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CHoWLine - Back Issues





May 2004

Election of officers for the 2004-05 year.
Program: "Sustainable Seas" by Carole Baldwin

, a marine biologist at the National Museum of Natural History and senior author of One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish: The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook.

Important Information about Parking on Campus:

No parking is permitted in the circle in front of the Library or on the Quad. You may park in metered spaces (no charge on Sunday) in the parking lot on the right inside the W Street entrance, or in the campus metered parking garage off Whitehaven ($1.50/hour). Parking on W Street is not encouraged.

Future Meetings

May 23: Excursion to Sally and John Waltz's farm near Smithsburg, MD
The Waltz Farm is the oldest continuously-owned family farm in Washington County, dating from 1774. Sally has this message for those planning to attend: "We are looking forward to your visit to our farm and are planning to inform you about historic and modern farming practices. A tour of the gardens will give you a look at the necessity of gardens in early American life. You will see modern machinery and buildings that are vital to producing agricultural products. We will try to answer any questions you may have about agriculture of the past and present. We will be serving you a meal, some of which will be cooked at the hearth in our cooking house. We ask that you wear shoes that are appropriate for walking on a farm, and that you bring folding lawn chairs if you have any available.

If you plan to go, please let Claudia know as soon as possible. If we don't know that you're coming, the Waltzes can't include you in their plans and we won't be able to notify you about carpooling arrangements.

Report: April 4 Meeting

There were two "Whatzits": a cream extractor for home use, brought by Sally and John Waltz, that enabled people to syphon off the cream that rose to the tops of their milk bottles before that was unnecessary due to homogenization; and a device brought by Zina Pisarko for making a Brazilian delicacy called Fios de Ovos, that uses three dozen strained egg yolks cooked in a boiling sugar syrup. No one was able to even guess at what it was.

Refreshments provided by members followed a farmers' market theme: Rhubarb Custard, Sally Waltz; Chocolate Nut Cookies, Julia Abrahams; Penny Loaf Bread and Fresh Spring Vegetables (Farmer's Plate), Sophie Frederickson; Allegheny Chevre, Katherine Livingston; Strawberry Cheesecake Squares, Felice Caspar; Amish Peach Praline Pie, Bryna Freyer; Straun Bread with Chocolate Apple Butter, Kristen Donnelly; Polish Cheese-Filled Easter Bread, Zina Pisarko; and Mushroom and Green Onion Quiche, Kari Barrett.

Laura Gilliam reported that members of Les Dames d'Escoffier have been unsuccessful in finding a new home for their culinary collection that the George Washington University has requested be removed from the Eckles Library and so they have decided to sell all the books at a book sale for which there is no information yet on time and location. The CHoW Board notified Les Dames that we would be retrieving those culinary history and other books that we have contributed to the collection. Laura, with the help of Dianne King, Shirley Cherkasky, and Francine Berkowitz, completed that work on April 9-11 and the books are now boxed and temporarily stored until we can find a location where they will be cared for and made accessible to those interested in using them. We will keep you informed. Laura also reported that fewer culinary collections are now open to the public than in the past.

In response to our e-mail inquiry, Sandy Oliver of Food History News replied that although she doesn't know what a 5-pail kettle is, an answer will be forthcoming.

Ann Yonkers of FreshFarm Markets and Robin Shuster of Local Foods spoke about the farmers' markets they have established in Washington, DC, and St. Michaels, Maryland, giving an overview of the history of such markets, and a picture of what the products mean to those who produce and consume them. See the introduction from Ann's recent book, Eating Fresh, appears at the end of this issue of CHoWLine.

News from Other Organizations

April 25, 4-6 pm: "Afternoon Tea - A Royal Affair" a the Four Seasons Hotel, sponsored by the American Institute of Wine and Food, will include a talk on the history and practice of tea by Alexandra Messervy and a traditional English Afternoon Tea. Reservations required. For information: Francine Berkowitz.

May 1 & May 2, 10-3: Advanced Hearth Cooking Classes at Gunston Hall. One-day, hands-on program on complex period recipes, with discussions of the region's culinary history, seasonal uses of varioius ingredients, and popular foodway myths. Pre-registration required, $119. Call 703-550- 9220.

