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CHoWLine - Back Issues





January 2006

Program: Our Annual Cooperative Dinner with the theme of "Caribbean Holiday."

Suggestions for recipe sources are listed below. Plates, cups, bowls, eating utensils, and napkins will be provided but please bring your own serving utensils.

Directions: Alexandria House (tallest building in Old Town) is at the intersection of N. Pitt and Madison Sts., just 5 minutes south of National Airport. Pitt St. is parallel to and 2 blocks east of Washington St. (George Washington Parksay), toward the Potomac River. From the south, Madison St. is 7 blocks north of King St. From the north, enter Alexandria on the Parkway, turn left at Madison St. (5th traffic light) and go 2 blocks. Park on the street. The entrance to Alexandria house is off Pitt St. You will be met in the lobby.

Inclement Weather Plans

If we have sufficient warning about stormy weather of heavy snow, we will send an e-mail to warn of possible cancellation of a meeting, but members are advised to check by phone or e-mail with any Board member.

Future Meetings

February 12: Joan Nathan - "Innovators and Innovations in the Last Forty Years: The New American Cooking"
March 12: Charlotte Hays - "Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies' Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral."
April 9: TBA
May 7: TBA

Proposed Amendments to the By-Laws

Click HERE for the proposed amendments to our by-laws. We will vote on all proposed amendments at our February 12 meeting. You may request a mailed, e-mailed, or faxed copy from Felice Caspar (202) 857-6591; (703) 560-7191.

An Invitation

Members of CHoW and friends are invited to an Ambassador's Cultural Event at the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt on January 17 at 6:30 pm: "A Taste of Egype: 7,000 Years of History and Three World Religions at the Heart of One Cuisine." CHoW member Amy Riolo will give a 25-minute presentation entitled "Lessons from the Umayyads, Abbasids, and Fatimids: Enlightenment, Exchange, and Feasts from the Early Islamic Period in Cairo." There will be appropriate refreshments, a brief reception and a question and answer session. Please reply to Francis Dimaandal, Social Secretary at (202) 895-5463. The Embassy address is 3521 International Court, N.W., Washington, DC 20008.

Resources for Caribbean Foods

Felice Caspar and Amy Snyder Suggest:
www.recipesource.com/ethnic/americas/carribean/ (with 87 authentic recipes)

The Washington Post lists 19 Caribbean restaurants/bakeries at www.washingtonpost.com (Click on Entertainment, click on Restaurants)

Claire Cassidy writes: Caribbean foods derive from many origins in Africa, Europe, and the aboriginal Americans, plus additions from India and East Asia - all mixed and matched with available tropical foods. Google "Caribbean Foods" and you'll instantly be linked to a huge database. May be best to decide first what sort of dish you want to bring: entree, vegetable, salad, or dessert, because there are thousands of recipes. Or visit your library for recipes and photos of finished dishes. Remember you can choose from recipes that originate in English, French, Dutch, Spanish, even Danish cuisines, and still be in the Caribbean!

Look in the Yellow Pages for Latino, Asian, or Caribbean markets to provide specialty foods.

Examples of typical ingredients of the Caribbean:
Spices: allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cilantro, achiote, curry, and hot peppers, especially Scotch Bonnet (very hot!)
Fruits: mango, papaya, cherimoya, star fruit, pineapple, banana, guava, lime, citrus of all kinds, tamarind, all kinds of dried fruit to put in Black Cake, coconut meat, water, and milk (you can get the milk in cans; and Asian stores often have frozen coconut water but it may have added sugar)
Vegetables: cho-cho (a kind of green squash), pumpkin (rather like Hubbard squash), callaloo (a green leaf much like spinach), okra, ackee (a Jamaican delicacy found only canned; looks rather like scrambled eggs when cooked), yam (white and hard), breadfruit (white and hard), sweet potato (orange or yellow), plantains, "peas" (what we call beans) -- red beans, black beans, and pigeon peas (white).
Meats/Fish: salt fish/mackerel/cod, goat, chicken, and anything fresh from the sea
Starches: rice, cassava, corn/cornmeal, white wheat flour
Drinks: focus is on cool and fruity, but fundamental is RUM. Use dark rum if you want to be authentic.

