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CHoWLine - Back Issues





November 2000

Program:"'A Bird in de Han': African Americans, Chicken and the Power of Food Narratives"

Psyche Williams-Forson, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, examines in her dissertation the history of stereotypes relating Black people to chicken. Psyche is currently the Jessie Ball duPont Visiting Scholar of English at Western Maryland College.

Future Meetings

December 10: "Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash" by Susan Strasser

January 14: Program TBA

February 11: "The French Connection: The Rise of the Gourmet Kitchen in America" by John Ferry

March 11: 18th-century hearth cooking at Gunston Hall with Bob Magee and Brigitte Martin.

April 12: CHoW cooperative dinner. Please give suggestions for a theme to Francine Berkowitz or Sophie Frederickson.

May 20: Warren Belasco will bring us "Food in Popular Music."

It's Time to Renew!

Our membership year runs from October 1 through September 30, and now is the time to join or renew. If you have not already done so, a membership form is enclosed. We hope you will want to be a member for the 2000-2001 year.

Report: October 15 Meeting

Sandy Oliver spoke to us about "Discovering Saltwater Foodways: 19th-Century New Englanders and Their Food at Sea and Ashore." In keeping with the discussion about boiled puddings, Katherine Livingston has passed along the following, the text of which she found in W. and C. Baring-Gould's The Annotated Mother Goose:
When good King Arthur ruled this land,
He was a goodly king;
He bought three pecks of barley-meal
To make a bag-pudding.

A bag-pudding the king did make,
And stuffed it well with plumbs;
And in it put great lumps of fat,
As big as my two thumbs.

The king and queen did eat thereof,
And noblemen beside;
And what they could not eat that night,
The queen next morning fried.

Also in keeping with the theme of 19th-century New England cooking, we tasted molasses popcorn balls made by Sophie Frederickson, a Gold Cake made by Dianne Hennessy King, and a Silver Cake made by Mary Sue Latini, all using recipes from Sandy's book, and we gnawed on traditional hardtack which Sandy brought with her. Since she was going on to Boston to speak to the Culinary Historians there before returning home to the Maine island where she lives, and her program at our meeting had been preceded by talks at Strawbery Banke, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and The Smithsonian Associates program on "American Baking Traditions," she has promised to send the text of her presentation to us for inclusion in the December CHoWLine.

News Of Our Members

Willis Van Devanter is recovering from a broken leg and Carter reports that they expect to be back for our December meeting.

The Book Forager

To remind: November 9-13: the annual Goodwill Industries used book sale at the Washington Convention Center, Hall D. (Enter on H St., N.W.) Use Metro Center of Gallery Place stations. Hours: Nov. 9 & 10: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Nov. 11-12: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. For information, call 202 636-4225 x1219, 1211, 1255, or 1267; www.dcgoodwill.org.

Two more books have been purchased for the Eckles Library Culinary Collection. They are: Lydia Marie Child's The American Frugal Housewife (Facsimile of 1832 edition) and Fannie Farmer's The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook (Facsimile of the 1896 edition).

Gina Jenkins returned from a visit to Mexico with a newspaper article from Reforma describing an ambitious publication venture by that country's Director General of Popular Culture. Gina has translated the article for us, bought some of the books for her own library and has suggested that CHoW might like to purchase the complete set for the Eckles Library Culinary Collection. She is returning to Mexico in December, intends to buy the rest of the series for herself and is willing to bring back a complete set for us if CHoW members are interested. Below is the text of the July 24, 2000, article in Reforma:

A Compilation of the "Delicious" History of Mexico
by Yasmin Juandiego

A snake bite can be cured with chicken. For a week after the incident, the invalid should eat a chicken without salt, cooked in a new earthenware casserole. So begins one of the exceptional meals prepared by the Nahuas of Veracruz and included in one of the 50 volumes that contain approximately 6,000 recipes from Mexican cuisine.

Under the heading "Eating is a biological phenomenon, cooking is a cultural act," the Director General of Popular Culture launched Recetarios Indigenas y Popularas de Mexico [Indigenous and Popular Recipes of Mexico], the first series that promotes the understanding of gastronomy from an anthropological point of view.

Through fieldwork and oral history, a number of experts have worked for the past three years to prepare 50 books, the central theme being the three mainstays of Mexican food: corn, beans, and peppers. The books are bilingual -- in the language of the people who provided the information and in Spanish -- and present the recipes in their religious, traditional, or popular context. Some are no longer familiar, but were provided from the memory of the people of the varioius indigenous regions, explained Jose N. Iturriaga, Director of Popular Culture. "The collection sets a precedent in the history of national culture," said Iturriaga, "since gastronomy is approached as a cultural manifestation and not as popularization of 'folklore' as in commercial cookbooks."

After tomorrow [July 25, 2000] the books will be available in the Educal bookstores at a cost of 10 to 45 pesos, with a discount of 40 percent for students and teachers. The series contains nearly 2,000 examples, at a total investment of approximately 600,000 pesos. The Director said that the price of the books is close to their cost, because the purpose is to encourage interest in the national cuisine.

The hope of those participating cultural institutions and investigators is that the books will serve as reference material in the universities, and will spur new areas of research, explained Iturriaga, who said that during July one would find the first 32 volumes in bookstores, the remaining 18 to be available at the end of September.

