing. Ditto Culinary Historians of Northern California. Food History in San Francisco. Chocolate in St. Paul. Peacock Harper celebration details. A message from the Shameless Commerce Division.
Nan Piianaia, food historian and founder of Slow Food Hawaii, long-time subscriber to FHN and beloved friend, died on January 29, 2010, after a long struggle with cancer.
Nan was dedicated to good food and supported local agriculture and farmer's markets. She contacted me a long time ago having done a fine and fascinating piece of oral history work on the many ethnic food businesses in Hawaii. Regrettably this work has never had wide circulation even though it is a valuable study. The last couple years of her life were absorbed by her work for the Slow Food movement, and she went to Italy to Terra Madre, and also to Japan to learn more about that cuisine. She always brought the historian's sensibility to her work in food.
Nan loved lobster, and she and Norm both visited in Maine at our home and we always had lobster when they came. During one visit she accompanied me to a cooking job I had at Kirstie Alley's summer house, and she pitched in, regaling me with stories of her work at Chez Panisse. Once they brought son Gordon plus poi, and lomi salmon so we could have a taste of Hawaii. Then Jamie and I visited with them in Hawaii and feasted on avocado from a neighbor's tree, the most amazing avocado I have ever eaten.
Nan and I would get together whenever we could, shared hotel rooms at conferences, or got together during her visits in the Boston area when she came back to Lexington where she grew up. We talked food endlessly. I learned a great deal from her and because she perfectly understood my need for the historic and anthropological perspective, she helped me tremendously with the chapter about seafarers' encounters with Pacific food in my first book. Mainly I treasured her friendship, her very existence. I will miss her very much.
She lived in Waimea on the Big Island, and is survived by her husband Norman, two sons and daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. Here is a link to an article about her.
The Culinary Historians of Atlanta, Deb Duchon leading the way, are meeting at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, 1927 Lakeside Pkwy, Tucker, GA 30084 on Tuesday, February 23 at 7:30 PM and Deb will be the speaker. Her topic: "Topic: Chocolate in the Wake of Christopher Columbus." Her blurb about it says this: "It made the Mayans rich and the Aztecs powerful. Christopher Columbus took some cacao pods home to Spain, but died before finding out what they were. Spain may have conquered the New World in those years, but chocolate went on to conquer all of Europe." And then they will sample chocolates from around the world so there is a $5 charge for this event to cover the cost of chocolate and supplies. Don't you wish you lived in Atlanta? Of course, if you live in Virginia and your idea of a perfect winter doesn't include three feet of snow, then you might very well wish you lived in Atlanta.
The group lined up the rest of their spring programs, too. See the calendar page on this site for meetings to come. Be advised that they plan to examine the history of beer, refrigerators and iceboxes, and plans a picnic based on members' family recipes.
Meanwhile, the Culinary Historians of Northern California (CHoNC) have an upcoming meeting with William Rubel as their speaker. His topic: "In Smoke and Shadow: The Samburu of Northern Kenya and their Smoke-Flavored Milk." I have to say, William is really good at the strange and wonderful. Erica Peters tirelessly organizes these things, and she writes, "As a reminder, this is one of our rare Oakland talks, so I am hoping for a good turn out from East Bay CHoNC folks." The date is Thursday, Feb. 11th, 2010, 5:30-7 pm, at CSU East Bay, Oakland campus, 1000 Broadway, Suite 109 (entrance on 11th St.) If you are in that area and have never attended a meeting, don't be shy.
Food history in San Francisco is likely to be the theme of an upcoming evening program sponsored by the San Francisco Historical and Museum Society. Organizer Susan Coss is looking for someone who can talk about the waterfront and port-influenced foods of SF, though it appears she is looking for anyone who can also "speak to the history of coffee here; provide restaurant and/or bar stories from an insider's perspective."
The event is scheduled for April 13, from 7 to 9 at the J.C.C. If you have any suggestions for possible speakers -- especially for the waterfront/port-influenced food of SF -- please let her know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Chocolate" the exhibit is headed to the Minnesota History Center in October this year. It will stay there until January 2, 2011. The press info from MHS reports, "Artifacts include pre-Columbian ceramics and ritual objects; European silver and porcelain chocolate services; nineteenth- and twentieth-century cocoa tins, advertising and packaging; antique and contemporary candy molds; and botanical specimens and agricultural tools." Sounds luscious. This bilingual exhibit was created by The Field Museum in Chicago; all text is in Spanish and English.
Peacock Harper Culinary Friends will celebrate their 10th anniversary with a celebration on March 12, 2010, at 11:30 a.m. at the Roanoke Country Club in Roanoke, Virginia. Here are the details promised back along. Nancy Carter Crump, author of Hearthside Cooking, will speak, delving into the subject of "From Hearth to Stove," about the history of cooking, particularly in Virginia.
The menu is all taken from Nancy's book, and includes Mrs. Randolph's Asparagus Soup, Mrs. Randolph's Chicken with Sauce, Oatlands Corn Pudding, Green Peas with Mint, Mrs. Gray's Muffins, Iced Tea, Hopkins Family Coconut Pound Cake. Yum. For more information go to the calendar page.
Shameless Commerce: Book: To my amazement Food in Colonial and Federal America, which I wrote for Greenwood Press and which was published in 2005, is available in Kindle!
This is an excellent book for newcomers to the field of food history and a handy reference for the more knowledgeable. Greenwood publishes these books - this one was part of a four book series--with high school, community college, and college and public libraries in mind. In fact, to my frustration, they regard that as practically their sole market and I cannot buy the books from them to peddle out of the back of my car even though I could've sold a couple hundred by now. The result of that is the author - moi - gets to earn squat. However, they do sell on Amazon, and even though the price will blow you out of your seat, you can get it cheaper from Amazon, and Kindle is cheaper yet.
Please buy this book. Take a look here at the contents information and read about the other books I have written.
February 1, 2010
In this issue: Last print Food History News has gone out. Clarissa Dillon's website. Nancy Baggett to regale ChoW on Valentines. Gourmet's collection goes to Fales. Prospect Books publishes symposia papers. Great Migration and Southern cooking in NYC. Food History Symposium. Happy Candlemas.
The last printed version of Food History News went into the mail last Monday and many of you have received yours by now (providing you subscribed and if you didn't, it is too late.) This issue was dedicated to an exploration of samp, hominy, and posole and in the doing of it, I came to understand why I had not made a frontal attack on it sooner.
I will endeavor to keep news here on this page as I have done for sometime, sometimes more regularly than others. General website improvements are in order-we are up to 1400 or so museums in the directory, the resources page needs fixing up, and lots of additions. I have posted the footnotes for FHN80 and will gradually add others from past issues. Please do keep coming back.
Our Clarissa Dillon of Haverford, PA, has a website. Clarissa, hearth cook extraordinaire, garnered her PhD from nearby Bryn Mawr by writing about women's work in colonial Pennsylvania, has been a friend of Food History News and of me since the beginning. She has had, however, to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twentieth century so the fact of her website http://www.clarissadillon.info/ is truly remarkable. For heaven's sakes, visit it so she knows it is worthwhile.
In actual fact, Clarissa was one of three causes of FHN's existence. She proposed to ALHFAM members that there be a way of sharing information. I thought that was good idea. It took two more good ideas though to push me over the edge into publishing.
Nancy Baggett stays on top of food trends with more tenacity than anyone else I know, and at the same time has a great deal of curiosity about the past. She will speak to the Culinary Historians of Washington, DC (ChoW) on Sunday, February 14, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. about "Evolution of the Romantic Heart Shape and Flavors of Valentine Confections." ChoW meets at the Bethesda/Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, Meeting Room A, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD. This is a free event, no reservations necessary.
Nancy has just authored Kneadlessly Simple-Fabulous, Fuss-Free No-Knead Breads, dedicated to the no-knead bread phenomenon started by the New York Times a couple years ago, and I noticed, adopted immediately by all the bona fide intellectuals I know.
When Gourmet Magazine closed up shop in October, their collection of 3,500 reference books were acquired by New York University's Fales Library. Author Rozanne Gold donated $14,000 to buy the collection. You probably know that Gourmet was a venerable publication, one of the earliest food magazines.
Prospect Books published proceedings from the 17th Leeds Symposium held in York, England. Usually held on some April weekend, the Leeds symposium is more intimate than the Oxford one. This set of proceedings was edited by Ivan Day and has an essay by an American, Susan Plaisted, who held forth on baking in bee hive ovens. To see more about Over a Red-Hot Stove you can visit Prospect's website: http://www.kal69.dial.pipex.com/shop/system/index.html. Prospect still keeps wonderful stuff coming. I don't know how they do it, and probably Tom Jaines who keeps it glued together doesn't know either.
"The Great Migration & Southern Cooking in New York City" is the topic on February 18, 2010, at the Museum of the City of New York, in partnership with the Southern Foodways Alliance and Mississippi Development Authority/Division of Tourism. Jessica Harris, author of a forthcoming history of African-American foodways, and one of the 50 founders of the Southern Foodways Alliance will lead the discussion, focusing on how The Great Migration transformed the culinary culture of the North.
She will be joined by Ted Lee, one of the James Beard award-winning Charleston Lee brothers who is working on a book of essays about New York City food culture. The work will certainly examine the influence that South Carolina natives have had on New York, but at its core, the book will be a celebration of the multicultural delights of our nation's culinary capitol. John T Edge will moderate the discussion. For more information visit here to learn more about the event and purchase a ticket.
Third Annual Historic Foodways Symposium: The theme this year is "Meats...for the use of the table,…". The date is Saturday, February 27, 2010, from 9:00am- 7:30pm to be held at the Pennsbury Manor (Morrisville, PA). Speakers and topics include: Of Turtles, Catfish, & Other Great Philadelphia Foods: The Archaeology of Philadelphia's Culinary Past, 1750-1850 - Teagan Schweitzer, Ph.D. candidate- Univ. of Penn. Domestic Animals in Colonial North America- Barbara Corson, VMD. 18th & 19th Century Hog & Beef Butchering and Meat Preservation Before Refrigeration - Dave Miller, Historian & Butcher. The $75 registration fee includes a resource packet, light breakfast, lunch featuring period-correct dishes, potluck dinner, optional tour of Pennsbury Manor, and access to some well-known historians. We have also arranged for a select group of sutlers to sell their wares during the course of the program.
New this year after the formal presentations and tour of the site, is an optional potluck dinner featuring sausage made using an 18th century recipe, a hearty soup, and other items brought by you and your fellow attendees. Deborah writes, "We hope you will join us, even if you are not able to travel with food... do not worry! There will be plenty for all!
The nearby Hampton Inn & Suites has agreed to offer a special discount for attendees of the program…a double room with two double beds for $89.00/night + tax (normally $139.00!).You must make your own reservations with the inn before Monday Feb. 22. Call 215-860-1700 (use code DPP). To register on line, please visit www.deborahspantry.com or print out forms to register. Telephone registration also accepted.
Happy Candlemas on February 2. Americans call it Ground Hog's Day and have concocted a silly fiction about the winter being half over if a wood chuck does or doesn't see his shadow. Candlemas marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox and I am here to tell you than winter is half over tomorrow whether ground hog or no. We customarily observe the day with a meal of all-island produced food. On the menu will be turkey, lobster, crab quiche, onion pie, carrot slaw, baked and venison-sausage-stuffed potatoes, baked apples and goodness knows what else. No cheese because we have no cows. The drinkables are tame unless someone makes wine.
January 19, 2010
In this issue: Wining, Dining and Lobbying.Chocolate in archaeology. Historic apples in Australia. Free popcorn wagon. Penelope Bingham. Oxford Symposium 2010. Cul. Hist. of Atlanta.
Wining and dining are and have been components of the lobbyists trade from Year One. In her biography of Sam Ward, King of the Lobby: The Life and Times of Sam Ward Man-About-Washington in the Gilded Age, Kathryn Allamong Jacob lays out in luscious detail how Sam combined food (menus provided) wine, and interesting and influential people to help his clients as he lobbied for all sort of legislation in Washington during the years after the Civil War. He lived well, avoided corrupt practices, and was wildly successful. A New York paper in 1876 reported, "As a lobbyist he holds that the first step towards inducing a senator or representative to vote in any desired way is to clear his judgment and vanish his prejudices by a comfortable dinner." The details of this method are marvelous, and Sam, whose sister was abolitionist Julia Ward Howe and whose best friend was poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is a fascinating character.
Kathryn Jacob's day job is at Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, as Curator of Manuscripts, and the author of two other books, one about Washington elites post Civil War.
The details: King of the Lobby: The Life and Times of Sam Ward Man-About-Washington in the Gilded Age, Kathryn Allamong Jacob, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, ISBN: 13: 978-0-8018-9397-1 $40.00. See the website.
Evidence of chocolate beverage making during the 1500s cropped up in a St. Augustine, Florida, archaeological dig recently. A molinillo, used to froth the cocoa, was found in a well in an area of the city associated historically with street vendors, according to the article in the St. Augustine Record. It is a find unique to this part of the country and implies historical connections to Mexico and Central America whence the cocoa beans would have been brought.
Historic apple varieties are being preserved by the National Trust of Australia who concluded that food heritage deserved preservation as much as historic buildings. They have propagated several rare heirloom varieties and are selling plants to home gardeners to grow. Among the 18 varieties are Winter Banana, King Cole, Coral Crab, Adams Pearman, Beauty of Bath, Chenango Strawberry, Cox's Orange Pippin, Devonshire Quarrendon, Gooseberry Pippin, Huon Belle, Magnum Roundways Bonham, Peasgoods Nonsuch, Pittmaston Pine, and Pomme de Neige. Some of these names will be familiar to heirloom apple fanciers in the States, a heritage we share with Australia thanks to our shared English origins. In the U.S. similar efforts are underway by the Renewing America's Food Traditions coalition, Slow Food, and various apple preservation groups and orchards.
Meanwhile, free popcorn wagon, anyone? The U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation has posted information on its website about a 1916-era popcorn wagon that is free to a good home. In Milwaukee. WI, on Downer Avenue, the popcorn wagon was removed to make room for a new parking garage, but the owner, Michael Eitel, has no plans now to replace it. Too much cost and bother associated with bringing it up to health codes.
Penelope Bingham of Chicago, IL, a Food History News reader, is a Road Scholar for the Illinois Humanities Council. She is presenting cookbook-themed programs across the state. For example, she was in Fowler, IL, to talk about "Who Cooks? American Cookbooks and Changes in Gender Roles" in a program sponsored by the Fowler Development Association. In this newspaper interview, Penelope discusses some of her observations about community cook books, for example, noting the increased informality with first names (Jane Doe) instead of full titles (Mrs. John Doe), about shifts in ingredients from scratch to manufactured products in ingredients, and even shifts from cookbooks directed entirely to women, to those addressing either a male or female cook.
Oxford Symposium 2010 has announced its topic and call for presentations. The Symposium has been shifted form its traditional early September slot to July. This year July 9-11, and it will be located at Oxford University's St. Catherine's College (St. Catz).The theme is Cured, Fermented and Smoked Foods, and featured plenary speakers this year include anthopologist Sidney Mintz, food writer Harold McGee and food historian Ivan Day. Patsy Iddision's email says, "Anyone may propose to present a paper at the Symposium. Prospective authors should submit a 500-1000 word abstract setting out your ideas and showing your main lines of argument by Monday, 15 February. Please include your contact details and send it via email to: email@example.com." Virtually everything you need to know about the symposium and attendant activities will be found here.
Culinary Historians of Atlanta will meet January 20, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, 1927 Lakeside Parkway, Tucker, GA, 30084. They are planning a Swapmeet. Organizer Deb Duchon wrote "Bring a kitchen item to swap. For instance, an old cookbook that you don't use anymore. An extra knife or whisk. A gadget that someone gave you (re-gifts accepted). Extra placemats, napkins, pots/pans -- anything kitchen related. I'm bringing some parsley plants. Totally voluntary."
The program will be a panel discussion of the new book, Eating History, by Andrew F. Smith with panelists Glenn Mack, Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Carlin Breinig, Home Cooking Personal Chef Service, Dr. Roger Dickerson, Georgia Tech; each will speak about one chapter in the book. This program is free and open to the public.
Their next meeting will be February 23, 7:30 pm at Le Cordon Bleu and Deb herself is the speaker. Her topic is "Chocolate in the Wake of Christopher Columbus," with a chocolate tasting to follow the presentation. There will be a small charge, ca. $5, to cover the cost of the chocolate.
January 6, 2010
In this issue: Eating History'sGood stuff . Schnitzels in Washington. Syllabub for New Year's. a 1940's kitchen up for grabs. Lyceum Symposium on food history. Peacock-Harper Culinary History Friends celebrate 10 years. Baguette History. Rare breeds conservation.
Eating History, Andy Smith's new book has some fine chapters that I think are dead-on right. I admire his first one on the Oliver Evans Mill and its influence on subsequent milling techniques. Chapter Two in the Eire Canal seems right on, too, and I love Chapter 5 on Cyrus McCormick. Chapter 8 on Gail Borden and canned milk is very convincing, well documented. Just so you know that I don't have problems with the whole book…I'll keep reporting as I read along.
Schnitzels are the topic this week for the Culinary Historians of Washington, DC (January 10, 2010, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) with speaker Tom Weiland. "The Search for the Elusive Schnitzel" is open to the public and is a free event, no reservations necessary. ChoW meets at the Bethesda/Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, Meeting Room A, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD.
Information on the meeting reports that "the word "Schnitzel" has been around for about 150 years, but the concept of flattened meat goes back much further. But how much further is the question. Weiland will explore its Mediterranean and Middle Eastern roots, and the definite, the probable, and the possible of Schnitzels. A military operations research analyst and a food hobbyist, Weiland has collected over 1,500 Schnitzel recipes and is finishing the draft of what he hopes will be the definitive Schnitzel book." A schnitzels biography gives us something to look forward to. FMI www.chowdc.org.
Syllabub was on Martha Katz-Hyman's menu last weekend. She wrote in the ALHFAM list serve, "Just to let everyone know that I did make syllabub for New Year's, and it was good! I think if I were to make it again, I would use a sweeter wine. I had some gewurtztraminer in the refrigerator and used that, and it's a bit dry for a dessert. But the proportions worked fine, it separated into the foam and the wine, and it was delicious!" I personally love syllabub and make it about once a year because it takes me a month to work off all that cream. It's nice to see a Golden Oldie like this getting aired. Martha wrote for Food History News and is a consultant for museums collections management and furnishing plans and such like.
A 1940s kitchen on Long Island needs a home. "I am posting this request for a homeowner in Huntington, NY (Long Island) who has a 1940 kitchen including original metal cabinets, stainless steel counter tops, & original stove for donation. If interested email me with your contact info ASAP. The house is due to go to closing this week." From Karen Martin, Huntington Historical Society. martin @ verizon.net
The Lyceum, Alexandria's History Museum, is hosting "Food For Thought: A Food History Symposium", a daylong event will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, January 23, at The Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street. The registration fee is $50. Advance registration is encouraged and can be done online at www.alexandriahistory.org or by calling 703.838.4994. Those wishing to register the same day should arrive no later than 8:45 a.m. Participants will have a break for lunch on their own. FMI and to register: www.alexandriahistory.org or call 703.838.4994.