May 1-2 or May 8-9: Sheep and Wool Festival at the Howard County Fairgrounds. Free admission. Recommended by Sally Waltz. Check the newspaper for the correct dates and times.

May 20, 7 p.m. "Lobscouse and Spotted Dog," a lecture by Lisa Grossman Thomas, co-author of the book by the same name, is part of the 150th Anniversary Speaker Series being sponsored by the USS Constitution Museum in partnership with the Maryland Historical Society. "Thoughts of dining at sea bring forth images of formal rows of tables covered with fine linen and laden with culinary delights, but there was a time when nutrition and sustenance aboard ship came in the form of slush junk and dandyfunk." Ms. Thomas will share recipes and food preparation techniques from her book that was inspired by Patrick O'Brien's novels. At the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument Street, Baltimore. Advance Tickets: $8/members; $10/nonmembers. $12 at the door. Call 410 539-1797 x422 for information.

Historic Green Spring will have four programs during the summer on The Essence of Tea: June 13 - Green Teas; July 18 - Oolongs; August 1 - White Teas; August 8 - Black Teas; and June 27 - Tisanes and Other Cooling Beverages. All from 1-3 pm and accompanied by an English-style Tea. Reservations and a $22 prepayment required. Call 703-941-7987.

Early Alert

Sunday & Monday, October 10 & 11: Mark your calendars for the conference at the George Washington University focused on Jewish immigrants' food in America over the past 350 years. More details later.

Food in Museums

"Taking America to Lunch," an exhibition that opened on April 13 at the National Museum of American History, shows lunch boxes dating from the 1890s to the 1980s and explores the history and endurance of the American lunch box.

On The Reading Table (April Meeting)

Meeting e-notice, Culinary Enthusiasts of Wisconsin, May 2004.
Meeting e-notice, Culinary Historians of Chicago, April 2004.
Meeting e-notice, Foodways Group of Austin, April & May 2004.

Introduction to Eating Fresh by Ann Harvey Yonkers

Maryland. Virginia. West Virginia. Delaware. Pennsylvania. The region stretches from the Atlantic beaches, past the prodigious shore of the Chesapeake Bay, through the fertile and rolling piedmont to the soft rounded shoulders of the Appalachian mountains, past the blue and green beauty of the Shenandoah valley to one mountain range short of Ohio and the Mississippi River drainage. Although John Smith only saw the coastline of the Chesapeake Bay, he glimpsed the possibilities of the whole Mid-Atlantic region when he wrote, "Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man's habitation."

These lands supported permanent and thriving communities of Native Americans who fished with weirs in the rivers and bays, burned clearings in the forests where they hunted the abundant game, and planted the sustaining trinity of corn, beans, and squash. These were the beginnings of American agriculture.

The new chapter of agriculture began when the Europeans, who initially huddled in primitive settlements along the coastlines, moved out into the landscape, clearing forests with fire and axe, and plowed and planted not only to feed themselves but also to trade with the mother country, England. America's first commercial agricultural crop was tobacco, and the African slaves, imported to work the vast waterside plantations, were human hostages to that crop and way of life. Agriculture was already shaping the new America.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries when more than 90 percent of American citizens were engaged in agriculture, the patterns of settlement mapped their close relationship to - and reliance on - the land. Cities and towns were located on rivers and streams surrounded by farmland that fed and clothed the growing population. For the early settlers, living in the Mid-Atlantic meant "eating your landscape," living off and depending on the nearby landscape. Even today, when we have relentlessly cut through and paved over too many of these fertile fields and dammed too many of its rivers, the land reminds us of the seasons and provides great seasonal sustenance.