"Those who succeed us at the beginning of December [in the new Administration] will continue the collection slowly, but in the first 50 volumes we cover the principal ethnic groups and states of the Republic of Mexico. We have projected areas that need to be explored and material for six more volumes. We are limited to delivering the number of books that it is possible to produce before the end of this Administration," he concluded.

To learn about Mexican origins through food is the purpose of the series Recetarios Indigenas y Populares de Mexico, concluded anthropologist Sonia Inglesias, investigator Alicia de Angeli, and promoter of Mexican cooking Chepina Peralta. "More than cookbooks, these volumes of study are important in light of globalization and the vogue of fast food. These books let us get back to our roots, to address the need for food without losing our traditional forms of eating," maintains de Angeli, who assisted in the adaptation of the recipes.

Peralta is organizing workshops for the series of cookbooks beginning the second two weeks of August in the Veracruz Cultural Center (Miguel Angel de Quevedo, #6876, in Mexico City). "Most of the ingredients called for in these published recipes can be found in the market," said Peralta, who weekly analyzed the content of each recipe with the researchers in her radio program aired on Radio ACIR Monday through Friday from 10 to 11 a.m.

"The series of cookbooks not only gives us access to gastronomy, but also the ability to understand our roots. Fortunately, in Mexico, there are publications by dedicated people interested in creating through food a bridge to our roots, but this collection of books seems to me a gift, a work of art," said the promoter of Mexican cooking.

Sonia Inglesias, who participated in the Corn cookbook, one of the 50 volumes in the series, said that she saw the book as an homage to the corn plant, to the women who created the dishes and to the men who through the centuries planted and understaood how to use it. "This is why it is important to present these books in a collection that we can use to further maintain our identity as Mexicans, indigenous or not."

The series Recetarios Indigenas y Populares de Mexico will be presented by the authors Laura Esquivel, Carlos Monsivais, Cristina Barros, and Chepina Peralta this Thursday at 8 p.m. in the National Museum of Popular Culture, Avenue Hidalgo 289, Colonia del Carmen, Coyoacan, Mexico City, telephone 55-54-89-68 and 83-57.

Among those volumes available this month are indigenous recipes from the south of Veracruz; Corn; the Mayan people of the state of Quintana Roo; the Nahuas of the state of Morelos; the semi-desert region of Queretaro; the Xoconostle of the state of Guanajuata; the peoples of the state of Puebla; and the food of the Tarahumaras. Available by the end of September will be, among others, recipes for fish and seafood; popular food of Chilpancingo and Tixtla; the Mennonites of Chihuahua; and Flowers in Mexican Cooking.

El que come y canta ... Cancionero gastronomico de Mexico [Those Who Eat and Sing, A Culinary Songbook of Mexico], is another of the projects in the program which it is believed will open a new area of investigation in the Administration of Popular Culture: gastronomy. The two volumes of songs, which bring together 400 texts about food in tunes that extend from folk to rock, will be available in October.

The songs, some in traditional indigenous languages, are divided into different categories: beverages, meat, tortillas, soup, vegetables, cooking utensils, and recipes. Each of these categories contains a brief analysis of the songs without, however, including the musical scores.

On The Bookshelf

Member of CHoW/DC have been invited by Diane M. Spivey to attend a tasting, talk and booksigning for her new book, The Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool Cookbook: The Global Migration of African Cuisine on Thursday, November 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Georgetown (3040 M St., N.W.). Ms. Spivey is an independent scholar and research associate with the Department of History at the University of Miami. The book traces and documents the African continent's agricultural and mineral prosperity and the strong role played by explorers, merchants, and travelers from Africa's east and west coasts in making lasting culinary and cultural marks on the United States, the Caribbean, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, India, and Southeast Asia.

On The Reading Table

Meeting notice of the Historic Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley, October, 2000.
Meeting notice of the Culinary Historians of Southern California, October, 2000.
Notice of the Radcliffe Culinary Friends' Fall Culinary Event on Nov. 19, 2000.

Shirley Cherkasky's paper, "The Birthday Cake: Its Evolution from a Rite of the Elite to the Right of Everyone," read at our May 2000 meeting, is available in abbreviated form. For a copy of the endnotes, please contact her.

More Suggestions for Appropriate Books for the Eckles Library Collection

Bower, Anne (ed.) Recipes for Reading: Community Cookbooks, Stories, History
Carson, Barbara, Ambitious Appetites
Carson, Jane, Colonial Virginia Cookery
David, Elizabeth, Harvest of the Cold Months: The Social History of Ice and Ices
Drummond, J.C. & Anne Wilbraham, The Englishman's Food: A History of Five Centuries of English Diet
Hess, Karen, The Carolina Rice Kitchen, and Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery
Hooker, Richard J. (ed.), A Colonial Plantation Cookbook: The Receipt Book of Harriott Pinckney Horry, 1770
Kimball, Marie, Thomas Jefferson's Cookbook
Peterson, T. Sarah, Acquired Taste: The French Origins of Modern Cooking
Mrs Rorer's Philadelphia Cook Book (1896)
Schivelbusch, Wolfgang, Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants
Wilson, C. Anne (ed.), The Appetite and the Eye, and Food and Drink in Britain
Winegardner, Mark (ed.), We Are What We Ate
Platina, De honesta voluptate (Venice, L. DeAguila, 1475), vol V, Mallinckrodt Collection
The Closet of Sir Kenelme Digbie Opened (London 1669), vol. VI, Mallinckrodt Collection