Digestible Bits and Bites #56, December 2017

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 56, December 2017
Stirring the mincemeat and making a wish! At Stir-Up Sunday and our workshop on Victorian Baking this past month, participants got to take part in this old tradition for ensuring happiness in the new year. Photo by Sarah Hood.


  1. CHC News and Upcoming Events

  2. News and Opportunities

  3. Events of Interest

  4. Upcoming Conferences

  5. Food for Thought (book reviews)

1. CHC News and Upcoming Events

Join Our Latvian Cooking Class!
On Sunday, January 28, CHC member Inese Grave-Gubins will lead "Piragi (not Pierogies): A Dumpling Workshop" at the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre (4 Credit Union Drive) in North York, Ontario. It's a hands-on workshop that will show participants how to make the delicious Latvian piragi, the baked version of the popular boiled pierogi dumplings.

Inese, who has taught traditional Latvian cooking to various groups around Ontario, will impart her tricks for using the easy and flexible “magic” dumpling dough for delicious treats such as cinnamon buns and apple tart. Admission is $55 ($45 for CHC members, students and seniors). Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Samples of Bean Cake, War Cake and Maple Leaf Gingersnaps: some of CHC's wartime treats at the Royal. Photo by Mark D'Aguilar.

CHC at the Royal
CHC had another great visit to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto on November 10 and 11. In honour of Remembrance Day, Luisa Giacometti offered a Friday presentation on WWII and Food on the Home Front. About 40 people attended Friday's early-morning session, which covered the kind of food that was prepared, the responsibility of a housewife, rationing, cookbooks and victory gardens.

She also discussed the difference between attitudes of the 1940s, when the motto was “Use It Up, Wear It out, Make It Do, or Do Without," versus today’s times, when there is abundance and yet one in eight Canadian families struggles to put food on the table. One billion pounds of food were wasted in Toronto alone last year, and in Canada, we throw out $32 billion worth of food every year. (Times are different for sure!) Radio-Canada, the French-language arm of the CBC covered the day; an article and a podcast are posted online.

Carolyn Crawford and Sherry Murphy presented on the Saturday, demonstrating Delicious Dish and Canadian War Cake, and also handing out samples of Boston Brown Bread (using Crosby Molasses).

Thanks to our volunteers Linda Boyko, Mark D'Aguilar, Felice Gorica and Jennifer Meyer! We look forward to next year’s show.

Royal Fair Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Heritage Preserving competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, sponsored by CHC. Winning jars were on display throughout the fair. Results from other categories are posted on the RAWF site

Heritage Jam Class (professional)

  1. Joanne Holt, Guelph, Ontario (Apricot Jam with Lemon Juice - Complete Cookery by Lilian Mattingly, 1946)
  2. Okhotsk Jam Club, Mombetsu-Shi, Japan (Red Currant Jelly - A Collection of Receipts in Cookery, Physyk & Surgery by Several Hands, 5th edition, 1734)
  3. Wendy Mahoney, Warkworth, Ontario (Raspberry Jam - family recipe)

Heritage Jam Class (amateur)

  1. Tom Boyd, Toronto (Carrot Marmalade - Tasty Kitchen, A Happy Recipe Community, a blog by Rachel Cleveland)
  2. Zack Wolske, Toronto (Apple Jelly from "Mrs. McDonald" - The New Galt Cookbook, 1898)
  3. Well Preserved Farm, Toronto (Gooseberry Jam, Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1946, French-language edition)

Heritage Pickle Class (professional)

  1. Joanne Holt, Guelph, Ontario (Bread & Butter Pickles - CCPF Cookbook, pre-1945)
  2. Wendy Mahoney, Warkworth, Ontario (Bread & Butter Pickles - traditional Amish recipe)

Heritage Pickle Class (amateur)

  1. Tom Boyd, Toronto (Mum's Baby Bread & Butter Pickles - Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, 1953)
  2. Cristan Farms, Oakville, Ontario (Red Pickled Beets - Women's Home Companion Cookbook, 1942, 1943)
  3. Hayley Craig-Barnes, East York, Ontario (Pickled Watermelon Rind - family recipe)

Workshop participants at Montgomery's Inn. Photo by Sarah Hood.

