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CHoWLine - Back Issues





September 2000

Program: "The History of Jewish Cooking in America"

Joan Nathan is a nationally known cookbook author and host/producer of the 26-part PBS series "Jewish Cooking in America." In 1995, her book by the same name won the Julia Child Award for Best Cookbook of the Year and the James Beard Award for Food of the Americas.

An Herban Excursion on Sept. 16

CHoW/DC has been invited to join the local chapter of Slow Food at the U.S. National Arboretum on September 16 at 10:30 am for a tour with the herbalist of the Arboretum's National Herb Garden. The Garden is sponsored by the Herb Society of America. The Arboretum is located at 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC (Tel. 202 475-4815). The grounds open at 10 am on Saturday and we will meet the herb specialist in the Herb Garden at 10:30 am. The Arboretum's Visitors' Entrance is on New York Avenue, NE. The Herb Garden is located just beyond the Administration and Information Center.

The Arboretum occupies 444 acres in the District of Columbia, Northeast. It is bounded on the west by Bladensburg Road, on the north by New York Avenue, and on the south by M Street. There is plenty of parking and facilities for picnicking. The Slow Food folks plan to bring picnic lunches, weather permitting, and CHoW members also are encouraged to do so.

Cars or Taxicabs - From Capitol Hill, take Maryland Avenue east to M St./Maryland Avenue entrance. From downtown Washington, take New York Avenue east and enter service raod after crossing Bladensburg Road.

Public Transportation - From central Washington, take Metrorail or bus no. 42 to Stadium Armory station; then change to bus B-2, B-4, or B-5 to intersection of Bladensburg Road and R Street, NE. Walk east on R Street 300 yards to the R Street gate.

Please let Shirley Cherkasky know by September 12 if you plan to participate, so that we can give the Arboretum a head count. This should be great fun as well as informative and a good opportunity to meet the Slow Food members.

Report: May 7 Meeting

CHoW officers for 2000-2001 were elected. Because there is so much news to be included in this issue, the text of Shirley Cherkasky's talk on "The Birthday Cake: Its Evolution from a Rite of the Elite to the Right of Everyone" will be included in a later issue.

CHoW Brochure Updated

Susan Riecken has updated and redesigned our brochure, and made available a new supply for us to use in informing others about our organization.

News Of Our Members

In November, 1999, CHoWLine published a request from the Learning in Retirement Institute affiliated with George Mason University for volunteers to speak on culinary history. During the spring semester, two of our members responded: Molly Schuchat talked about the history of pepper and Virginia Jenkins discussed the impact on U.S. culture of the import of bananas. Gina's book, Bananas: An American History has just been published by the Smithsonian Institution Press.

Milt Mortman, who has demonstrated the preparation of Jewish holiday foods at many of the National Museum of American History's Holiday Celebrations, spoke on Jewish cooking to the Golden Age Club at the Greenbelt Community Center on July 12.

Food from Nature: Attitudes, Strategies and Culinary Practices, (Uppsala, Sweden, June 2000, 400 pp.) includes Shirley Cherkasky's paper, "Fish in the Door Way and Cherries on the Ledges."

Sally Epskamp attended the program, "Feeding the Court of Henry VIII" at Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, PA, last June and will have information to share in a later issue of CHoWLine.

News From Other Organizations

The newly-formed Culinary Historians of Madison (Wisconsin) met in June, July, and August, and plan to continue to meet on the 4th Tuesday night of each month. Contact names are Joan Peterson (joanp@ginkopress.com); Louis Pitschmann, (lpitschmann@library.wisc.edu), and Terese Allen (tallen@pop.globaldialog.com).

September 5 - October 31: The New York Food Musuem has announced an exhibit "School Lunch and the Federal School Lunch Program" on board the Staten Island Ferry. For more information: 212 966-0191; www.nyfoodmuseum.org.

October 20-22: "Travelin' On: Southern Food En Route," a symposium that will examine what happens when Southern food culture travels north and west and across the Atlantic. Sponsored by the Southern Foodways Alliance and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS. For information: Tel: 662 915-5993; johnt@dixie-net.com.

Green Spring Gardens Park has several programs scheduled for the fall. Reservations are required and there is a fee. For information call 703 941-7987.

October 8, 1-3 pm. Kitchen technological development, from the oversized colonial fireplace to today's microwave.
October 15, 1-3 pm. "The World of Tea" by Lisa Scruggs who will share brewing secrets and conduct a tea tasting.

On The Bookshelf

Katherine Livingston has provided a list of new books on culinary history that may be of interest to you:

Michael Symons, A History of Cooks and Cooking, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 2000. 388 pp., illustrated. $30. Food Series
The author of a gastronomic history of Australia expounds on the functions and powers of cooks, ranging rather casually over a miscellany of topics, including how women cooks have been portrayed in novels, the development of the cooking fire, chefs' knives, and the significance of sauces.

Phyllis Pray Bober, Art, Culture, and Cuisine: Ancient and Medieval Gastronomy, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1999. 480 pp., illustrated. $50.
An art historian and archaeologist, described by Paul Levy in the Times Literary Supplement (June 9, 2000) as one of the trailblazers of culinary history, "on the rigorous wing" of this "new, almost academic field of study," considers the cuisines of ancient Turkey, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome and of the Middle Ages through the "Late Gothic International" era. Treating cuisine as an art in its own right, Bober draws connections with trends in music and the visual arts of the Middle Ages, attempts to dispel various culinary myths, and addresses the question of "how did it taste?" by appending recipes. A subsequent volume is to deal with Renaissance cuisine.