Claudia Kousoulas reports that York Castle Ice Cream, 9324 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, has flavors such as soursop, Guiness, and Irish moss; and the Negril Bakery 965 Thayer Ave., Silver Spring, has Jamaican foods. The Caribbean Market is at 7505 New Hampshire Ave., Langley Park, MD.

Report: December 11 Meeting

A vote by those present at the meeting decided that the theme for the January Cooperative Dinner will be "Caribbean Holiday" (Caribbean food).

Pelin Aylangan's talk, "Traveling Through Turkey's Tea Culture," has been summarized by Pelin and appears at the end of this issue.

Members brought traditional Turkish sweets and savory items. Kari Barrett - Walnut Cake, surprisingly like a crunchy yet chewy cookie; Renee Catacalos - Ay Coregi, Turkish crescent cookies with candied fruit and nut filling; Amy Riolo - Revani, a semolina cake with syrup and pistachios; Claudia Kousoulas - Yogurt Borek; Felice Caspar - Muhammara, a spread made of red bell peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate syrup, served with Pide (Turkish flatbread); and Bryna Freyer - Turkish apricots. Several kinds of Turkish Delight (carrot, pistachio, rose, and other flavors) were brought by Hanne Caraher and Zina Pizarko Musgrove and our speaker, Pelin Aylangan, who also provided flat biscuits and brewed Turkish tea served with sugar cubes in traditional glasses with decorated saucers.


Does anyone have access to a protable podium, and/or equipment for a PowerPoint Projector that CHoW could use occasionally for our meetings? Please let Claudia Kousoulas know if you do.

CHoW By-Laws Proposed Amendments

The Board of Directors of CHoW determined that the organization's by-laws should be reviewed to ensure that they still best serve the organization, which was founded in October 1996. A By-Laws Committee comprised of Laura Gilliam, Shirley Cherkasky, and Felice Caspar has presented its recommendations to the Board, which has considered, amended, and endorsed the proposals.

In a nutshell, changes to the composition of the Board are recommended to facilitate CHoW's outreach to members and to place more emphasis on CHoW's communication vehicles - the newsletter and website -- in keeping with CHoW's purpose stated in Article II: "to promote and support interest and research in the history of foods, cuisines, and culinary customs." To this end, it is recommended that CHoW elect a Membership Secretary, and that the appointed Newsletter Editor and Web Master be voting members of the Board. Additionally, proposed amendments provide, if a vacancy in the office of President should occur, a procedure to fill the vacancy and, for continuity, to permit the Treasurer, Recording Secretary, and Membership Secretary to serve up to four consecutive one-year terms. Other amendments are proposed to simplify and streamline the procedure for amending CHoW's by-laws.

We urge you to read and consider the proposed amendments prior to the February meeting.

Voting on all amendments will take place at our February 12 meeting. An absentee ballot will appear in the February issue of CHoWLine for use by those who cannot attend the meeting.

Wanted: An Editor for CHoWLine

Since the current editor will be retiring in June after ten years, CHoW is actively seeking a new editor who is able and willing to put together monthly issues for our September to May meetings each year.

Proofreading skills, some interest in writing (although much of CHoWLine's content has been contributed by CHoW Board and regular members), the ability to meet deadlines, to keep a lid on costs, and computer know-how all are essential. Since the current editor has the bare minimum of computer skills and a tired old computer, better-looking issues will be welcome. The current editor will be available until June to work with her replacement, if desired.

News from Other Organizations

Two programs at Historic Green Spring:
Sunday, January 5, 1-3 pm: "Unusual Tisanes and Herbal Infusions," beverages containing no tea and rarely any caffeine. Taste sampling and information.
Sunday, February 12, 1-3 pm: "Chocolate Lover's Valentine's Tea," tasting of an authentic 18th-century recipe for chocolate and also some chocolate tea.
Historic Green Spring is at 4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria, VA 22312
By reservation only with a nonrefundable prepayment. Call (703) 941-7987.

On The Bookshelf

Poet of the Appetites: the Life and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher by Joan Reardon (North Point Press, 2004; $15, paper, 509 pg) Reviewed by Claudia Kousoulas (c) 2005.