Speaker line-up: Helen Tangires, Administrator of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington on "Public Markets and Civic Culture in Nineteenth-Century America". Tangires is the author of Public Markets and Civic Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003) and Public Markets (W.W. Norton, 2008). Marcy Norton on "Chocolate - The Indian Drink, 1500-1700." An associate professor of history at The George Washington University, Norton, is the author of Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World (Cornell University Press, 2008. Barbara Magid, Assistant City Archaeologist for the City of Alexandria, on "Pottery for Alexandria Kitchens". Magid, the top authority on Alexandria pottery is the author of several studies of Alexandria pottery, including five articles in Ceramics in America (Chipstone). Michael Twitty on "African-Virginian Foodways in Alexandria and the Potomac Region" Twitty, a culinary historian who is completing his undergraduate degree in African-American studies and anthropology at Howard University, is the proprietor of Afrofoodways.com and the author of Fighting Old Nep: The Foodways of Enslaved Afro-Marylanders 1634-1864 (Michael Twitty, 2006). Elaine Hawes, an independent researcher with an M.A. in American studies from the University of Delaware on "Everyone Can Afford a Cracker: The Rise and Fall of George Hill's Alexandria Bakery" Hawes has worked for a variety of art and historical agencies and lectures widely on American material culture, with a concentration on the material culture and related commercial development of Alexandria
Peacock-Harper Culinary History Friends based at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, will be celebrating 10 years of existence this year. Our own Nancy Carter Crump will be the main speaker at a program on March 12, 2010. Cindy Bertelson says, "Details later."
The baguette and the croissant have both been "prime targets for colorful invention," according to Jim Chevallier, of North Hollywood, CA, who wrote back in July: "It was fun reading your site's remarks on fake food history, some of which is similar to my own remarks on baguette history." His interest led him to write a book about the croissants and then, in a follow-up, an on-line article about baguettes. "Either, I imagine, may interest you: www.chezjim.com/books/zang.html and www.chezjim.com/books/baguette.
He remarked, "By the way, I try to correct some of this when I see it around the Web, but the effort is not always appreciated. One major food company responded to my list of corrections this morning with "What a geek!". Well, let's hear for food history geeks. Culinary historian Barbara Wheaton once told me that it was worth getting stories clear because it is better the view the world through clean eyeglasses than ones besmirched.
A rare breeds conservation program in Rhode Island made it into the New York Times this week. A cryopreservation project, the SVF Foundation, a heritage livestock preservation project in Newport, RI, underwritten by a Campbell Soup heiress, breeds various rare animals--sheep, goats, cattle--captures the embryos, freezes them and when called for thaws them for implantation in host mothers. Because so many modern animals are bred for consistency and because there are so few different sorts compared to past times, animal husbandry, like plant husbandry, is vulnerable to a disastrous disease breakout or some other stressor that an early breed could survive or resist. The foundation's work keeps those strains of animals viable so if we need to rebuild stocks we have the genetic material to do it.
The American Rare Breeds Conservancy working with Slow Food, has also conducted animal preservation. The food connection here is that if there any commercial value to the animals at all, that is, if we eat them, then there is reason to keep them going. This has worked spectacularly well with heritage turkeys, by the way.
Book Notices & Comment
Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita
Pasta has its own encyclopedia now available in translation from the University of California Press. The author, Oretta Zanini De Vita, catalogs 310 pasta forms, gives ingredients, descriptions of how it is made, alterative names, how it is sauced and served, where it is found, and miscellaneous other comments about it including associations with festivals, frequency of use, and variations. Truly amazing piece of work. The U.C. edition is translated by Maureen Fant and Carol Field wrote a foreword. And I thought I was so sophisticated because can tell the difference between tagliatelle and orichette. Huh.
The details: Encyclopedia of Pasta, Oretta Zanini De Vita, trans. by Maureen B. Fant, California Studies in Food and Culture, 26, University of California Press, 2009. 400 pages, a nice compact 6x9, 102 line illustrations, a map of Italy with its regions,. Cloth 978-0-520-25522-7, @29.95 whattadeal. http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/11106.php
Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages by Patrick E. McGovern.
Wine and other fermented beverages popped up on U.C. Press website while I was looking at the pasta book. Patrick E. McGovern, a professor of archaeology has written Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages. He has been at this a long time, and has done some of the most fascinating work. This is what the book description says: "Following a tantalizing trail of archaeological, chemical, artistic, and textual clues," McGovern "brings us up to date on what we now know about how humans created and enjoyed fermented beverages across cultures. … We discover, for example, that the cereal staples of the modern world were probably domesticated for their potential in making quantities of alcoholic beverages." Among them were rice in China and Japan, corn in the Americas, and millet and sorghum of Africa. Fermenting, it says, "may be fundamental to the human condition itself." Well, I always said that fermented beverages were a universal food along with soup, flatbreads, etc. I find myself absolutely gripped by what archaeology can dig up for us. McGovern used chemical analysis, artistic renditions of wine making and trade, and ancient texts to draw this picture.
The details: Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages, by Patrick E. McGovern. University of California Press. 2009, ISBN 9780520253797. $29.95, hardcover, 348 pages, 6 x 9 inches, 10 color illustrations, 24 b/w photographs, 4 maps. http://ucpress.edu/books/pages/10996.php
Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine by Andy Smith's Andy's editing on the big Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink and the indispensable Oxford Companion to American Food, plus all the digging over the years into tomatoes, turkeys, snack foods, hamburgers, etc., clearly helped him define these turning points. I have to say that I agree with him on quite a few of his choices-steps that Americans have taken that definitely changed how we eat and think about food. One noteworthy tendency is that for every trend there is a vigorous and influential, even when not large, counter-trend.
This one was published by Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-14092-8 - cloth $29.95, 392 pages, illustrated. See it here.
My Eating History Problem: Let's talk about chapter nine, entitled, "The Homengenizing War." Andy Smith asserts several things here that I don't think pan out. One is, page76, "Prior to the Civil War, by far the most interesting regional cuisine had flourished in the South." First of all, I don't think that there was a Southern regional cuisine prior to the Civil War - I don't think there was any regional cuisines anywhere prior to the Civil War, please see Rethinking Regionalism in Food History News # 72 It was gentry cuisine and it was widely shared in the North and Mid Atlantic, anywhere there was wealthy enough elites to provide it. It certainly flourisihed before the Civil War and it faded away among and along with the gentry in the South after the War.
On page 78, "When the Northern armies occupied the South during and after the Civil War, Union soldiers got their first taste of southern foods which many missed aftern their return home." Andy cites peanuts, which I will grant him, and he also cites fried chicken, gumbo, jambalaya, rice, sweet potatoes, and barbecue. He writes, "The distinct local foodways in the North and the South began to mingle and meld."
During the Civil War food in the South was terrible. There was less and less and it was of terrible quality for soldiers and civilians alike. During Reconstruction the great poverty that spread across the South tended I think to underline local foods and isolate the South. In the post war years, the South became more Southern because of the poverty and isolation and it did not become more homogenized until the twentieth century when it became more prosperous.
I have yet to read a letter or journal of a Northern soldier who fondly recalled and longed for Southern food once he was back in the North. I just haven't seen that. So it is OK by me if Andy wants to assert this but I want to see the evidence-I want to read the quote from Johnny Yank that says, "I haven't had good fried chicken and sweet potatoes since the War." If you have seen such a thing, let me know. But besides that, sweet potatoes and rice were no strangers to Northerners and barbecue, gumbo, and jambalaya remained strangers until the twentieth century. The Civil War did not initiate the mingled and melding that occurred later.
Now in this same chapter he offers up some other homogenizing factors: legislation namely the Homestead Act, and the creation of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and Pacific Railway act. These seem to be genuine homogenizing factors - in a more significant way than the Civil War. I wish he had left the war out of this and just concentrated on the legislation.
Food, Drink and Celebrations of the Hudson Valley Dutch by Peter Rose
Peter G. Rose published her book Food, Drink and Celebrations of the Hudson Valley Dutch (The History Press) in March and her Summer Pleasures, Winter Pleasures, a Hudson Valley Cookbook (SUNY Press) will appear in September. In case you hadn't noticed, it is the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage on behalf of the Dutch up the river eventually named for him. This small volume is a wonderful compilation of all the basic information on Dutch food in America. To learn more about the books check out this link.
Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in America by Andrew Coe
Andy Coe is the author of a book called Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in America. It is now out, published by Oxford University Press. You know, one of the first questions shot over FHN's bows many years ago was "what is the origin of chop suey in America." I don't remember now who asked, but at the time I didn't know anyone working on it or Chinese food in the States, period. And now, here comes Andy tracing American exposure to Chinese food from the ship Empress of China's 1784 visit in China to the Chinese cooks in the Gold Rush, to city restaurants and food court take-out.
Andy writes for Saveur, Gastronomica, the NY Times, and co-authored Foie Gras: A Passion. He has contributed to the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink and even F.H.N.
The details: Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, by Andrew Coe; Oxford University Press, $24.95; 320 pages; ISBN13: 9780195331073. Website.
Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by>Richard Wrangman.
Wrangman makes the very interesting argument that cooking changed both our physical evolution and social structures. Physically, we are not well equipped with sharp teeth or claws for capturing animals and eating them raw, and our guts are smaller than other primates, adapted to digesting cooked food. We get more nutrients from cooked food, and so we obtain more energy from it quickly freeing us up for other activities. Women ended up as cooks, and, sadly, subject to hungry men so social structures that protected and subjugated women evolved as well.
Basic Books publicity wants the press to pick up on Wrangman's criticism of raw food diets; the contribution that processed and cooked foods contribute to obesity; that modern food labeling is misleading because it does not take into account variations in the body's absorption of different foods, i.e. cooked foods are absorbed more readily than raw; and the role of cooking in the origins of marriage and the division of male and female labor. But you can read it for yourself and decide what Wrangman says is most important.
It has 309 pages, published by Basic Books and costs $26.95. ISBN: 9780465013623 and ISBN-10: 0465013627 See this URL for more info. http://www.perseusbooksgroup.com/basic/book_detail.jsp?isbn=0465013627
An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage
Tom Standage has another book in the works. He is the author of The History of the World in Six Glasses, and his next will be An Edible History of Humanity, to be published by Walker and Company, New York, in which he traces the history of humankind via the production of food, with a particular eye towards various elements of food and technology. In promotional material sent out the publicist quotes Standage, "That food has been such an important ingredient in human affairs might seem strange, but it would be far ore surprising if it had not: after all, everything that every person has ever done, throughout history has literally been fueled by food." No! Feature that!
