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CHoWLine - Back Issues





March 2001

Program: Dishes from The Virginia Housewife (Mary Randolph, 1824)

Bob Magee and Brigitte Martin will be preparing dishes from The Virginia Housewife. They promise that the receipts will be consistent with foodstuffs available in early March, including almost-used-up stored foods from the cellar. Some fresh vegetables begin to appear in the Alexandria and Washington markets around this time and they will take advantage of that - as the Mason family would have done. To the extent possible, the receipts will be re-created using ingredients that are as accurate as can be found. There will be interesting things for CHoW members to sample. Bob and Brigitte will start about 11:30 a.m., to prepare for the "Winter on the Plantation" program which begins officially at 1:00 p.m.

Admission to Gunston Hall will be free to those who identify themselves as CHoW members at the front desk, and we are encouraged to come early and enjoy a 30-minute house tour (given every half-hour). If the weather is nice, there are excavations in the garden, a nice view of the Potomac River, and farm animals and poultry that include some rare breeds.

Directions to Gunston Hall
From the North: From I-95 southbound (which can be slow on Sundays) take Exit 163. Turn left onto Lorton Rd. Turn right onto Armistead Rd. At the light, turn right onto U.S. Route 1 South. At the third light, turn left onto Gunston Rd. (SR 242). The Gunston Hall entrance drive is about 3.5 miles on the left.

From the South: From I-95 northbound, take Exit 161 onto U.S. Highway Route 1 North. At the light turn right onto Gunston Rd. (SR 242). The Gunston Hall entrance drive is about 3.5 miles on the left. Gunston Hall telephone: 703 550-9220.

Future Meetings

April 12: Paris Between-the-Wars (1920-1940) was an exciting place to be and many Americans who were there then have written about the events and the food of that period. Find copies of writings by or about Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein, M.F.K. Fisher, F. Scott Fitzgerald (whose grave, like Mary Randolph's, is in the Washington area) and Gerald Murphy, among others, and bring them to our March meeting so we can decide what foods and literary excerpts will be featured at our April cooperative dinner.

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

Report: February 11 Meeting

Sally Waltz's "whatzit," again eliciting no correct guesses as to its use, was a hay knife, used to cut through hay in the mow so that it could be dropped through the floor of the mow to the barn below, to feed the cows that provide us with milk and meat.

A proposal that CHoW plan a one-day field trip next January to the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg was met with enthusiasm. Farm animals and farm machinery are on exhibit and there will be a wide variety of food for sale. The Show is indoors and free, and takes place during the first full week of January. Sally Waltz will provide more detailed information before the event and car pool arrangements will be made for those who want to attend.

Willis Van Devanter reported that new material on Mary Randolph has been discovered at the White House. He'll follow up and keep us informed.

Since the subject of John Ferry's talk was the influence of French cuisine on the gourmet kitchen in America, refreshments provided for the meeting included a tarte tatin, a gooseberry/blueberry tart, crepes, madelines, and a pate and French bread.

News Of Our Members

Kay Shaw Nelson's new book, All Along the Rhine: Recipes, Wines & Lore from Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, & Holland has just been published by Hippocrene Books. A copy will be placed in the Eckles Library Culinary Collection. Kay's current project is a book on the foods of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

We now have 120 members and seven subscribers.

News of Other Organizations

On March 6 at 6:30 p.m., "A Celebration of Auguste Escoffier" and Dinner with Washington Chefs is being sponsored by The Smithsonian Associates. Chefs Francois Dionot and Michel Richard will discuss Escoffier's influence, and members of Les Dames d'Escoffier will rotate from table to table to talk about Escoffier with diners. At the Latham Hotel. The cost of the evening, including dinner, is $175 for TSA members; $220 for general admission.

Sally Epskamp announced that on June 16 at Pennsbury Manor, the same group from England who presented "Feeding the Court of Henry VIII" last June (see Dec. 2000 CHoWLine for Sally's report) will be returning to talk about the kitchens of Charles I, with a focus on 17th- century confectionery. Sally plans to return to Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, PA, for the June 16 program and will be happy to car pool with anyone else who would like to attend.

CHoW member Joan Janshego has provided information about Gourmet Couples, an organization that brings together couples who are interested in friendly dining and meeting others at small dinner parties in the comfort of their own homes. All that is required is an interest in good food and drink, a willingness to experiment and broaden your horizons, and a desire to help plan and prepare interesting dinners.

On February 20, Cynthia Ott, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student and predoctoral fellow at the National Museum of American History, spoke at a colloquium at the Museum on "How Dare You Call This Noble Fruit a Squash?: The Cultural History of Pumpkins."