M.F.K. Fisher wrote about supper suitable for a PTA meeting and about walking away from her life to begin anew with her artist lover on an Alpine mountaintop. Within one woman, many women, but one who explored every role of being a woman - daughter, wife, mother, lover and, most importantly, writer.

For cooks, Fisher's most vivid works record the simple and deep sensual pleasures of the kitchen, from the perfect number at a dinner table to transcendant French cafes. But Fisher also records the other side of the knife's edge - the tedium of being required to produce regular meals and the frustrations of eating under someone else's regime.

Food and mystery seem to be all we know of FIsher, but even she tired of the food writing that would make her an icon, and in this meticulous biography Reardon neatly traces the arc of her life, both professionally and personally. Fisher's work encompasses Hollywood and magazine writing, teaching, and traveling. Her personal life had a complicated cast and path that Fisher drew on for inspiration, mining her own feelings and capturing them on the page. Reardon doesn't psychoanalyze - Fisher did enough of that herself - but traces Fisher's life through letters and her work.

The broad map of Fisher's life, from a California upbringing to a personally revelatory expat life in France, and ultimately back to California is a path traced by so many chefs who now cook and write cookbooks. A whole generation read Fisher, made their own pilgrimages, and returned to glorify American dishes, infusing them with a bit of Provence, even if it's nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil.

There's a bit of Virginia Woolf here as well. For much of her life, Fisher was caught between caring for parents and children, finding time to fit in paying work, and desperately seeking some time and space to write and simply be herself.

When she did write, it was eloquently about French markets or canned soup. She could be eloquent about both because she connected these two very different food resources to people and their emotions. The French market speaks for itself, but the canned soup was the genesis of a simple dinner suitable for when the day has been too much with us. With sharp prose, she elevates a cop-out dinner to the elegance of ascetic retreat. We are not just gourmets but human beings with needs that food can meet or express.

In all her work, Fisher dealt with the matters of revealing and self-definition, translating her personality into characters and her life into plots. And yet she would steadfastly defend the walls. "I don't reveal myself in this book," she wrote, referring to her novel Not Now But Now, "any more than I do in an article for Harper's Bazaar... And you can say that is completely, or not at all. She seemed to share so much whild revealing so little.

For so many readers who have read and reread her evocative pieces on extraofdinary meals and everyday cooking, this book finally answers many questions and pins down events, giving shape to a life that rolled along, leaving an increasing and expanding mark on the world.

As a yeoman writer, devoted to earning, Fisher describes herself as "established in a limited, and fortunately sparsely inhabited field of upper-class comment on the pleasures of the table." Through much of her career, she questioned her own seriousness and ability, through she did produce a definitive translation of Brillat Savarin's The Physiology of Taste,

At the end of her life, Fisher relocated to Napa, at the opportune postwar moment of its resurgence as a wine place and its beginning as a gourmet mecca. She naturally became involved in those efforts, and at the very end of her life would herself become a mecca for aspiring food writers.

She met James Beard and Julia Child and came to be viewed as an American food expert. "It amuses me to find myself turning into a very minor Eminence Grise here on the West Coast," she wrote in 1975 and, indeed, as Reardon notes, the 1980s "would be the apogee of her public recognition." Her work was reissued in various editions and unpublished work was unearthed.

While some claimed her work was saccharine, Fisher would be the first to dismiss some old magazine piece as humbuggery or nostalgia. But in these days of fast food, it's nice to get nostalgic about French markets and canned soup.

More Books

Katherine Livingston gives us brief information on other recent food books:

Anderson, Eugene N., Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture (New York University Press, New York, 2005). An anthropologist examines social and cultural factors underlying food choice, from differences in sensory perception to production and distribution systems, with special attention to China, Mayan Mexico, and the Mediterranean.

Cleland, Elizabeth, A New and Easy Method of Cookery (Prospect Books, Totnes, UK 2005) Facsimile reprint of the second cookbook (1755) to be published in Scotland; introduction by Peter Brears, restorer of the Hampton Court kitchens.

Flanders, Judith, Inside the VictorianHome: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England, (Norton, New York, 2005, paper) An account of household arrangements room by room, including the morning room, the sick room and, of course, the kitchen and scullery.