Baking for the Victorian Christmas Table 2017
On Saturday, November 25, 20 attendees enjoyed the sold-out second edition of Baking for the Victorian Christmas Table, held at Montgomery's Inn. CHC board member and experienced historic cook Sherry Murphy led the group through three recipes that would have been available to British and Canadian cooks in the early Victorian period: Queen Cakes from Elizabeth Raffald's 1769 The Experienced English Housekeeper; Hard Gingerbread from The Cook Not Mad of 1831, and Mincemeat Tarts (with meat) from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families of 1845.

Besides grinding beef, mincing raisins, rolling dough and peeling apples, the participants enjoyed a light lunch together, sampling several types of 19th-century sweets—including an exquisitely decorated Twelfth Cake baked by Monika Paradi—and took a tour of the historic inn.

Thanks to our hardworking volunteers (Carolyn Crawford, Pat Currie, Sarah Hood, Sharon Majik and Monika Paradi) and especially to our two youth volunteers, Min Seo and Tara Helmer, who showed off considerable culinary skills and lots of patience. (All were appropriately clad in early Victorian outfits.)

We're also extremely grateful to the staff at Montgomery's Inn, including Sue Pye, Kate Hill, Lauren McCallum, Iona MacKay, Dienye Waboso, Leena Kilback and Alexandra Kim.

Pastry cutouts ready for mincemeat filling. Photo by Sarah Hood.
Upcoming CHC Events
  • Saturday, December 9: Frost Fair, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fort York National Historic Site, Toronto: Fort York celebrates the legacy of the early-19th-century English Frost Fair with a market, music and food amid Canada's largest collection of original War of 1812-era buildings. CHC participates with cookbooks and historic baking for sale. Admission: Free (in honour of Canada 150).
  • Sunday, January 28: Piragi not Pierogies, A Dumpling Workshop: A hands-on workshop led by CHC member Inese Grave-Gubins at the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto, in which we will learn to make the delicious Latvian baked version of the popular boiled dumplings, as well as tricks for using the easy and flexible “magic” dumpling dough for delicious treats such as cinnamon buns and apple tarts.Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
  • Saturday, February 24: Hungry for Comfort: Surviving a Canadian Winter (replacing Mad for Marmalade), 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Come together with other food enthusiasts at Fort York in Toronto to explore how different cultures historically survived the winter. This year, we will examine the culinary story of the Indigenous, French, Métis and English through talks, tastings and demonstrations. We will also be hosting a baking and preserving competition, which includes our annual marmalade competition! Admission: $65 + HST until February 9; $75 + HST afterwards, including refreshments and lunch. Pre-registration is required. Tickets will soon be available online.
  • Saturday, April 21: Tea with John A. and Lady Agnes Macdonald: In honour of the 150th anniversary of Confederation (but postponed from 2017), CHC presents tea with John A. and Lady Agnes Macdonald at Campbell House Museum in Toronto. Historical interpreter and retired history teacher Brian Porter will discuss the background of this notorious Canadian figure; his wife Renee Porter will portray Lady Agnes. The presentation will be followed by a delicious, historically appropriate tea. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
  • Saturday, July 28: Adelaide Hoodless and Friends. A day trip from Toronto to explore the roots of the Women’s Institute and the E.D. Smith jam company in the Stoney Creek area (near Hamilton, Ontario), with visits to the Erland Lee Museum (birthplace of the Women’s Institute) and Battlefield House Museum and Park (site of the Georgian-era home of the Gage family). Admission: $85-$95, including tours, lunch, historic food tastings and a chance to shop at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market, founded in 1837.
  • Saturday, October 13: Canada’s Table: Our Celebration of Cookbooks. A festival of Canadian food writing. Fort York National Historic Site (250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto).
  • Saturday, October 20: Annual General Meeting.
  • November: Taste Canada Awards Gala.
  • November: Remembrance Day at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
  • November: Baking for the Victorian Christmas Table.
  • December: Frost Fair.

Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge: December 2017
For December, we're challenging bloggers to bring their best holiday game, with the most festive and delightful food tales about winter holidays past. We’re looking for blog posts of any length, in either French or English.

To enter, simply publish your entry within the month of December and post it on the CHC Facebook page before midnight on Sunday, December 31. (To guarantee being included in the January newsletter roundup, it would be best to post a few days before the deadline.)

In November, we invited food bloggers to share an entry related to remembrance, military or otherwise. Here are the pieces posted in response:
Join the Culinary Historians of Canada!