In early spring, when the chill is barely gone from the air, the athletic, iridescent shad swim upstream to spawn in quiet inland creeds and the serviceberry bush, called the shadbush by the locals, puts out white blossoms on bare branches to echo the miracle of spring from the land. The first full moon of May usually means the first big harvest of soft-shell crabs as the Atlantic blue crabs emerge from the muddy depths of Chesapeake Bay to search out eelgrass where they can shed their shells. Summer means plump ears of sweet corn boiled, buttered, and on the cob, and fat slices of the pinkish and deeply flavorful Brandywine tomato named for and prized by the citizens of the valley of the same name in Pennsylvania. Pears from the foothills of the Appalachian mountains announce fall. Most bear foreign names and pedigrees except the early-ripening Bartlett named for Yankee Enoch Bartlett who brought them from England, and the diminutive Seckel whose lovely green-to-russet-tinged skin make it picture-perfect for preserving whole. Winter means country hams, cured and smoked in the old-fashioned way over hickory or fruitwood, and a plate of sweet and milky Chesapeake Bay oysters eaten overlooking the Baltimore harbor.

Today all these vast resources are threatened, from the great "protein factory" of the Chesapeake estuary to the fertile farms and rivers of the region. The Mid-Atlantic region is the second most threatened area of farmland in the United States where, as a nation, we are losing 1.2 million acres of farmland per year. Instead of "eating our landscape," most of us now live in developments named for farms destroyed to build our houses. Instead of relying on farmers and fishermen just down the road, we rely on farmers and fishermen 1,500 to 3,000 to 9,000 miles away to provide our food.

There is another way. We do have options. As Wendell Berry said, "Eating is an agricultural act," and each time we eat, we can choose to vote with our food dollars for another way of life. We can shop at our farmers' markets, join a Community-Supported Agriculture arrangement with a local farm, purchase local produce offered by major regional grocery stores, or patronize restaurants serving local food, and when we shop or dine out and don't find these choices, we must ask for them. Remember, nothing is more persuasive than an informed and committed consumer.

As for a vision for the future, we have only to consult our past. George Washington recognized "the great advantage which nature and circumstances have placed within our reach." In plain speech, much of our success as a region derives from the rare resources we had at our disposal. It is now time to reconnect to that land. We must protect and restore those resources and recognize how interdependent we are.

Nominees for the 2004-2005 Board of Directors

President - Claudia Kousoulas is an urban planner with Montgomery County and also works as a freelance food and feature writer. Her cookbook reviews appear in Cookbook Digest and at Books-for-Cooks.com. In an average year she reviews (and cooks from) about 60 books and the reviews have led to interviews with authors and chefs as well as some spectacular meals. Her features have appeared in Washington Woman and Mothering. Claudia has been a CHoW member since 2000 and its president for the past year.

Vice President - Dianne Hennessy King, a cultural anthropologist, is a television producer, lecturer, and teacher. Recent projects have included a television program on "Domestic Violence Across Cultures," lectures on "Food Diversity and Globalization," and classes on "Cookbook Writing A-Z." Formerly editor-in-chief at Pillsbury where she edited ten cookbooks, and writer and associate editor for Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia, she served as CHoW president for two years and vice president for the past year.

Secretary - Francine Berkowitz is director of the Office of International Relations for the Smithsonian Institution. She collects cookbooks and menus and has traveled extensively and photographed food markets on five continents. She has served CHoW as treasurer, as president, as a director, and for the past year, as secretary.

Treasurer - Laura Gilliam teaches recorder and flutes, and, before retiring, was a librarian at the Library of Congress. She is an avid cookbook collector and her lifelong interest in foods has resulted in adventures such as helping to kill a rattlesnake in order to taste it [cooked], and growing corn smut to try one of Diana Kennedy's recipes. For the past year she has been CHoW treasurer, and also has devoted countless hours to organizing the Les Dames culinary collection.

Director - Kari Barrett addresses food policy issues in her work as a Senior Advisor in the Office of Legislation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Her interests include foodways (particularly Southern foodways in the Tidewater region), food history, and food writing. She has worked in a number of restaurants and currently assists at L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda. For the past year she has served as a CHoW director.

Director - Katherine Livingston was for many years the book review editor of Science magazine. 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 has been an occasional contributor to CHoWLine, served as CHoW treasurer for two years, and has been a director for the past year.

Director - Kay Shaw Nelson, a food and travel writer and author of 17 international cookbooks, is a culinary historian, columnist for The Scottish Banner, and a contributor to Washington Woman. Her articles have appeared in several national magazines and newspapers. She has been a director for the past year.