Culinary Historians
of Washington, D.C.



Calls For Papers


Coming Events






Reading List

Related Sites

To Join

Contact Us



CHoWLine - Back Issues





April 2006

Passing on Culinary Traditions

A panel of CHoW Members with Elizabeth Nosek, Vera Oye Yaa-Anna and Pat Reber, with Catherine Pressler as moderator.

Elizabeth Nosek, an Associate Curator at Winterthur. has been an historic interpreter at Old Sturbridge Village, where she participated in the dairy program and daily foodways programs. She also has worked in early 20th-century foodways programs at other historic sites.
Vera Oye Yaa-Anna is a master storyteller, cultural educator, and accomplished culinary artist. She works with children and adults, giving workshops and other programs emphasizing a hands-on apprentice style, as well as using farmers' markets as learning sites.
Pat Reber has demonstrated hearth cooking and use of a bake oven for the past 15 years in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Georgia. She also teaches hearth classes at various Maryland museums.
Catherine Pressler is a culinary educator, pastry chef, and the creator of Food Fundamentals, a program designed to enhance elementary curricula by facilitating activities in the classroom.

Future Meetings

May 7: Joan Nathan - "Innovators and Innovations in the Last Forty Years"
Also our annual meeting and election.

Report: March 12 Meeting

The proposed amendments to the CHoW By-Laws were approved unanimously. Claudia Kousoulas reported that several CHoW members have responded to the request for research help from the Wheaton Urban District which is planning to offer tours of their ethnic food markets. She is waiting for Wheaton to let her know when they are ready for help.

Two "whatzits" could not be identified: a mayonnaise maker (that resembled an object for foaming milk for lattes) brought by Laura Gilliam and a meat prong (one of a set of four), used to secure a roast on a platter while it is being carved, brought by Katherine Livingston.

Charlotte Hays gave an informal, amusing, and interesting account of how she and co-author Gayden Metcalfe came to write Being Dead Is No Excuse, how they did their research and decided what to include and omit, and we learned as much about Mississippi Delta culture as we did about the foods served at funerals there. Hays and Metcalfe now are engaged in writing a book on weddings and food.

Refreshments for the meeting included Laura Gilliam's Southern Pate; Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall's Kim Pab (Seaweed Rice); Amy Snyder's Marinated Ripe Olives; Sue Latini's Burnt Sugar Cake, Felice Caspar's Buttermilk Pound Cake with currants; Clara Raju's Pecan Tassies; Kari Barrett's Pecan Tassies; and Bettye Robertson's Velvet Cookies.

Refreshments Reminder

Please let Felice (fcaspar@bnaibrith.org) or Bryna (bryna@nmafa@si.edu) know if you are planning to bring refreshments for the April 9 meeting.

News of Our Members

Kay Shaw Nelson's cover story, "Virginia's Historic Taverns," in the March 2006 issue of Washington Woman, tells about Alexandria's Gadsby's Tavern, Charlottesville's Michie Tavern, and several others in Colonial Williamsburg: the Raleigh Tavern, Christiana Campbell's Tavern, Chowning's Tavern, Shield's Tavern, and the King's Arms Tavern.

Christine McIntyre, WW's editor, ended her introduction of Kay's article with "Food, in correct proportions, is so much more than fuel for the body. Its complexity embraces history, geography, chemistry and mathematics, in addition to sensuousness, conviviality, hospitality, satisfaction and love."

Food For Thought

Monday, April 24, 9 am - 3:30 pm; A one-day symposium at Colvin Run Mill, Fairfax County Park Authority's award-winning, restored, operational 19th century water-powered gristmill. Learn about colonial laws that regulated coopers, explore the relationship of American women and food throughout history, and watch the miller demonstrate the craft of stone dressing. Speakers will be Laura Schenone, author of A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove, winner of a 2004 James Beard Book Award; Ron Raiselis, a master cooper at Strawbery Banke Museum in New Hampshire; and Mason Maddox, miller at Colvin Run Mill. Registration fee is $45 (includes lunch) before April 19; $55 after that deadline. For information: 703-759-2771; jennifer.blackwood@fairfaxcounty.gov, Colvin Run Mill Historic Site, 10017 Colvin Run Rd, Great Falls, VA 22066.

Help Save Marcus Apicius

The following was sent to us by Andrew Smith, culinary historian and editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America:

Most culinary historians know about the cookery manuscript attributed to Marcus Apicius, the first-century Roman gourmand. Containing 500 recipes, the manuscript was assembled and hand copies in the fourth century. In the ninth century, monks at the Fulda monastery in Germany recopied the recipes in a simple manuscript adorned by red letters. The ninth-century manuscript, amazingly, has survived through twelve hundred years of wars and natural disasters and is believed to be the earliest copy of Apicius, the only recipe collection we have from the ancient Mediterranean.

During the Reformation, the manuscript was sent to the Vatican Library, which also owned another, slightly later, set of Apicius' recipes. The Vatican sold the Fulda manuscript to a private collector. The manuscript was sold at auction and eventually was given tto the New York Academy of Medicine. The 1,200-year-old manuscript is falling apart and needs to be rebound. The New York Academy of Medicine approached a professional manuscript restorer; the estimated cost of rebinding is $15,500.

The Culinary Trust of the International Association of Culinary Professionals has taken on the task of raising the necessary funds, and launching a public relations effort around the restoration and the importance of preserving our culinary heritage. All funds collected will go directly to restoration projects; all those who contribute will be invited to the restoration launch event, likely in the Fall of 2006. Please send contributions to: The Culinary Trust, 304 W. Liberty Street, Suite 201, Louisville, KY 40202. For further information: Asmith1946@aol.com.

On The Bookshelf

Culinary Cultures of Europe: Identity, Diversity and Dialogue. Darra Goldstein & Kathryn Merkel, eds. Council of Europe Publishing, 2005. 500 pp., illustrated, ISBN 92-0871-5744-8. $75.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention the Council of Europe has produced a set of essays on the culinary traditions of some 40 European countries from (alphabetically) Azerbaijan, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, Moldova, Slovenia, and others whose cuisines are relatively unknown here. Most of the chapter titles are fairly general, but fruits are the focus of the chapter on Bulgaria, the chapter on Sweden addresses bread, that on Austria relates eating to contemporary art, and the Italian contribution deals with food in the cinema. Printed in a generous two-column format, the book includes photographs, color illustrations, and some recipes. It can be ordered on line at www.book.coe/int (where a full table of contents can be found) or by mail from Palais de l'Europe, F-67075 Strasbourg Codex, France; credit cards accepted.

Help Wanted by Our Website Audience

James M. Dorsey (jmdorsey@questjournalists.com) a journalist working on an Ottoman food history is seeking anyone with knowledge of Ottoman cookery: researchers who may have focused on the subject as well as any materials and references in books, magazines, historic documents such as travelers' accounts, or diplomatic reports with references to the history, culture and kitchen of the Ottomans.

Used Book Sale

The only really big used book sale in the Washington area will be at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart (9101 Rockville Pike, Bethesda) on April 7-10. This is a great place to find food books, and every other kind, too. Hours: Friday, 8 am - 8 pm; Saturday, 9 am - 6 pm; Sunday, 12 - 6 pm; Monday, 5 - 8 pm. Information: 301-657-4322 x372.

Easter Eggs in Maryland, 1781

(From Antiques Magazine, April 1977, a reprint of Travels Through the Interior Parts of America by Lieutenant Thomas Anburey. Published in Boston & New York, 1923, vol. 2, pp. 290-291)
At Easter holidays the young people have a custom, in this province of boiling eggs in logwood, which dyes the shal crimson, and though this colour will not rub off, you may, with a pin, scratch on them any figure or device you think proper. This is practised by the young men and maidens, who present them to each other as love tokens. As these eggs are boiled a considerable time to take the dye, the shell acquies great strength, and the little children divert themselves by striking the eggs against each other, and that which breaks becomes the property of him whose egg remains whole."

Pizza and Cole Slaw?

Some months ago, Richard Tellstrom, a Swedish friend who is a food ethnologist, e-mailed me to ask of Americans usually ate coleslaw with pizza. You can guess my reply. Here is his report on what he learned.

"The question was asked on a Swedish radio programme: how on earth did the Swedes come up with serving a sweet-sour cabbage salad with pizza since nobody else in the world seems to do it? I couldn't answer that; neither could my books. So I asked members of the fantastic international food ethnologist and food history network and this is the result.

Not anyone in the food network has met cabbage salad or coleslaw with pizza except in Sweden. It seems to be very Swedish. In France you can get an ordinary tomato and lettuce salad with pizza in some restaurants. In Germany you can be served Insalata Caprese, (tomato and mozzarella salad) or an ordinary green salad or lettuce as a side dish. In Italy a salad can be served prior to the pizza but not as a side dish. One informant reports that she has heard that coleslaw is served with pizza in Canada and Poland, but this information is not confirmed. On the internet you can find that Scotland's Crieff Visitor Centre serves pizza with a sort-of cabbage salad. But mostly piza comes with no company at all.

The origin of the cabbage salad in its coleslaw form seems to be Holland in the 1600s and 1700s, known as Koolsia. It was taken with the first Pilgrims to America. A sweet-sour dressing seems to be the original type. A Swede, Peter Kalm, visited America in 1749 and wrote in his diary that he was served 'an unusual salad ... tastes better than one can imagine ... cabbage ... cut in long, thin strips dressed with oil, vineger, salt, and pepper, well mixed to evenly distribute the oil." So it wasn't known in Sweden at that time. The mayonnaise, sour cream, and onion additions seem more modern, probably late 1900s and onwards.

Today the number of coleslaw recipes, seasonings, and servings is infinate. Zillions of recipes seems to be a correct description of the coleslaw situation. A common way to prepare it is to cut the cabbage in thin slices, perhaps boil it for a short while and then add your favorite dressing. It is also known in Japan. From the U.S. came reports that coleslaw goes with steaks, barbecue, and also with larger sandwiches. In El Salvador, pupusas (a kind of thick cornmeal pancake stuffed with meat, beans, or cheese) is always served with cabbage salad. In Austria and Germany the salad is known as a side-dish to steak, cooked meat, sausages, dumplings, etc. The salad also is served in Eastern Europe. In the 1960s workers from Yugoslavia came to Germany (and Sweden) and opened fast food shops (Schaschlik-Buden) and there the meat dishes were served with a sweet-sour cabbage salad. The salad is wellknown in Croatia and was mentioned in the first cookbook published in Croatian in 1812 (a translation of a German cookbook).

There seems to be no easy answer to the question. In Sweden there has been intense vitamin propaganda since the 1930s and, after World War II, the government urged us to eat more salad, especially in its fresh forms, as cabbage salad, carrot salad, and so on. Perhaps it occurred as a government recommendation against the not-so-healthfu pizza? However, I haven't found any support for that theory. It is more likely that the large group of immigrants from Yugoslavia to Sweden in the 1960s-70s, who opened many of the pizza shops and still run them as small family enterprises, brought the salad to Sweden as a (cheap) side dish to pizza (also cheap in Sweden). The salad as a side dish probably was requested by the healthy-minded Swedes since it fit into the healthy food trends that started in the '60s-'70s. Or it could have ....."

On The Reading Table

Newsletter, Culinary Historians of Boston, VOl. XXVII, No. 1, March 2006
Food History News, FHN 67, Vol. XVII, No. 3
Culinary Chronicles, Culinary Historians of Ontario, Winter 2006, No. 47.
Meeting notice, Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin, April 2006.
Meeting notices, Chicago Foodways Roundtable, February, March 2006.
Meeting notice, Culinary Historians of Southern California, February-April 2006.
Meeting notice, Culinary Historians of Chicago, March 2006.
Meeting notice, Foodways Group of Austin, April-May 2006.