The membership year runs from one annual general meeting (usually in October) to the next. Download a membership form here and join us today! 

2. News and Opportunities

What's Cooking? Member News Roundup

CHC loves to promote its members through Digestible Bits & Bites. Whether you are writing, teaching, researching, touring, travelling, cooking, tasting or celebrating a personal milestone, your CHC friends want to know! Items received in the editor’s inbox at by the 25th of a given month will be published on the first day of the succeeding month. Please write your announcement in paragraph form directly into your email window, with no attachments unless you include a photo. Be sure to include a web link for further information.

A WWI luncheon. Photo by Mark D'Aguilar.
Mark D'Aguilar reports that "for the past while I have been exploring what Torontonians were eating during the Great War. This past Tuesday I decided to cook and eat from a War Menu published on 1 October 1917 in the Toronto Daily Star—one of several War Menus published in newspapers across Canada from September 1917 to February 1918." His day included a breakfast of Rolled Oats, Sugar, Milk, Stewed Prunes, Toast, Butter and Tea or Coffee, a luncheon (pictured) of Scalloped Tomatoes, Baked Potatoes, Brown Bread, Butter, Preserved Plums, Tea, Sugar, Milk, and a dinner of Meat Pie, Baked Squash, Mashed Potatoes, Baked Rice with Raisins, Milk and Sugar.

This is what you see on the screen in front of you at a transcribathon! Photo by Julia Armstrong.

On November 7, Julia Armstrong spent a day helping to digitize handwritten historic recipes in Guelph, Ontario. She writes that "Kathryn Harvey, Head of Archives & Special Collections at the University of Guelph, led a recipe transcribathon in conjunction with the Digital Humanities Centre, whose THINC Lab is housed in the recently renovated McLaughlin Library. Kathryn introduced our small group of enthusiasts (including three CHC members) to the Early Modern Recipes Online Collective (EMROC), and taught us how to use the online tool Dromio to transcribe, tag and vet a document. Our project: to transcribe pages from a scanned copy of an 18th-century British manuscript cookbook, which Kathryn had selected from the Archival & Special Collections' Culinary Arts Collection.

"Founded in 2012, EMROC is 'an international group of scholars and enthusiasts who are committed to improving free online access to historical archives.' Participants in this third annual transcribathon included the University of Essex, the Folger Institute, nine American universities, and the University of Guelph. Having signed in to the Folger's transcription interface, each of us in the Guelph group chose a few manuscript pages to tackle. Deciphering 18th-century handwriting can be a challenge; for example, the long "S" looks more like a lower-case "f" to contemporary eyes, and one needs to be familiar with abbreviations that were commonly used. Encoding is just as important as keying; thankfully, that is straightforward in Dromio, resulting in machine-readable and keyword-searchable text for researchers of the future. After each page has been transcribed three or four times, a volunteer 'vets' it by having the platform compare all keyed versions and flag any differences that need to be resolved or corrected.

"After the workshop, Special Collections Librarian Melissa McAfee led a short tour of the library's exhibition Tried, Tested, and True: A Retrospective on Canadian Cookery, 1867–1917Curated by food-history students as an experiential learning project, the exhibition (which concludes this month) focuses on eight themes—from community cookbooks to wartime cookery. Each group prepared a small exhibit, showcasing more than two dozen books from the Culinary Arts Collection."

Karen Millyard is presenting A Jane Austen Christmas Twelfth Night with food, carols, Twelfth Cake, wassail, games and dancing by the fire at Montgomery’s Inn. Guests will step into the atmosphere of times gone by to partake of the yuletide customs of Old England: dancing by the fire to live music, eating a historical supper by candlelight, enjoying wassail and other seasonal treats, playing traditional games and enjoying the historic inn, decked out in all its festive finery. On Friday, January 5, the soiree will be for advanced English country dancers and Scottish country dancers. On Saturday, January 6, the dancing is "beginner-friendly" and no is partner required. Historical clothing is encouraged, but optional. See the event listing below for further information.

Besides participating in CHC events, member and pastry chef Monika Paradi is also a regular volunteer at Montgomery's Inn in Etobicoke, Ontario, where she has been offering classes for several years. On Saturday, December 9, she's offering Gingerbread House Workshops for families at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The admission price is $30 plus tax per house, and pre-registration is required at 416-394-8113.