Geert Jan Van Gelder, Of Dishes and DIscourse: Classical Arabic Literary Representations of Food, Curzon, Richmond, UK. 178 pp. $25.
An Oxford professor of Arabic considers culinary history "merely as one of the tools for the understanding, interpretation and appreciation of literary texts." However, he does discuss medieval cookbooks and include poems that embody recipes. [Based on review in Times Literary Supplement, March 31, 2000.]

Mary Anne Caton, Fooles and Fricassees: Food in Shakespeare's England, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 2000. 128 pp., 70 illustrations. $26.95.
The catalog of a 1999 exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library, including the text of a 1610 cookbook. Pictures and text from the exhibition are also available on the Folger's web site: www.folger.edu/public/exhibit/Fooles/Fooles.html.

Rebecca L. Spang, The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 325 pp, $35. Harvard Historica Studies, 135.
An account of the rise of public eating places in France between the 1760s, when Mathurin Rose de Chantoiseau opened an establishment offering restorative bouillon, and in the 1840s, by which time the "cult of the gourmet" had developed. The author gives some attention to the food served (the "Nouvelle cuisine" of the era), but her main concern is with the social and political meanings of restaurants as representing "the intersection of public and private space."

Joseph A. Harriss, "For the Love of Mustard," Smithsonian, June 2000, pp. 102-110.
All about "the world's most heavily traded spice," from its use by the ancients to current production and processing.

Web Site: Poison Pen Press, www.poisonpenpress.com/cookery.html; on-line catalog and ordering service of a purveyor of books on topics including "medieval cookery ... and other material relating to the domestic aspects of the Middle Ages and Renaissance." Gives brief descriptions of books available and offers links to other relevant sites.

The Book Forager

On Sept. 15-17, the AAUW will hold a used book sale at the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside (1 block north of the intersection of Dolley Madison Blvd. and Old Dominion), McLean, VA. Hours: Friday - 10 am to 8 pm; Saturday - 10 am to 6 pm; Sunday - 12:30 pm to 4 pm.

A determined hunt through used book stores, used book sales, and discounted book stores during the summer has brought in a store of books for the Eckles Library Culinary Collection. Of those book titles on the wish list in the April CHoWLine, we are still looking for the following:

Jean Andrews - Peppers: The Domesticated Capsicum
Apicius - Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome
Virginia Bartlett - Pickles and Pretzels
Isabella Beeton - The Book of Household Management (any facsimile)
Louise Belden - The Festive Tradition
Evelyn Benson (ed) - Penn Family Recipes
Charles Camp - American Foodways
Lydia Child - The American Frugal Housewife
Betty Fussell - The Story of Corn
Hannah Glasse - The Art of Cookery (facsimile)
Karen Hess - any but The Taste of America
Theodore & Lin Humphrey - We Gather Together
Mark Kurlansky - Cod
Sylvia Lovegren - Fashionable Food
Sidney Mintz - Sweetness and Power

Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom
Maria Parloa - Any facsimile copy
Mary Randolph - The Virginia Housewife (facsimile)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings - Cross Creek Cookery
Elizabeth Ray (ed.) - The Best of Eliza Acton
Peter Rose - The Sensible Cook
Sarah Rutledge - The Carolina Housewife
Elizabeth Schneider - Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables
Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat - History of Food
Susan Williams - Savory SUppers and Fashionable Feasts
Larry Zuckerman - The Potato

On The Reading Table

Copy of "Of Cabbages and Kings," an article about Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, one of the founders of the Culinary Historians of Boston, Gourmet, June 2000.

Newsletter, Culinary Historians of Boston, Vol. XX, No. 6, July 2000.

Repast, newsletter of the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor, Vol. XVI, No. 2, Spring 2000, and Vol. XVI, No. 3, Summer 2000.

Food History News, Vol. XI, No. IV.

Food For Thought, newsletter of the Houston Culinary Historians, Vol. XI, No. 3, Summer 2000.

HFSDV News, newsletter of the Historic Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley, Vol. 2, Issue 2, May 2000.

The Asian Foodbookery, Vol. 5, No. 2, Spring 2000.

Meeting announcement, Culinary Historians of Southern California.

Not Your Usual Day-0ld Bakery

Angela Saunders has contributed the following article from Maine Antiques Digest, March 2000:

"According to a press release that might be called half baked, the oldest hot cross bun known to exist will be on display at the Antiques for Everyone fair at the NEC, Birmingham, England, from April 27-30.

Baked in 1828 in Stepney, London, the bun, which has survived intact well into its second century, will be exhibited with a label of authentication, providing proof of its origin, by dealers Erna Hiscock and John Shepherd. It will take more that "one a penny, two a penny" to buy the bun; it's being offered for L155 (approximately $250 in U.S. dough).

The survival of the bun owes everything to its historical associations. The hot cross bun is traditionally baked on Good Friday, when it is served to commemorate Christ's suffering on the cross. The hot cross bun, however, has acquired a number of mythical properties over the centuries, generally now long forgotten. Early literature reveals that the hot cross bun was better known as the Good Friday bun. It was referred to by Pepys in his dairies of 1664, and later in Boswell's Diary for Good Friday in 1778.

Throughout history, it is credited with a number of special virtues, among them that of ensuring friendship between two people sharing a bun. An early rhyme tells us: "Half for you and half for me, Between us two good luck shall be." Another tradition reveals that a Good Friday bun should be kept hanging from the kitchen ceiling from one year to another in order to ward off evil spirits. The Good Friday bun was also thought to have healing properties and to retain its freshness indefinitely. Gratings from a preserved bun were mixed with water to provide a cure for the common cold."