Important Information about Parking on Campus:
No parking is permitted in the circle in front of the Library or on the Quad. You may park in metered spaces (no charge on Sunday) in the parking lot on the right, inside the W Street entrance, or in the campus metered parking garage off Whitehaven ($1.50/hour). Parking on W Street is not encouraged.
Dar Curtis, director of Solar Household Energy, Inc., spoke to us about "Solar Cooking: Cuisine for a Sunny Day," and described how the three solar cookers he had brought with him worked, what their costs were, and how they had been developed. More information on his talk appears at the end of this issue.
Refreshments volunteers needed: Kari reports that she always welcomes offers of refreshments from other CHoW members, particularly foods related to the theme of the meeting.
Cookbook Exchange: Claudia Kousoulas invited CHoW members to bring any unwanted food books to meetings to be offered to other members who may want them. This will be an informal, ongoing activity, and books to be given away should be placed on the left end of the Reading Table.
E-notices from other organizations: Claudia also announced that henceforth, when CHoW receives notices of food-related events from other organizations that arrive too late to be listed in CHoWLine, secretary Francine Berkowitz will forward the messages to all members who have provided their email addresses. If you do not wish to be included in such e-mailings, please let Francine know (email@example.com).
Adding to the above appeal by Dianne, Claudia says, "Dianne's suggestions that we share techniques for saving family culinary history, inspired by Claire Cassidy's talk scheduled for March, brought to mind a barely two-page essay by Alan Davidson included in A Kipper with My Tea (North Point Press, 1987). He describes the Thai tradition of Funeral Cookbooks, 'whereby a person composes a small notebook before his or her death, so that it can be distributed as a keepsake to the mourners attending the funeral.'
Davidson writes that the book's recipes and design are carefully considered and he finds the idea attractive. 'What other would equally well keep one's memory green among friends?' He gives consideration to composing his own, enjoying the thought of updating it over time, adding greater refinements and particulars. Although he speculates that outside the Thai culture a funeral cookbook might be received with 'surprise and even criticism in the damp and muddy driveway of the crematorium.'
It sounds grim at first but, upon reflection, wouldn't we all be glad to have funeral cookbooks of our own forebears? I admit to composing mine in my head on sleepless nights and perhaps it's time to commit it to computer."
The collection eventually will be fully cataloged with an acknowledgement as the CHoW Collection, and thus the citations will be accessible via many search engines on the web. In the meantime, the Smithsonian wishes to establish a preliminary catalog that will be available on the Smithsonian Libraries website. If you would like to volunteer to help with the preliminary cataloging, please let Laura know.
The symposium is free and open to the public but reservations are requested. For further information on both the symposium and the dinner: 202 994-2190; corrected web site address www.gwu.edu/~judaic/350/food_conf.htm
October 16: "What is American Food and Drink?," a celebration of the release of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, sponsored by Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian and Oxford University Press. You are invited to join a discussion among some of the contributing writers, food historians, chefs, critics, and curators of the exhibition, "Bon Appetit: Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian."
The program begins at 1 p.m. in Carmichael Auditorium of the National Museum of American History, and is free and open to the public.It will be followed by a reception to which all CHoW members will be invited. If, by chance, you do not receive an emailed or snailmailed invitation, please contact Dianne King (703 281-5281; TUCKKING@AOL.COM)
Boston University's plans to offer courses in Washington, DC, for the Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy, beginning in September 2004, have been postponed to a later date. We will keep you informed about further develoments.
Meeting e-notice, Culinary Historians of Southern California, October, 2004.
Meeting notices, Culinary Historians of Chicago, September 2004.
Gravy, newsletter of the Southern Foodways Alliance, No. 15, Summer 2004.
Dar Curtis brought with him to the CHoW meeting examples of three different solar cooking stoves or ovens, and discussed how they can be used for braising, stewing, and baking food and to sterilize driking water. For further information, log on to the SHE,Inc. web site at www.she-inc.org.
Preserving Food with Solar Energy
The article below, by Richard Hartel, professor of food engineering in the department of food science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is reprinted from a July issue of The Capital Times of Madison, WI.
"Remember those California Raisins characters from a few years ago? Although they turned into a tremendous marketing ploy, with figurines and even their own television show, their message was simple: raisins are good for you.
Raisins, or dried grapes, a healthful snack, come in to varieties: the standard brown raisin or the more colorful and slightly sweeter golden raisin. What's the difference? Do brown raisins come from brown (or red) grapes, in the same way that chocolate milk comes from brown cows?
Nope, you'd be wrong about both. Look at the packages for brown and golden raisins and you'll be surprised to see that they both start out as green seedless grapes.
The differences in brown and golden raisins come from two things: how they're made and what else is added. The ingredients list on brown raisins has only one item: raisins. On golden raisins, however, a second ingredient is found: sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide helps to preserve raisins and also affects the color.
To make regular brown raisins, green grapes are harvested from the vine and generally left to dry in the sun in the rows between the vines. Drying can take up to two weeks, depending on sunshine and temperature. Southern California has just the right sunny climate needed for drying grapes. That's why California Raisins wore sunglasses. If a Wisconsin vineyard tried to dry grapes into raisins, what would the Wisconsin Raisins wear -- a cheese[head] had to keep off the rain and snow?
During drying, several chemical reactions take place that lead to the brown color. One of the most important reactions is called the Maillard browing reaction, which was named after a French chemist who first studied the reaction. Certain sugars and proteins react together in a complex series of steps, creating distinctive flavors and brown pigments. This same reaction browns bread during baking and toast during toasting (but not apples after slicing; that's a different reaction).
Sun drying creates ideal conditions for Maillard browning in raisins: warm temperatures and intermediate moisture contents. That means a deep tan for California Raisins. Wisconsin Raisins would be a lot paler because they would get much less sun and it's generally not warm enough most of the year.
To speed things up, the grapes could also be dried in a forced-air drier, where warm, dry air blows across the grapes to quickly remove the moisture. Grapes could be dried in just a few hours in this way. However, the raisins wouldn't be very brown because the conditions and time would not promote Maillard browning. They would look more like Wisconsin raisins, a pale whitish color.
But that's exactly what we want when making golden raisins. To make golden raisins, grapes are dried under conditions that do not promote browing so they retain much of the original color of the grape. Raisins that are not nearly so brown can be made by rapidly drying rapidly to inhibit the Maillare browning reaction. Adding sulfur dioxide also helps prevent the brown coloring by inhibiting certain steps in the Maillard browning reaction.
California Raisins develop that deep brown color from drying in the sun. Wisconsin Raisins, on the other hand, would be the paler variety because they would have to be dried indoors to avoid the cold rain, and snow."