He goes over ground, for instance, covered more thoroughly but less readably by John Keay in Spice Routes and the like, but I see that he doesn't include Martin Jones' Feast in his chapters on social structure and food, and I think of Jones being one of the most fascinating and clear writers on the topic I have seen. Standage makes a lot of this stuff very accessible and we all have known for a long time what he is presenting here. I am not sorry that he is drawing attention to it. Advance reading copies are out and the book is due in May. Stay tuned.
Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed
John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed authored Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue. The whole first section of the book is dedicated to barbecue history, even pre-history, but then focuses down on North Carolina style 'cue even though John Shelton comes from Tennessee and I always thought Tennesseans didn't think that North Carolina BBQ counted as the real thing. The Reeds who believe that barbecue is a good deal like jazz, include how to do it, and offer portraits of current practitioners. They do a good job of staying away from fakelore or if they include they engage in truth in labeling. This is a University of North Carolina Press book, $30.00 cloth bound, ISBN: 978-0-8078-3243-1,Savage Barbecue: Race, Culture, and the Invention of America's First Food by Andrew Warnes.
As an Englishman, Warnes brings a different perspective to BBQ, reporting on the Europeans' view of it as a primitive and even barbaric practice. He also sees the invention of BBQ tradition, something I see in the clam bake tradition of the northeastern U.S. I have not finished reading this book, but what I have so far strikes me as very thought provoking. So far nothing seems joltingly out of kilter though there are times when I think too much is made of something that might be less significant than it seems.
Andrew Warnes is Lecturer in American Literature and Culture at Leeds University. Savage Barbecue came out in August 2008. ISBN 0820331090 paper, $19.95, ISBN 0820328960 cloth $59.95. 6 x 9 in. 14 b&w photos. University of Georgia Press.Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef by Betty Fussell.
I spotted this at Kitchen Arts and Letters in New York City, and bought it on the spot. I haven't read it yet but I think it promises to give me another perspective on the American beef industry that has gotten us and itself into so much trouble the past decade or so. The end of the book is clogged with endnotes, and that always warms my heart. The details: ISBN-13/EAN: 9780151012022 ; Price: $26.00, ISBN-10: 0151012024, Hardcover; 416 pages, Trim Size: 6 x 9. Harcourt, Inc.
Hearthside Cooking by Nancy Carter Crump
Nancy Carter Crump has revised Hearthside Cooking: Early American Southern Cuisine Updated for Today's Hearth and Cookstove, published by the University of North Carolina Press. I wrote the foreword to this edition, and happily. Since the first edition came out, Nancy has dug in on some interesting stuff about slave cooks and a lot other things that had no place in this book but which we, with crossed fingers, hope she will publish elsewhere (like in Food History News!) You can read an interview with Nancy Carter at this website. It is informative but doesn't quite capture Nancy's personal style which is a good deal more humorous and irreverent.
Here are all the details: ISBN 978-0-8078-3246-2, $30.00 hardcover Approx. 352 pp., 68 illus., notes, bibl., index. The University of North Carolina Press, 116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC, 27514-3808 1-800-848-6224 (orders), 919-966-3829 (fax).
Mrs. Darwin's Recipe Book. Revived and Illustrated, by Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway
Charles Darwin is in the news lately because of the 200th anniversary of his birth. Last fall Mrs. Darwin's Recipe Book was published "Revived and Illustrated, by Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway" published by Glitterati Inc. Emma Darwin's recipes will not astonish anyone familiar with 19th century English gentry cookery, but this is a pleasant little volume. Food and Think, a blog on the Smithsonian site discusses it. For reviews you can check out this one at the Smithsonian website. Also you can read our own Cynthia Bertleson's take on the book at her food history blog Gherkins & Tomatoes. To see more about the book go to Glitterati -- and page down.
The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, translated by Terence Scully
The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): The Art and Craft of a Master Cook has been translated with commentary by Terence Scully. Scappi was the cook for cardinals and popes, wrote one of the most extensive cook books of his era which gives us a valuable perspective on Italian Renaissance food history. This is the first England translation of the work and Scully provides valuable context and comments. University of Toronto Press. ISBN: 0802096247 Hardcover, 787pp, $95.00. The book is described at this website page down a ways, and if you are interested in medieval cookery you will appreciate reading about the other books listed.
Gastropolis, Food and New York City, edited by Annie Hauck Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch
Gastropolis, Food and New York City, edited by our own Annie Hauck Lawson and Jonathan Deutsch has been published by Columbia University Press. The publisher describes it as an "irresistible sampling of the city's rich food heritage" that "explores the personal and historical relationship between New Yorkers and food." Chapters include:
"The Food and Drink of New York from 1624 to 1898"
For more information you can also read the chapter "Fusion City: From Mt. Olympus to Puerto Rican Bagels and Beyond" an essay by our own Cara De Silva. Here are the details: publsihed November, 2008 Cloth, 368 pages, ISBN: 978-0-231-13653-2, $29.95 Columbia University Press, 61 W. 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023, 212.459.0600 ext. 7159.
America's Kitchens by Nancy Carlisle and Melinda Talbot Nasardinov
America's Kitchens by Nancy Carlisle and Melinda Talbot Nasardinov has been published, hooray. It is a luscious book, full of wonderful historic and current images of several centuries worth of kitchens from New England to the South to the Southwest. It's full of good solid, well-researched information. Oh, joy, oh joy.
After an introductory chapter, the book moves largely chronologically, beginning with the New England Hearth, 1720 to 1840, then the Southern Plantation, 1830 to 1860, followed by a chapter on cook stoves and servants, 1850 to 1890, then covers "Kitchens Along the Rio Grande, 1821 it 1912. The next chapter is the kitchen 1890 to 1945, then 1945 to the present comes last, tugging at the heart strings of those of us old enough to remember the 50s and 60s. No matter what era you are interested in, it is covered here and then you get the historical context to boot.
The book is the product of the research done to support what was to be a traveling exhibit created by Historic New England (formerly the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities). Sadly the exhibit was not funded to completion. Enroute to the exhibit and book, lots of our friends and colleagues helped out. Leni Sorensen advised on the plantation kitchens section. Cheryl Foote pitched in on the Southwest section. Donna Braden, Barbara Haber, Marcie Ferris, Laura Shapiro and many others contributed advice.
Tilbury House in Gardiner, Maine, is the publisher, 8700-582-1899, and here are the details: Publication date December 1; ISBN 978-0-88448-308-3, $34.95 in what is termed a deluxe paperback (very solid), 200 plus black and white and color illustrations. Put it on your Christmas wish list.
Milk by Anne Mendelson
Anne Mendelson's much anticipated (by me, at least) book on milk is out! I have a copy though I haven't read it all yet. I am so happy to know that finally a serious, careful researcher has tackled the topic, and that all those pesky questions about what is buttermilk anyway, and what is the deal on cheese, and all that are answered. I'll keep you posted as I read and let you know what I learn. Meanwhile, you can read food historian Rachel Lauden's take on the book here. Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages-Anne Mendelson. Hardcover. Knopf. 978-1-4000-4410-8 (1-4000-4410-3) | $29.95.
America Eats! On the Road with the WPA : The Fish Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chitlin Feasts that Define Real American Food by Pat Willard
Pat Willard's America Eats! On the Road with the WPA : The Fish Fries, Box Supper Socials, and Chitlin Feasts that Define Real American Food is out. This is the food writing from the WPA (Works Progress Administration) Writers Project abandoned on the eve of World War II. Some of the material was stashed in the Library of Congress, and in various locations around the country. Pat went over a lot of it, then tracked down many of the events that are still being held in many places. This book is about what she found. Bloomsbury USA, $25.99. Visit Pat's website.
Feast,by Martin Jones
Feast, you will be pleased to know, by Martin Jones is available in paperback. This is a very fine piece of work on what archaeologists learned about people eating in groups, and is a fascinating read. Oxford University Press at $24.95 instead of the $49 needed for the hardcover. See the website.The Spice Route by John Keay.
The Spice Route is one of several books on spices and their lore that have appeared in recent years. Written by John Keay, this is one from the University of California Press's California Studies in Food and Culture. I'll tell you, the guy has done his homework, and this book is a wickedly detailed piece of work on a mind-boggling topic. It is a rugged read, chock-full of unpronounceable nouns, and for those of us crippled by the American education system's weak preparation in world geography, a sentence like the following can reduce one to tears:
"To Barygaza comes cotton-cloth from Minnagara (Mandasor in Saurashtra) plus, courtesy of the trade-minded Shatavahanas, great wagon-trains of onyx and muslins from 'two important marts' in Dakshinabades (the Deccan), name Paithana (Paithan) and Tafgara (Ter.). More Himalaya spices are brought down from as far as Poklaius (Charsudda, near Peshawar) by way of Ozene (Ujjain), 'which was previously a seat of government.' In fact it was the capital of western India under the emperor Chandragupta and his Mauryan successors." (pg. 65.)
Keay has clearly tackled some very difficult sources, dealt with names that change over time, in ancient, obscure documents written in ancient languages. There are maps though not every place name appears on them. I have worked myself, slowly through 113 pages of 256 of text. I have absolutely thrilled to relations of some early spice-trade-driven maritime history. I hope as I work my way through I will derive more from the later chapters where I already have a working matrix that I can fit some of this material into. It hasn't been easy so far. This book is not for sissies or the impatient.