Gold, Barbara K. and John F. Donahue (eds.) Roman Dining. Special issue (vol. 124, no. 3) of American Journal of Philology. (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2005). Five articles on Roman (mainly elite) foodways before the end of the Republic.

Helici, Nevin, Sufi Cuisine (Saqi Books, London, 2005). Over 100 recipes for sherbets and dishes containing such ingredients as gold vark, sheep's fat tail, and verjuice, interspersed with writings of the mystic Rumi (ca. 1207-1273) who employed many food metaphors in his works. Foreword by Claudia Roden.

Hughes, Kathryn, Cooking Up a Storm: The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton (Fourth Estate, London, 2005). An account of the career of the famous domestic advisor in the changing Victorian world, her role in the publishing house founded by her husband, the sources she mined for her famous Book of Household Management, and the creation and maintenance of the "Mrs. Beeton" persona.

Kaufmann, Jean-Claude, Casseroles, Amour et Crises (Armand Colin, Paris, 2005). A sociologist reports on the decline of the family meal as a culinary and social event in France, even as the ideal persists.

On The Reading Table

Newsletter, Culinary Historians of Boston, Vol. XXVI, No. 4.
Culinary Chronicles, newsletter, Culinary Historians of Ontario.
Meeting e-notice, Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin, January 2006.
Announcement and subscription form: Alimentum, the Literature of Food, a new semiannual journal.

Traveling Through Turkey'S Tea Culture

by Pelin Aylangan

Ms. Aylangan is a Turkish American who has lived most of her life in the United States. She has been researching tea in Turkish culture since 2003 and is working on a book, "Tea Leaves, Tea Lives." She is the president of the American-Turkish Association (ATA-DC) in Washington, DC., an all-volunteer nonprofit organization established to promote Turkey and Turkish culture in the D.C. area. Ms. Aylangan works full-time as a consultant for D&B Government Solutions in Arlington, VA.

She has presented her slide-illustrated talk for The Smithsonian Associates in September 2003; at the annual convention of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, in Washington, DC in January 2004; and at the Meridian International Center in January 2005. She was quoted in the December 2003 issue of National Geographic in an article on tea in Turkey and featured in an article in the Turkish daily, Sabah, on July 27, 2003. Her article, "Tea in Turkey," appeared in the October 2004 issue of TEA: A MAGAZINE.

Ms Aylangan's presentation traces the economic and cultural history of tea in Turkey from its first importation in the late 1700s, to the beginning of tea cultivation as an economic necessity along the Black Sea coast in the early 1900s, to the present, where its consumption (and accompanying pastries) can be observed at every hour and every place in modern-day Turkey. It has come to symbolize Turkish hospitality.

The presentation is based on months of research, historical pictures, and photographs taken by Ms. Aylangan on her five-week journey through Turkey in May/June 2003, and a three-week trip in 2004. The lecture and slide show cover Turkey's tea culture in the following places:

Istanbul: tea gardens in historic Sultanahmet; afternoon tea along the Bosporus at the Ciragan Palace, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

Ankara: famous caycis and tea houses in the Ankara citadel.

Amasya: Amasyans drink so much tea that most of them carry a semaver, (an urn with a spigot used to boil water and make tea) in the trunk of their cars. Here, Ms. Aylangan meets the semaver craftsmen who must keep up with the demand.

Samsun: Ms. Aylangan visits bakeries where simit (sesame seed rings that Turks often eat with tea) are made.

Black Sea coast: Ms. Aylangan meets famous caycis (men who serve tea), who each offer their "secret methods" for brewing exceptional tea. Also includes the lives of tea growers and the production and packaging of tea.

Erzurum: where tea is taken in the kitlama style (with a sugar cube placed under the tongue), Ms. Aylangan meets women whose families have been in Erzurum for generations, and learns of the various tea customs that are still alive today.

Pasinler: The H. Rastu Ogullari Evi (tea house), famous for hosting every Turkish prime minister and president except the great leader Ataturk. At the tea house, Ms. Aylangan spends the day with elderly men, as they engage in atismalar (poetic repartee) over many glasses of tea.

Denizli: Ms. Aylangan visits Pasabahce, the famous glassworks factory, to see how the tulip-shaped tea glasses are made.