More Culinary History Museums

We are grateful to The Proper Mustard, newsletter of the Mustard Museum of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, for information about the opening of a Vinegar Museum in Roslyn, North Dakota, in 1999 (1-800-342-4519; www.vinegarman.com)

The following announcement has been received from Liz Calvert Smith, food historian and advisor to the Museum of Culinary History and Alimentation (MoCHA):
The Museum of Culinary History and Alimentation in London will be dedicated to culinary history, science, and culture; in particular by the creation of an exhibition space housing permanent collections and temporary displays with facilities for research, demonstrations, and lectures. If you would like to be involved in this exciting development - the first museum of global culinary history - we would love to hear from you. MoCHA is actively seeking friends and funds. You can help simply by talking about MoCHA to your friends, or assisting in our publicity campaign. Fur further details please call Hilary Westwater, Development Officer (+44 020 8983 0820), or contact Joanna Crosby, Fundraising Officer (J.R.Crosby-Clark@open.ac.uk) MoCHA is also seeking corporate donations and sponsorship. We look forward to hearing from you and any support you can give will be greatly appreciated. MoCHA, 61 Malmesbury Rd., London E3 2EB; development@mocha.co.uk; www.mocha.co.uk

The Book Forager

Haren Hess's Carolina Rice Kitchen: The African Connection has been given to the Eckles Library Culinary Collection by Mary Sue Latini.

On The Reading Table

Food History News, Vol. XII, No. II.
Newsletter, The Culinary Historians of Ontario, Winter 2001, No. 27.
Meeting notice, Culinary Historians of Boston, February & March 2001.
Meeting notice, the Culinary Historians of Southern California, March 2001
Meeting notices, Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin, 9/00 - 3/01.

Food in the News

Gina Jenkins has submitted this breathtaking bit of food news:
"WASHINGTON (AP) - Plum growers have won permission from the government to start calling prunes 'dried plums,' and packages with the new name are now showing up in stores. Prune juice will still be prune juice, however. Dried fruit juice would be a contradiction in terms, the industry was told by the Food and Drug Administration. By definition, prunes are indeed dried plums, but many consumers apparently don't think of them that way. Industry research shows that women between the ages of 35 and 50 overwhelmingly preferred the term 'dried plum.' There's precedent for changing a food's name. Kiwifruit was once known as the Chinese gooseberry, and there are foods with dual names, such as the hazelnut, also known as a filbert, and chickpeas, also known as garbanzos. But to Americans, prunes have been called prunes ever since a French nurseryman introduced the "prunier," or plum, tree to California in the 1800s. The new packaging being introduced by major prune processors all feature the word 'plums' surrounded by pictures of what the purple fruit looks like before it's dried. By agreement with FDA, the term 'pitted prunes' will continue to appear on packages in small letters for the next two years. The industry admits it will take a while to improve the prune's reputation."

(Editor's note: Why does the prune's reputation need improving? Dick Tracy and Pruneface disappeared from the comics pages years ago. What's next: raisins being called dried grapes?)

The Proper Mustard is responsible for an account of what happened as a result of a December 31, 1998, Wisconsin State Journal report headlined "Ketchup misunderstanding lands man in jail." The curator of the Mustard Museum in nearby Mount Horeb responded by sending a letter to the Journal which was published on January 21, 1999:
To the editor:
The police report in the December 31 edition struck a nerve with its headline: "Ketchup misunderstanding lands man in jail." The story told of how a Michigan man caused a major commotion on State Street when he scared many people by being covered with ketchup. According to the police, he was also intoxicated at the time.

Once again we see the mischief that ketchup and the lesser condiments can cause in our society. On the other hand, mustard is rarely the cause of unrest, civil disruptions, and unseemly behavior. To the contrary, mustard usage is frequently associated with manners, decency, civility, and good breeding.

I hope that your readers learn from the tragic story of the ketchup-splattered drunkard and see that our civilization will flourish only when we make mustard an integral part of our daily lives.

Addresses for Other Culinary Historians

Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor: rksl@gateway.net; MMichael805@worldnet.att.net

Historic Foodways Group of Austin: chefs@texas.net

Culinary Historians of Boston: jeriq@rcn.com; CHoB@foodbooks.com

Culinary Historians of Chicago: bcraig@roosevelt.edu

Houston Culinary Historians: jayfrancis@aol.com; CBaird@uh.edu

Culinary Historians of New York: CulHistNY@yahoo.com

Culinary Historians of Southern California: dstrehl@lapl.org

Culinary Historians of Toronto: critsma@orc.ca

Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin: joanp@ginkgopress.com

Food History News: sandyo@mint.net

There are other groups for whom the e-mail addresses are unknown:

Culinary Historians of Hawaii

The Historic Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley