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CHoWLine - Back Issues





May 2002

May 19, 2002 Meeting

Program: "Learning to Pick Crabs: Mexican Migrant Workers in Dorchester County, Maryland"
Virginia Jenkins is a cultural historian and writer who is currently at work on a history of the seafood industry of the Chesapeake Bay.

Report: April 14 Meeting

A large group turned out for our annual cooperative dinner, this year focused on foods of the Silk Road. There was an amazing variety of foods from many countries, and members told of where they had found the recipes. Jim Wallace and Kay Shaw Nelson's guest gave accounts of their travels on the Silk Road, and the Reading Table was filled with pictures and objects for us to examine. Najmieh Batmanglij, whose book, Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Jouney, will be published in September, spoke briefly about the traditional foods and several members realized that they had used one of her previous books as a source for the dishes they brought. Najmieh has promised to come back to present a program sometime next year.

Claire Cassidy and John Rosine reported enthusiastically on "Books2Eat 2002", the 3rd International Edible Book Festival, which they attended in Takoma Park, MD, on March 31. CHoW members were alerted to this event by our e-mail network and we will hope to receive earlier notice of future such events so we can inform you.

President Dianne King requested that anyone interested in serving on the nominating committee or as a nominee for the 2002-2003 year should let her know as soon as possible.

Julia's Kitchen

Volunteers and staff have been working diligently to complete cataloging of the items in Julia's Kitchen and now it is expected that the task will be finished by the end of May, earlier than originally planned. It is hoped that Julia will be coming to the Museum of American History when the exhibition opens to the public in time for her birthday on August 18. Since CHoWLine won't appear again until late in August, watch for further information about the opening events in the newspapers.

News From Other Organizations

Repeat Announcement:

Tuesday, May 14, 12 noon: "An Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals" a talk by Barbara Haber, curator of books at the Schlesinger Library, is being offered by the Smithsonian Associates (Code: 1X1-123. Member - $11; Senior member - $10; General Admission - $14). For information: 202-357-3030.

Ms. Haber is an award-winning writer, well-known to culinary historians all over the U.S. Her book is scheduled for review by Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post during the week of May 6-10.

Green Spring Gardens, as part of their Manor House Tea Programs, is offering the following:

Sunday, June 2: "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme." The culinary, horticultural, and medicinal uses of these herbs will be discussed, as well as their history and folklore.

Sunday, July 21: "Tisanes and Other Cooling Beverages." Herbal infusions and the blending of fruits and vegetables to satisfy thirst will be demonstrated and tasting samples will be offered.

Sunday, August 4: "Keeping Cool With Ice Cream and Ices." Their histories, origins, and recipes, and tasting samples will be available.

All of the above are scheduled from 1 - 3 pm; reservations and a nonrefundable prepayment of $20 are required. Call 703 941-7987.

Geneva Collins, the moderator of a food writers' group that holds monthly potluck meetings in members' homes in the DC area, has invited anyone interested in finding out more about the group to contact her at 301 593-9797 or at genevacollins@erols.com. They started out several years ago affiliated with Washington Independent Writers and are still listed in its newsletter, although beloning to WIW is not required to attend the potlucks. Members vary in their writing experience level. Some have published in the Washington Post and elsewhere (Geneva is author of the Consumers' Checkbook Guide To Washington Restaurants); others are just getting started in freelancing. What they all have in common is an abiding passion about food. Their potlucks always have a culinary theme (past themes include Floribbean dishes, frugal food, berries, food from song titles, etc.) Their next meeting is on May 21.

Food In Museums

"The Flowering of Florence: Botanical Art for the Medici" includes many depictions of food in this exhibition of 16th to 18th-century drawings, paintings, mosaics, books and textiles at the National Gallery of Art's East Building. The show closes on May 27 so hurry in to see it.

Call for Proposals

Virginia Jenkins has forwarded this message from Dr. Anne Bower at Ohio State University: 350 to 500-word proposals are invited for essays to be published in a collection, tentatively titled "Reel Food." If your proposal is accepted, you'll be invited to submit the full essay, with approximately 4 months to complete it. Essays should explore the way that food is represented or functions in one or more films. You may focus on the connections between food and cultural traditions, history, and identity; issues of food production and preparation; issues of health and hunger; or any other topic pertaining to the cinematic representation of food and foodways. All theoretical approaches (faminism, postcolonialism, etc) are welcome; equally welcome are accessible language, wit, and culinary wisdom. Submit proposals (or send inquiries) by June 1, 2002 to Dr. Anne Bower at bower.2@osu.edu.

The Book Forager

Two more of the books on the list mailed with the March CHoWLine have been acquired for the Eckles Library: Jane Mengenhauser has contributed Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables by Elizabeth Schneider and The Virginia Housewife, vol. I (Collations, comfits and drams) by Mrs. Mary Randolph, as well as The Gold Medal Flour Cookbook, 1904 Christmas Edition (1970 facsimile). The Randolph book was compiled by Caroline Mansur for the Ann Mason Guild of Pohick Church. If you wish to suggest other books, please contact Shirley Cherkasky.


In Katherine Livingston's report of the articles in the Winter 2001-2002 issue of Color-Lines, an essential word was omitted from her summary of "The White Poison" by Shanti Rangwani. It should have read "on the deleterious effects of milk consumption on people of color."

Katherine has also provided the following report from a conference she attended:

The history of ice cream has been traced as far as an icy confection enjoyed by the Emperor Nero in 62 BC, according to the introducer of a symposium on "The Science of Ice Cream" held at the February meeting in Boston of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Skipping to more recent times, the keynote address by Anne Funderbury at the symposium focused on the history of ice cream in America. According to her the first known reference to ice cream here dates from 1744, and in this early era it was consumed only by the wealthy who were equipped to store ice. The development of the ice-harvesting industry in the 19th century changed that situation (and others related to food) somewhat, but ice cream remained "slushy and lumpy" until the invention by Nancy M. Johnson in 1843 of a hand-cranked freezer with a dasher that produced a smoother texture. Ice cream was being made commercially by the 1850s and, by the end of the century, soda fountains, ice cream parlors, and street vendors were supplying sodas, sundaes, and ice cream sandwiches to the public. Commercial manufacturers continued to use mechanized versions of the 1843 freezer until around 1900, when the circulating-brine freezer was introduced. Innovations of the 1920s included ice cream packaged for sale in individual servings: Eskimo Pies, Good Humors, Dixie Cups, and the like. After World War II, soft-serve roadside stands entered the scene. The advent of home refrigeration had made home consumption of ice cream practical, but in the post-war era price competition among retailers led to a decline in quality. Thus the stage was set for "scoop shops" and the emergence of brands such as Haagen Dazs (1960) and Ben and Jerry's (1978).

The last theme was taken up by Gus Rancatore, founder of Toscanini's Ice Cream, a group of made-on-the-premises shops in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who reported on his enterprise. Rancatore is a flavor experimentalist who makes an effort to please the palates of the foreign students in the vicinity. Saffron was popular only among South Asians and Guinness is favored largely by West Indians, but quantities of Grape Nut (initially a West Indian enthusiasm) are bought by people of all origins. Rancatore also has produced savory ice creams such as Sichuan peppercorn to abet avant-garde chefs.

Taking a broader perspective, food anthropologist Merry White considered ice cream across the world, drawing on her experiences in East Asia. She sees this internationally popular commodity as constituting its own culture, not, like hamburgers or fried chicken, owing its position to globalization or as a product of corporate homogenization. Nor are there arguments over what is the correct version, as with bagels. As to flavors, chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla "rule." Flavors found in Japanese restaurants here, such as green tea or ginger, are unknown in Japan except as exotica from the West. And ice cream has been incorporated into culturally specific traditions, such as "white days," on which Japanese office workers exchange gifts that may include (if not white undies) vanilla or white chocolate ice cream. Shaved ice (SnoCones to us) also plays an important role in this part of the world, even being used for medicinal purposes in China. White also discussed flavor preferences and how ice cream has evolved from being an elite dessert to a "child's perquisite," with (at least in the latter case) flavor preferences being an expression of individual, not cultural, identity.