What I have learned so far is that the spice trade is much, much more ancient than we have previously imagined. That lots of things qualified in the trade besides pepper, ginger, and cloves, including incense, certain minerals, and cloth. That if you turn to even Roman and Greek sources for information about early spice trade, you can get in trouble because their information was pretty fuzzy; you have to look at much earlier stuff. Or at this book which does it for us. John Keay The Spice Route A History, California Studies in Food and Culture, 17, $40.00, hardcover 978-0-520-24896-0, available now. $16.95, paperback 978-0-520-25416-9, available now. http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10668.php - 19.7kb
Human Cuisinem edited by Gary Allen and Ken Albala
Cannibalism is for many an unsavory topic. As co-editors Gary Allen and Ken Albala note in the introduction to a Human Cuisine, discussion of eating our fellow human beings is likely to prompt nervous laughter: "Jokes are, in part, a way of hiding real anxiety about touchy subjects," they write. Ken and Gary have managed to assemble an anthology that no publisher was brave enough to take on, so they plan to self-publish.
Gary wrote: "Human Cuisine is an anthology of (mostly) new literary pieces about cannibalism. Short stories, essays, a poem, and part of a play explore different aspects of the subject treating it thoughtfully, playfully, frighteningly and sensitively. Approaches range from historical/mock historical, to Sci-Fi, and from memoir/confessional to sheer speculation. We were amazed by the quality and variety of works submitted. We've just seen the proofs, and were happy as those clams cited in the familiar proverb. You can find out more about the book at this website.Spices and Comfits: Collected Papers on Medieval Food, Johanna Maria van Winter
Spices and Comfits: Collected Papers on Medieval Food has been released by Prospect Books, that venerable and dedicated publisher in England, headed by Tom Jaine. Johanna Maria van Winter is the author of the essays which address such topics as fasting and asceticism in the Middle Ages, fifteenth century invalid food, green salads in the Renaissance. Essentially the subjects are grouped into Medieval Food Habits, the Netherlands and their Neighbors; Fasting and Feasting, and Food and Health. There are twenty-eight essays in all, three indices (food and ingredients, persons, and places). Endnotes with bibliography appear at the end of chapters. Some essays, not many, are in French or German.
Ms. van Winter is a retired professor of Medieval History at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She received her doctorate with work on the Knights Hospitallers if St. John of Jerusalem in the Netherlands, but she was always interested in food. I can't help wondering if she had been born thirty years later if she would not have merely addressed food history. She has been retired since 1989 and has continued research and writing.
Details: Prospect Books, hardback, ISBN 1-903018-45-5; 978-1-903018-45-5; 440 pages, 9 black and white illustrations, 2007. $80 US. You can order it from Oxbow Books or from Amazon, if you must.Mouth Wide Open: A Cook and His Appetite, by John Thorne.
Mouth Wide Open: A Cook and His Appetite is another collection of our own John Thorne's lucid writing. He starts with marrow and ends with Fried Kielbasa-Casing Po'Boy (don't ask, you have to read it to get it) plus another chapter of book reviews. In between there are, of course, recipes, but with John Thorne, a food book isn't about the recipes but John's relationship to food, recipes, other cooks, the store, the time of day, professional chefs, and so on. One of the things I have always admired about John is what is simple about cooking and his newsletter Simple Cooking. John has favorite ways to fix many of the dishes he really enjoys, but he not doctrinaire about his approach to cooking and has a healthy skepticism about the various swings in food phobias and foibles. It is officially published today, by North Point Press, a division of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, ISBN-13: 978-0-86547-628- and ISBN-10: 0-86547-628-4, and in hardcover at $26.00. Start here and do a search on the author name.
Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar by David Wondrich
Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar by David Wondrich is now available. This is both a recipe book for some classic American cocktails and a history of Jerry Thomas. Dave told me that he had a section on punches which were left out ultimately, though he hopes he can work them into some other work. We talked about how wonderful some of the old punches, (shrubs, Negus, Bishop, etc.) were and what an important part they played in American drink history, what with their rich material culture associations--all those punch bowls! This is bound to be a good piece of work. Lots of places have it, but here is the connection to dear old Powell's in Portland. ISBN13: 9780399532870 and ISBN10: 0399532870, Perigee Books, 317 pages, hardcover, $23.95.
Kitchen Literacy, How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need to Get it Back by Ann Vileisis.
Kitchen Literacy, How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need to Get it Back by Ann Vileisis appeared on my desk as so many new books do, but this one is different. Ann, who lives in Port Orford, OR, is new to food history, and proves to have a real instinct for it. She studied history and environment and her first book was a history of wetlands which introduced her to the history of agriculture, hence food. That, plus her mentor, William Cronin (Changes in the Land), who interested her in milling and meat packing, moved her towards examining the history of food from a consumers point of view, abut how food is the central aspect of our relationship with the world.
The first few chapters are a history of how "foodsheds" (think watersheds) changed over time. She begins by examining Maine midwife Martha Ballard's late 18th and early 19th century diary, observing where Martha reported her food came from and how she handled, stored, cooked it. She moves on into the 19th century and describes how commerce and industry changed our relationship to food, sometimes against consumers' instincts and better judgment, why and how the Pure Food and Drug laws were developed, and so on into the present where so much of our food comes from extraordinarily long distances. In particular she addresses the very tricky question of food for cities from the 19th century into the 20th.
The outstanding thing about this book is that Ann who has not immersed herself in food history until now, treads sure-footedly through the material and interprets it accurately. Not everyone who comes fresh to this field manages that. For example, she uses the Dreaded Beechers as a source but instead of accepting their advice as a description of what happened, she perceives the anxiety of the housewife in the kitchen trying to control the activity, and the ominous hovering that resulted. She reads the advertisements for canned foods and understands the odd combination of fear and reassurance that they conveyed: "be afraid of other people's products but trust ours."
I really like the way she brings food history to bear on the present. I have always felt that the past wasn't behind me as much as it swirls around me, that using good ideas from the past isn't regression but having a deeper menu of choices. Ann sees this, too, describing how ideas circle around again. She said in a conversation, "We may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater back there but we don't have to do that again." If we don't see what happened once we might not recognize when it happens again.
Food and the City in Europe since 1800 edited by Peter J. Atkins, Peter Lummel and Derek J. Oddy has been published by Ashgate. It contains several essays by European scholars, organized in four sections--Feeding the Multitude: Urbanization and nutrition; Food Regulation: Food fraud and the big city; Food Innovation; Eating Fashions: the consumer perspective. London, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Corinna, Brussels, Prague, Amsterdam, Oslo, Bordeaux and others are represented, and canned milk, water porridge, turtle soup, festive meals, adulteration, immigrants and scientists are discussed. ISBN 978 0 7546 7989 2. Pages number 276. Price (sit down for this one…) $99.95. Send to Ashgatge, 101 Cherry St., Ste. 420, Burlington, VT, 05401; phone (802) 865-7641, (802) 865-7847; email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The United States of Arugula by David Kamp
The United States of Arugula: the Sun Dried, Cold Pressed, Dark Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution by David Kamp, comes recommended highly by our own Nancy Carter Crump. It is a solid little history of more recent American food habits. One thing Nancy said about it is that it really puts our current cookery into perspective. If you are a young food historian, say 35 or younger, it might be a really good thing to take a look at this book, in order to understand the great changes that have occurred over just your lifetime. Oddly enough, Arugula is categorized among Current Affairs books!
In his website, Kamp writes: "One of my stock lines in describing The United States of Arugula is that it's the story of "how we went from Velveeta and Wonder Bread to chevre and artisanal loaves."
US of Arugula is available in paperback now, from Broadway Books, at $26.00 ISBN 0-7679-1579-3. Trade Paperback, 416 pages.
Three Meals a Day, A Collection of Valuable and Reliable Recipes in All Classes of Cookery by Maud C. Cooke.
Three Meals a Day, A Collection of Valuable and Reliable Recipes in All Classes of Cookery, by Maud C. Cooke, originally published in 1890, Chicago by the Acme Publishing House, has been reprinted in facsimile by St. Johann Press in Haworth, New Jersey. The cookery section is full of familiarly user-friendly late 19th century recipes, there is a section of laying the table, and instructions for how to order serving the meal. A section devoted to hygiene and health may prove useful for living history museums recreating the time period.
I asked the publisher, David Biesel, why they chose this book. The story of its publication, is, I think interesting: This is what he wrote: "The book has an interesting history. It was given to me (David) by a friend of the family at a family get together in 1976 or 1977. He knew I was in publishing (Macmillian at the time) and he asked why couldn't publishers publish good books like Three Meals a Day. It had been in his family for a long time, shortly after publication. I looked at it, liked it, but realized that to reset, etc. would be expensive (remember this is 1970s) and probably not profitable. He gave me the copy (he was late 70s) and said maybe someday I could get it republished."
"Fast forward through my publishing career, …. In 1991, I decided to go out on my own as a 'book packager', Diane gave us the name St. Johann Press which is named for the old town section of Saarbrucken from where the Biesels came from in 1848 as saddlers to New York City. About 1998, John Spong (the now retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark) asked if we would be interested in reprinting his earlier works … and we said yes. Then if John Spong why not Maud Cooke? Thus started St. Johann Press as a book publisher."
"But without an author to call up and ask how are things going (I sent my pages back yesterday -- where is the book) the book took a slow road. It was in terrible shape, but our friends (35 years) at G&H Soho took it as a challenge to show what they could do with such a problem. (Including recreating words that were illegible by electronically "moving" other words or letters.) People ask what type of books do you publish (including our own family!) and Diane's response is "Books we like." (She is a retired school librarian.) Diane is a great cook and I love the "home economics" (look for the ringworm cure). We try to publish books that we call 'evergreen or archival.'"
It is available for $24.95 in paperback from St. Johann Press, 315 Schraalenburgh Rd., P. O. Box 241, Haworth, NJ, 07641. You can call them at 201-387-1529, or fax them at 201-501-0698. If you wish to reach the publishers by email, this is the address: email@example.com. ISBN #1-878282-02-6Feast: Why Humans Share Food by Martin Jones
Feast: Why Humans Share Food by Martin Jones, professor of Archaeological Science at the University of Cambridge, England, points out that humans and their nearest relatives in the animal kingdom, share food socially instead of snapping and growling and stealing one another's food - well, at least after it is on the table. He brings the archaeologist's science to the topic, turning to ancient evidence of hearths and cooking, the behavior of chimpanzees, the development of tools for handling food, and the development of social customs. He believes that our habits of cooking and eating together advanced human capacity to evolve cultures.
Feast has proved to be a gripping read. Published by Oxford Univ. Press, it takes a very long view of humans eating together. It is a habit we have in common with certain of our wild relatives, and have engaged in at least half a million years, even before we learned to cook. He reports on the archaeological evidence, including the new and fascinating evidence that comes from sophisticated chemical analysis of residues in human bone and hair, in coprolites (fossilized feces), and in the traces of food oils, seeds, wine, found in pottery and around food storage places, early kitchens, milling equipment, and so on. Jones brings us up through time, interpreting scenarios imagined and recorded ones, derived from the artifacts uncovered with specific sites. The final chapter is about TV dinners. Of course, I don't know enough about the subject matter to be a very effective critical thinker but the book turned my mind around about a few things, always a useful experience.
Food and the City in Europe since 1800. Edited by Peter Atkins, Peter Lummel, and Derek J. Oddy.
Food and the City in Europe since 1800 is the proceedings of the 19th symposium of The International Commission for Research on European Food History, held in Berlin in 2005. Editors are Peter Atkins, Peter Lummel and Derek J. Oddy, to be published 5th July 2007 in Aldershot by Ashgate. International Standard Book Number: 0 7546 4989 X, price Price: 55. To place an order, please contact Bookpoint Ltd, Ashgate Publishing Direct Sales, 130 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4SB, United Kingdom, Tel:+44 (0) 1235 827730, Fax:+44 (0) 1235 400454.
The Herbalist in the Kitchen by Gary Allen.
Hebalist Gary Allen said, "it only took a dozen years or so to make it from initial research into print." It is The Herbalist in the Kitchen, 576 pages, 6 x 9 inches. 56 line drawings. Cloth, ISBN 0-252-03162-8. $65.00. You can purchase it here http://www.press.uillinois.edu/s07/allen.html. More information about it and even some samples are at this website. Check it out.To read a British review of this book you can click here. Click here to order the book from Oxford Univ. Press of America. Here are the details: ISBN13: 9780199209019ISBN10: 0199209014 hardback, 368 pages, $35.00 (01) 368 pages; 40 halftones; 6-1/4 x 9-3/8; ISBN13: 978-0-19-920901-9ISBN10: 0-19-920901-4
Curry: a Tale of Cooks & Conquerors by Lizzie Collingham
Curry: a Tale of Cooks & Conquerors, by Lizzie Collingham (Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN-978-0-19-532001-5) is now available in paperback for $15.95. Our friend and subscriber Marian Walke commented on this book for us a while ago: "Collingham includes a wonderful collection of well-documented tidbits, including Eliza Acton's recipe for curry powder -- a decade after Mrs. Randolph (and MUCH milder!); the introduction of chillies and tomatoes into southern India by Portuguese traders before 1600; the difference between Indian, English, and Anglo-Indian "curry"; a brief exploration of ketchup; and the amazing (to me, at least) news that while coffee conquered Europe in the 17th century and tea in the 18th, the Indian subcontinent did not develop a taste for tea until the 20th century, and then only after a concerted marketing campaign by the British. Oh, yes, and the difficulties young Gandhi experienced as a law student trying to maintain a vegetarian diet in Victorian London. I highly recommend this book."
The Oxford Companion to American Food And Drink
The Oxford Companion to American Food And Drink has appeared in print. Remember the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink that came out a couple of years ago? Well, this is a concise form of that, with errors of the last one corrected and more entries. [One of the good things about publishing is that the author/editor gets corrections sent to them because people love to find mistakes and straighten out the author.] I expect that this will be useful to some of you, particularly those with a casual interest or a beginner's curiosity about things, but who cannot afford the big two volume set, since this one will see for an affordable $49. something, and even cheaper at Amazon. It may settle an argument, or provide a sentence of background for the food writer. People with a serious interest in a topic really must look beyond either of these two works, using the bibliographies suggested, to more specific and in-depth material. How do I know? Because I wrote some of the entries, and so I have a close up and personal familiarity with the project .
I keep saying this but no one pays attention. IF YOU ARE A FOOD WRITER, and want to say something about the history of a dish, do us a favor: buy this book -- it is not that expensive, and before you call, write, or email me or my food history colleagues with a question, look it up in this book. Because guess where I will look first if you ask me? Just think how quickly you can get an answer this way....deadline looming and all that. The Companion has 608 pages, lots of gorgeous illustrations, and will cost $49.95, (ISBN 1-978-0195307962 and ISBN 019-5307968 - obviously one a hardcover the other soft, but the promo material doesn't say which is which.
The Banquet: Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance Europe by Ken Albala.
The Banquet: Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance Europe by our own Ken Albala comes from the University of Illinois Press. Ken is another of those very industrious sorts, and with the work he has done on other aspects of Medieval and Renaissance food history, this is a natural product. The book covers Western Europe 1520 through 1660 and Ken describes the transition from the heavily spiced and ornamented dish of the Medieval to the lighter fare of the Renaissance. This is a nice companion, in its way, to Nichola Fletcher's Charlemagne's Tablecloth. Ken describes the story of the ingredients of the dishes served at banquets with their specific meanings in the period, the staging of the banquet, national habits, and addresses such fascinating details as the carver's responsibility to match the humors of the food and his master's flesh.
This is available in cloth, 248 pages, for $40, ISBN 978-0-252-03133-5. University of Illinois Press has been publishing their Food Series for a few years now. Apparently no ladies have submitted manuscripts to them for their consideration.
Military High Life: Elegant Food Histories and Recipes. Agostino von Hassell, Herm Dillon.
Military High Life: Elegant Food Histories and Recipes showed up at my house, a big gorgeous book with lots of stunning illustrations, written by Agostino von Hassell and Herm Dillon and published by University Press of the South, New Orleans. Right away I thought this is one for John Rees, FHN's official military food columnist, and so shipped it off to him for his comments. I didn't know that Darra Goldstein of Gastronomica, had in her wisdom also asked him to review it. So now John has two copies of a book he doesn't admire very much. Why not?
Basically, John found it wasn't carefully researched, is thin, unbalanced in content, and riddled with misinformation. A few examples of factual mistakes John gave include that it was not the Emperor Napoleon who offered a prize for the development of a way to preserve food that lead to Nicholas Appert inventing a canning method but the French Directorate in 1795. (And if truth be known, Appert based his invention on even earlier preserving techniques.) Or that awful old saw about pepperpot soup and the troops at Valley Forge. And long time readers of FHN will recognize the story behind the other old saw about "the army marches on its belly" being attributed to Napoleon but, as John wrote years ago for us, the actual source was probably Frederick the Great, who wrote, "Understand that the foundation of an army is the belly." And one of these days we will run a piece on that venerable item, portable soup, which John points out the authors of Military High Life claimed to have been "likely concocted under the command of Admiral Nelson." And there were other problems.
Alas, we have here another example of a publisher, the University Press of the South, who ought to know better, jumping on the food history bandwagon, but not taking food history seriously enough to help the authors do a really good job. This book could have been vetted (by our own John Rees) and come out minus at least some glaring errors and perhaps with some ideas how to cover the topic more adequately. Just because a university press publishes something doesn't mean it is necessarily reliable; we don't expect better from commercial houses. Ah, well. Buy the book because "part of the proceeds are being donated to the Samaritan Village Veterans Program, New York City to help feed some of the more than 240,000 U.S. homeless veterans" which (since the gummint clearly isn't up to the task) is a very good reason to pay $35. Give the book to someone with a vast interest in the military who might also like to cook, but make sure they have a short memory, Military High Life: Elegant Food Histories and Recipes. Agostino von Hassell, Herm Dillon. New Orleans: University Press of the South, 2006. 162 pp. Illustrations. $34.95 (cloth). ISBN 1931948607. 1931948607
Fighting Old Nep: The Foodways of Enslaved Afro-Marylanders, 1634-1864, by Michael Twitty
Fighting Old Nep: The Foodways of Enslaved Afro-Marylanders, 1634-1864, by Michael Twitty, Director of Interpretation of the Menare Foundation Inc.'s living history project. From the information Michael sent comes this: "Fighting Old Nep is the only recent, comprehensive and full-length text to examine in depth the rise and development of African American cuisine in Maryland during slavery. An invaluable resource for culinary historians studying the foodways of Maryland, the Chesapeake, Upper South and Mid-Atlantic, and enthusiastic eaters interested in the legacy of African American foodways in American culture!" There are thirty-one recipes, mainly of lost dishes, plus those using heirloom crops, wild foods, that come from historic antebellum African American community traditions, for example Red Straw Persimmon Beer, Ashcakes in Poplar Leaves, Cow Horn Okra Soup, Fish Pepper Sauce, and Guinea Keat in Cabbage Leaves.
The book has 80 pages, traces specific ethnic links to West and Central Africa, the relationship between African foodways and those of Native America and Europe, the adjustment of African foodways in early Maryland and the development of Afro-Marylander cooking during The Peculiar Institution. The quotes, statistics, and n narratives drawn from over 50 primary and secondary sources. Michael says he includes sidebars about rice growing in Maryland, the real story behind yams vs. sweet potatoes, African contributions to Maryland agriculture and animal husbandry, plus the identity of Old Nep and how he inadvertently helped spark a national hero to fight to end slavery.
Ordering Information: Currently available for $7.00 (plus 2.50 shipping and handling) Living history museums can order books in blocks of 5, 40% discount per copy for gift shop sales. Mail order with check to Michael Twitty, 913 Maple Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20851. For all inquiries including speaking engagements and larger orders, contact Michael at Proff97@aol.com. Preview copies for museums or cultural centers considering selling the book, are available in excerpt form in protected PDF format or may be purchased as directed above.