Tying the symposium to its stated theme, two dairy scientists, Rob Roberts and H. Douglas Goff, outlined physical and chemical factors that must be taken into account in the large- scale production of ice cream. The first step is to produce ice cream mix, defined as "a fat emulsion, a protein suspension, and a sugar and salt solution," which then undergoes pasteurization, homogenization, and cooling before freezing while undergoing agitation. The chemical and physical properties of all thes substances and processes must be manipulated and balanced to produce a stable and palatable product, and the speakers described ongoing research into the problems encountered.

Audio cassettes of the symposium are available for $19 from AVEN, Seattle, WA (1-800-TAPE or www.aven.com. Other sources of information on ice cream history include The History of Ice Cream produced by the International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers (1978); Funderburg's Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of Ice Cream in America; Paul Dickson's The Great American Ice Cream Book; and Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir's Ices: The Definitive Guide." Under "ice cream," Amazon.com lists other sources, and a brief recap is to be found at www.foodsci.uoguelph.ca/dairyedu/ichist.html.

On The Reading Table

Meeting notice, Culinary Historians of Southern California, May 2002

Meeting notice, Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin, May 2002

Meeting notice, Culinary Historians of Boston, May 2002

Nominees for the 2002-2003 Board of Directors

President - Dianne Hennessy King, a cultural anthropologist, is a teacher, lecturer, and chair of the Fairfax Nutrition Committee. She has produced television programs for the Fairfax County school system, including "Around the World Cooking with Dianne Hennessy King," and health and multicultural education programs. Formerly editor-in-chief at Pillsbury where she edited ten cookbooks, and writer and associate editor for Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia, she served as a CHoW director for two years and then as president for the past year.

Vice President - Virginia Jenkins is a cultural historian and writer currently at work on a history of the seafood industry of the Chesapeake Bay. She has taught at Catholic University and the University of Maryland, College Park, and for 3 years was scholar in residence at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD. Her book, Bananas: An American History was published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 2000. After two terms as CHoW's treasurer, for the past year she has been vice president.

Secretary - Deborah Warner is a curator at the National Museum of American History. Her field of study is the history of science and technology, and how culinary history connects with social, cultural, economic technological and other aspects of history is of special interest to her. Assisted by her husband, Jack, she was secretary for this past year.

Treasurer - Katherine Livingston was book review editor of Science magazine for many years until her retirement. With an academic background in philosophy, she combines a longtime interest in cooking with an interest in social history and the history of science. She is being nominated for a second year as treasurer.

Director - Francine Berkowitz is director of the Office of International Relations for the Smithsonian Institution. Her interest in food has been stimulated by her extensive travels; she collects cookbooks and menus and has photographed food markets on five continents. She has served for two years as CHoW treasurer and two years as president, and is being nominated for a second year as a member of the Board of Directors.

Director - Sally Epskamp's persistent efforts, while assistant administrator at Sully Historic Site, to have a traditional English cream tea included as part of the tour experience, led to Fairfax County asking her to turn another historic property into a revenue producing, adapted-use facility. The result was the Manor House Tea Room and Art Gallery at Green Springs Garden Park, the county's first such program. Sally is being nominated for a second year as a member of the Board of Directors.

Director - Bob Magee's interest in cooking is due to his attempts to eat as well here as he did during a tour of duty as an Army Air Traffic Coordinator in Europe in 1983-87. In 1992 he took the Fairfax County open hearth cooking class and has been a volunteer at Gunston Hall since then. His primary interest is 18th-century American cooking and he has demonstrated hearth cooking at the Chilturn Open Air Museum in Childford-St. Giles (near London) and at Ardmore House (near San Francisco). He retired in 1992 and currently is a senior member of a small communications research firm. Bob has been a member of the Board of Directors for the 2001-2002 year.