Turkey: An American Story by Andy Smith
The Turkey: An American Story by Andrew Smith has just been released in time for Thanksgiving. You'll note that Kathleen Curtin and I both blurbed the book for Andy, who, now that he is retired, is churning books out faster than ever before. This is one of three more or less just out. Now the good thing about Andy is that he is not stuck in the perfectionist's trap of never saying anything until he is dead certain of it. He figures that if he is wrong someone will let him know, and they do, and he always footnotes things so that if your find your eyebrows rising you can always go look for yourself. Turkey is another in his series of single topic books that comprise a group portrait he is working towards, he says. It is good topic and this book certainly straightens out some common misconceptions. Published by University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 2006.
The Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food, by Andy Smith
Andy also has out The Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food. This is another Greenwood Book, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2006, and I hope every foodwriter and newspaper food reporter all across the country will buy this so that they will have at their fingertips the scoop on everything from chips to Twinkies. Those "who invented the Devil Dog" questions drive me up the wall even as I am aware that these are the foods that we all have in common no matter where in the country we live, or what our ethnic background is, or what social class we belong to. I just don't warm up to the topic and now I have a place to send them, hurrah.
Andy also has out Real American Food: Restaurants, Markets, and Shops Plus Favorite Hometown Recipes with Burt Wolf. New York: Rizzoli, 2006. You can visit Andy's website here.
The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine by John Folse
John Folse published one heck of a tome back a while, entitled The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine. I suppose folks in Louisiana have heard of it, but somehow I missed out on it, possibly because it was published by Folse's own publishing company, and because it is a huge, picture filled thing, unlikely to be bought casually by bookstore to have on hand in case someone might want it. It appears to me to be a thorough going examination of Louisiana's distinctive cookery. It was my pleasure to learn about this book from an interesting Louisiana native I met on Nantucket last week, Donna Leigh Emden, with whom I cooked for an event I spoke at. Donna Leigh and I had a grand time whipping up a few historic fish dishes including a couple out of Hannah Glasse, a lobster sauced baked codfish, and broiled oysters on the half shell, plus good old Yankee salt cod fish cakes made in appetizer size.
Folse's book was published by Chef John Folse and Company Publishing, 2517 South Phillippe Ave., Gonzales, LA, 70737, www.jfolse.com. Phone 225-644-6000.
A Handbook of Food Processing in Classical Rome by David L. Thurmond.
A Handbook of Food Processing in Classical Rome by David L. Thurmond is available or will be soon from Brill. If you have money to spend, I bet this one is going to be a tad more useful than Cooking with the Bible. The description says that it is "a careful analysis of Roman food processes, including those for cereals, olive oil, wine, other plant products, animal products, and condiments. The work combines analysis of literary and archaeological evidence with that of traditional comparative practices and modern food science." The emphasis is on grains, olive oil, and wines. Here is the content of Chapter One, Cereals: "Roman Cereal Grains, Parching, Threshing, Winnowing, Ensilage, Braying of Porridge Grains, Milling of Bread Grains, Bolting, Breadmaking, Leavening, Kneading." I hope the author got around to baking, too, but you can see the drift. David L. Thurmond received the Ph.D. in Classical Philology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992. Research interests include archaic Roman religion, Roman social history, and Greek and Roman technology. He currently resides in Durham, NC. ISBN: 90 04 15236 9. See the website.
Cooking with the Bible: Biblical Food, Feasts, and Lore by Anthony Chiffolo and The Rev. Dr. Rayner W. Hesse, Jr.
is a new product from Greenwood Press. Pardon my cynicism, but to me it looks aimed at religious home schoolers. The description of the book says, "Since biblical times, the Judeo-Christian lifestyle has centered on meals. Extending hospitality to both friends and strangers was a divine command, and an invitation to dine was sacred." Eighteen meals are featured and then a brief essay describing the theological, historical, and cultural significance of the feast follows. Next come separate recipes for the dishes served in the meal, followed by more commentary on the dish itself, preparation methods used in biblical times, how the dish was served, and the lore surrounding individual ingredients and dishes. The recipes are modified for modern people, with use of modern appliances, ingredients, etc. Chapters include the following: Entertaining Angels Unaware, Esther Saves Her People, Jesus Dines with the Pharisee, and Joseph Dines with His Brothers, The authors are Anthony Chiffolo and The Rev. Dr. Rayner W. Hesse, Jr. who have both published on religious topics, but not food history. As usual, Greenwood wants a lot for this book: $75 to be precise. ISBN: 0-313-33410-2. 416 pages, photos, maps. Greenwood Press, Publication Date: 10/30/2006.
I realize this is excessively grumpy of me, but I would like to point out that it was not just the Judeo-Christian "life-style"---man, I hate that word---that centered on meals, but rather it has been the human condition, all cultures, for most of recorded and unrecorded time, that centered on meals.
Curry: a Tale of Cooks & Conquerors, by Lizzie Collingham
There are curry recipes in the current FHN, in the piece on Northern/Southern seasonings. Longtime subscriber Marian Walke wrote to say she enjoyed the article and further said, "I have since been reading Curry: a Tale of Cooks & Conquerors, by Lizzie Collingham (Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN-13: 9780195172416 and ISBN-10: 0195172418)." For a Times review of the book check this out.
Marian goes on: "Collingham includes a wonderful collection of well-documented tidbits, including Eliza Acton's recipe for curry powder -- a decade after Mrs Randolph (and MUCH milder!); the introduction of chillies and tomatoes into southern India by Portuguese traders before 1600; the difference between Indian, English, and Anglo-Indian "curry"; a brief exploration of ketchup; and the amazing (to me, at least) news that while coffee conquered Europe in the 17th century and tea in the 18th, the Indian subcontinent did not develop a taste for tea until the 20th century, and then only after a concerted marketing campaign by the British. Oh, yes, and the difficulties young Gandhi experienced as a law student trying to maintain a vegetarian diet in Victorian London. I highly recommend this book."
Hearth and Home: Women and the Art of Open Hearth Cooking by Fiona Lucas.
Fiona Lucas, long time friend of and subscriber to FHN, plus a co-founder of the Culinary Historians of Ontario, accomplished hearth cook, and all-round good egg, has a book. This may very well be the just the ticket to keep new or would be food historians with no hearth cooking experience out of as much trouble as they would get into without it. Entitled Hearth and Home: Women and the Art of Open Hearth Cooking was published in June by Lorimer. You can see it here. The description says, "Today the fireplace with its crackling logs is a romantic icon representing the heart of the home, but not so long ago its role was much more than symbolic. A hearth or fireplace was an essential first fixture in Canadian homes and its warmth sustained the family in many ways. Whether in a longhouse, a fishing shack, a log cabin, a manor home, or on a thriving farm, the kitchen was the main workplace of Canadian women within family centred households for generations. Its central feature is the focal point of Hearth and Home, a social history that evokes the sights, smells, and tastes of historic kitchens. This book tells the story of the women who worked back-breaking hours tending the fire and using its energy with skill and resourceful creativity to nourish their families or feed a hungry fort. Fiona Lucas, culinary historian and practiced hearth cook, synthesizes the shared experience of the family cook across decades and cultures, along the way introducing readers to fascinating dishes such as the hedgehog pudding and tools such as the salamander and the spider. The text is illustrated with photographs from historic sites including Black Creek Pioneer Village, Louisbourg, Kings Landing, Upper Canada Village, and many others. This is a book that will appeal to readers of Canadian history, and to anyone who has puzzled over the now unusual kitchen tools once common in 19th-century homes."
There is a nice interview with Fiona here at Spadina House one of several historic sites in Toronto where Fiona works as a historian and does much staff training in historic cookery. Here are the details: paperback, 72 pages, Lorimer, 2006, ISBN: 1550289217, $19.95.
The Blue Grass Cook Book, by Minnie C. Fox's 1904, with a introduction by Toni Tipton-Martin.
The Blue Grass Cook Book, a reprint of Minnie C. Fox's 1904 compilation, has just been published by The University Press of Kentucky, with a fine new introduction by Toni Tipton-Martin. University Press information reports, "In Fox's time, the culinary history of black women in the South was usually characterized by demoralizing portraits of servants toiling in "big house" kitchens. In contrast, The Blue Grass Cook Book, with its photographs of African American cooks at work and a passionate introduction by Fox's brother, respected Kentucky novelist John Fox Jr., reveals the vital role of black cooks in the preparation and service required to establish the well-known tradition of Southern hospitality." Ms. Martin provides biographical information about the Fox family, and puts the book into well-balanced social and historical persepctive. The cookbook is a good description of Kentucky (and generally Southern) cookery of the last third or so of the 19th century. Illustrated with wonderfully dignified, black and white photographs of black cooks as they go about their work, it was orginally introduced by Minnie's brother John Fox, Jr., the novelist, whose essay is also included. ISBN 0-8131-2381-X, in cloth, $29.95, 448 pages. Univ. Press of Kentucky, 663 South Limestone St., Lexington, KY 40508-4008, and here on the web.
Putting Meat on the American Table by Roger Horowitz
Putting Meat on the American Table by Roger Horowitz landed here this week. The subtitle is "Taste, Technology, Transformation," and there are chapters on beef, pork, hot dogs, chicken, and convenience meat. Lots of footnotes, suggested further reading and an index. I haven't read it yet, but it has a reliable look to it, and was blurbed by people who know what they are talking about. The book has been published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Details: $35.00 hardcover, ISBN 0-8018-8240-0, 2005, 192 pp. 29 halftones, 8 line drawings. $19.00 for the paperback, ISBN 0-8018-8241-9.
Bones:Recipes, History, and Lore by Jennifer McLagan
Bones are not sufficiently valued--certainly not as they were in the past. A couple years ago or so, Jennifer McLagan emailed and asked me if I knew anything aobut the wishbone ceremony. I didn't. Still don't, though if I buy and read her new book, Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore, I might find out. You can see it here. I recall seeing marrow spoons in a silver display at Colonail Willaimsburg a number of yers ago, and thought then what a difference in attitudes now towards bones and marrow. The idea of eating marrow today makes some moderns retch, but people in the past appreciated the unctousness so much. All good cooks know that bone carries flavor.
The Pineapple: King of Fruits by Francesca Beauman
Pineapples was Francesca Beauman's passion, and the cause of an email inquiry here a couple years ago, too. Her book is now out, and she emailed to tell me about it: "Just to let you know that my book about the history of the pineapple, entitled The Pineapple: King of Fruits, was published last week by Chatto & Windus, priced £16.99. It's available in most U.K. bookshops. Alternatively, for those outside the U.K., it's at this website." This is sure to be a good addition to the food biography literature.
La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. St. Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking, translated by Paul Aratow.
La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. St. Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking, translated by Paul Aratow and published by Ten Speed Press. Written by housewife and professional chef Evelyn St. Ange in 1927, it guided cooks like Julia Child and Madeleine Kammen through classic French cookery. It contains 1300 recipes for all the basics, like Coq au Vin, Quiche Lorraine, and Cassoulet, has the original instructional illustrations. ISBN 1-58008-605-5, $40 I hardcover, 800 !! pages. It will be released in December. Check it out here at Ten Speed.
Cornbread Nation's #3: Foods of the Mountain South. Ronni Lundy, editor.
Foods of the Mountain Southis Cornbread Nation's #3 offering. Ronni Lundy is the editor of this collection of 40 pieces, including poems, stories and essays on food of the Appalachians, Ozarks, and "hillbilly diaspora." I always look forward to Cornbread Nation, published by the Southern Foodways Alliance which is doing so much to gather and preserve information about traditional Southern cookery. University of North Carolina Press publishes it for SFA. Look for ISBN 0-8078-5656-8, at a reasonable $17.95 in paperback.
Cornucopia, Being a Kitchen Entertainment and Cookbook, appears to be a kind of salad of recipes, food lore, and facts drawn from the Huntington Library's rare book collections by Judith Herman and Marguerite Shalett Herman. The press information sent out included a few pages, appropriately enough for this time of year, about pumpkins. Included were the rhyme "Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater," and descriptions from the 1896 Smiley's Cook Book, and William Rhind's 1842 History of the Vegetable Kingdom, plus Josselyn's recipes for "New England's Ancient Standing Dish," that is, stewed pumpkin, plus a pumpkin butter recipe from the 1890s Maude Cooke, Three Meals a Day. Then we have Mrs. Rorer's directions for drying pumpkins, plus Charles Ranshoffer's directions for pumpkin fried in small sticks from 1894, and lastly three pie recipes from Hannah Wooley's 1673, to the Guide to Service, 1842, and finally The New Hydropathic Cook-Book, 1869. If I had to guess, this book is going to be most useful as a omnium gatherum for food writers and publicists who always need fun facts, and a great fun read for anyone interested in food. Because there are no page numbers, publishers or any of the rest of that citation stuff a lot of us need, it might be useful to the more serious food historian as a key to sources or an introduction to a topic. University of California Press, ISBN 087328-213-2, hardback at $29.95, for 318 pages prettily illustrated and designed.
Appalachian Home Cooking: History, Culture and Recipes by Mark F. SohnAppalachian Home Cooking: History, Culture and Recipes by Mark F. Sohn
Appalachian Home Cooking: History, Culture and Recipes written by Mark F. Sohn, and published by the University Press of Kentucky, it is another book dedicated to a regional foodway. I am going to read it eagerly in order to see what is distinctive about Appalachia because, listen to this, this is how the press release begins: "Biscuits and gravy, chicken and dumplings, cornbread, green beans, fried chicken, apple pie....These foods and many others are at the heart of _______________" --- well, in this case, Appalachian home cooking. My challenge to you is, how else might you have ended that sentence??? My friend Sharon from Missouri would have said, "Missouri home cooking!" I hope we get lots of books like this so we can do an honest to goodness cheek by jowl comparison of all our various "regional" cookeries to see what we have in common and what is truly different among us. Meanwhile, you will like this book, too, full of lore, history, and recipes. ISBN 0-8131-9153-X, paper, $26.00. The University Press of Kentucky is here.
Libro de arte coquinaria by Maestro Martino, translated by Gillian Riley
Maestro Martino's Libro de arte coquinaria is available on CD ROM. This is interesting, probably ideal for people with small apartments or few bookcases. Octavo produces this, and it and reports that it is "undoubtedly one of the most important surviving cookery books of the Renaissance. His recipes presage modern practices in many respects, and his cuisine had an enduring influence on European cooking. The Octavo Edition of this manuscript from the Library of Congress includes a commentary and English translation by Gillian Riley, a foreword by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, and essays by Bruno Laurioux and Paul Shaw. Available on CD-ROM (ISBN 1-891788-83-3). US$40." Check it out here.
Mistresses of the Transient Hearth by Robin Campbell
Robin Campbell, a very long time subscriber, has just seen her book into print. Entitled Mistresses of the Transient Hearth, it is the story of early American military wives who lugged their crockery and cookery all over the country following their husbands from one post to another. Robin earned her PhD with this work, and there are chapters about all aspects of domestic life, including clothing and furnishing. The chapters on food and cooking, dining and entertaining, are, of course, the ones we are most enthusiastic about and Robin has done a great job with them. We see in these accounts that army wives being transferred around the country, often to difficult posts, stayed in touch with people at home, kept up on the latest fashions, and did all they could to maintain an accustomed style. Their choices tell us what the mainstream valued, and are very informative.
This book is in the Studies in American Popular History and Culture Series published by Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-97360-0; 192 pages, illustrations. List Price: $70.00. You can order it here. Or call 1-800-634-7064.
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South, by Marcie Cohen Ferris
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South, by our own Marcie Cohen Ferris, has just come out, the culmination of Marcie's dissertation work plus. Marcie, who grew up in Arkansas, began this study with an interest in her grandmother's recipes boxes where she noticed connections between Jewishness and Southerness, besides many family and friendship connections. The great strength of this book is that Marcie looked long and hard at the evidence of Jewish acculturation to living in the South, and observed the patterns that emerged. The book will have lasting value because of its authentic point of view. There is no forced grand theory of Jewish Southern cooking here, but rather a graceful description of what truly happened. Great illustrations, some recipes, oral history, and revealing annecdotes enrich the book.
Good old University of North Carolina Press came through with this one, ISBN 0-8078-2978-1, cloth, 344 pages, $29.95, available afer October 10. FMI check here. And Marcie has a blog you can check out as well.
Culinary Cultures of Europe: Identity, Diversity and Dialogue
Culinary Cultures of Europe: Identity, Diversity and Dialogue
The book Culinary Cultures of Europe: Identity, Diversity and Dialogue is just out, edited by Darra Goldstein and Kathrin Merkle. The announcement says: "There is nothing trivial about food: the study of culinary culture and its history provides an insight into broad social, political and economic changes in society. The present collection of essays reflects many of the important transitions through which 40 European countries have passed, and in this sense, it is a history book. It is also a colourful celebration of an enormously rich part of our cultural heritage. The tastes and smells of a country¹s traditional table are a meaningful route to an important part of its collective memory, accessible to everyone. Food is also one of the simplest and most direct ways to promote multicultural understanding. This book offers an excellent insight into the meaning of food culture and will be of interest to anyone who wishes to explore the diversity of our European cultural heritage."
Then they quote Tom Jaine, publisher, Petits Propos Culinaires and Prospect Books, whose judgement we trust: "We have ever identified our neighbours and friends by their culinary customs: here, in one book, is a ground breaking study, bringing to one table the infinity of dishes that make Europe today," he says. Hardcover, 500 pages! ISBN : 92-871-5744-8. Price 49 €/ 75 $ + 10% postage. (Gulp). Order here published by Council of Europe Publishing, Palais de l'Europe, 67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France.
Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa
The food of Sub-Saharan Africa is Fran Osseo-Asare's topic in the Greenwood Press's Food Culture Around the World series edited by our Ken Abala. I met Fran a few years ago at an IACP conference, and she told me of her interest in the topic, which thank goodness, she has been able to engage for all our benefits. Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa was released in June, and Fran's task was to cover 47 countries!! --- she took the regional approach, and like all the books in the series she covers historical and geographical features, major foods and ingredients, cooking techniques and equipment, social relations and food, typical and special occasion meals, and diet and health concerns. Now, I am going to cross my fingers that Fran will have the energy and live long enough to do a more exhaustive work on that territory than the Greenwood book can encompass. She is at work now on The Good Soup Comes from the Good Earth, a book about the regional cooking of Ghana. Please also visit her website, www.betumi.com.
Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa, by Fran Osseo-Assare, Hardback, 224 pages, list price $49.95, ISBN 0-313-32488-3. (Hardback doesn't begin to describe it: these books can be dropped from a ten story window in front of a speeding semi and come out of it unscathed: they have a special library binding; that's why they cost so much.) Now, to buy the book you will have to go to the Greenwood website or call 1-800-225-5800. Greenwood thinks its market is libraries, schools, etc., and hasn't tumbled to the fact that there are tons of us out there passionately interested in this stuff, who would like to go to our friendly local independent bookstore and buy these books.
Food Culture in Russia and Central Asia
Glenn Mack and Asele Surina's Food Culture in Russia and Central Asia. Our own Glenn is a food historian who trained in the culinary arts in Uzbekistan, Russia, Italy, and the United States. He is the Director of Education for the Culinary Academy of Austin and founded the Historic Foodways Group of Austin. He co-authored this book with his wife Asele, a Russian native and former journalist who now works as a translator and interpreter, and as the family archaeologist has worked at the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas on joint projects with an archaeological museum in Crimea, Ukraine. This is another in the Greenwood series, which you can see at this link.
BTW Jackie Newman did the series book on China and Laura Mason did England. The other authors names in the group do not sound familiar to me, but I trust Ken's judgement. There are now 12 in all, and they all cost $50. So you could drop $600 and have a complete beginner's guide to the food cultures of the world, but there are more to come, I am sure.
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