Boarding-house fare of 1917. Photo by Stephanie Thomas.

On November 9, Stephanie Thomas attended a Boarding House Supper at the Victorian-era Mackenzie House in Toronto. She reports that "I was transported back to 1917 when I attended dinner at Mr. McCarthy's boarding house at 82 Bond St. The property was the final home of Toronto's first Mayor William Lyon Mackenzie. Despite the rationing, Mr. McCarthy served a delicious dinner of wheatless breads (one made from corn and barley, the other rye and barley flour) with margarine and onion savoury spread (lentils, onions, cheddar cheese), tomato and rice soup, savoury meat loaf, savoury vegetable loaf, mushroom sauce, sweet potato croquettes, egg and beet salad, and jam squares and lemon snow for dessert. I did not think to ask Mr. McCarthy why his servers were dressed in 1850s attire." (Stephanie is also pursuing her Canada 150 project of cooking one recipe per month from 1967's the Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book. This month, she baked bannock.)

Sherry Murphy and Col. Remy-Bear at SickKids in Toronto.

CHC board member Sherry Murphy is a regular volunteer with Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). In November, she offered a presentation on WWI cooking, and asked the kids to help name her Great War soldier teddy bear. They decided he should be a doctor in the army, and his name would be Colonel Benjamin Remy-Bear, to match the rank of Colonel John McCrae, who wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields."

On November 4 and 5, six Toronto museums presented a day of historic cooking and food tasting as part of the Canada 150 project Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats. CHC members participated at several of the venues (see photo, below).

From left: Sherry Murphy, Carolyn Crawford, Sharon Majik and Sarah Hood, ready to bake in the historic kitchen at Montgomery's Inn for Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats.

3. Events of Interest

Compiled by Sarah Hood & Sher Hackwell

THIS MONTH (December 2017)

  • Saturday, December 2: Hearth Cooking Workshop: Sweet Tooth, 10 a.m. to noon. Gibson House Museum welcomes the festive season with a trio of 19th-century treats made by participants in the historic kitchen. This hands-on workshop is led by an experienced historic cook. Admission: $25. Pre-registration is required at 416-395-7432.
  • Saturday, December 2: The Cook's Apprentice, 1 to 3 p.m. Fort York presents a historical cooking class for kids age 8 to 12, during which they will learn to bake traditional cakes, biscuits and confections in the officers' historic kitchen. Recipes include iced Queen Cakes, Gingerbread, Peppermint Drops and a delicious breakfast griddle cake for the holidays. Recipe package and tastes to take home. Admission: $30 + HST. Pre-registration and payment are required at 416-392-7484.
  • Saturday, December 9: Frost Fair, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fort York National Historic Site celebrates the legacy of the early-19th-century English Frost Fair with a market, music and food amid Canada's largest collection of original War of 1812-era buildings. CHC participates with cookbooks and historic baking for sale. Admission: Free (in honour of Canada 150).
  • Saturday, December 9: Christmas by Lamplight, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Two dinner seatings: 5:30 & 8:30 p.m. Black Creek Pioneer Village presents a magical night of traditional folk music, Christmas carolling, crafts to take home and a sampling of festive foods, along with a shop featuring one-of-a-kind gifts handmade in the village. An optional Christmas dinner menu includes soup or salad, Traditional Roasted Turkey or Fall Vegetable Cassoulet and a dessert of Warm Apple Blossom or Pumpkin Pie. Admission: $22.45-$29.95 + HST (without dinner); $52.75-$81.95 + HST (with dinner). Reservations are required at or 416-736-1733 (members only, 416-667-6295, ext. 2).
  • Saturday, December 9: Christmas Baking Workshop, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mackenzie House invites visitors to try Victorian Christmas baking in the historic kitchen range and learn about the tastes and culinary technology of the 1850s. Admission: $30. Pre-registration is required at 416-392-6915.
  • Saturday, December 9: Desserts By Lamplight, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Scarborough Museum presents a magical evening in lamp-lit rooms, where you will enjoy decadent desserts while listening to carollers. Admission: $25. Pre-registration is required at 416-338-8807.
  • Saturday, December 16: Christmas by Lamplight, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Two dinner seatings: 5:30 & 8:30 p.m. Black Creek Pioneer Village presents a magical night of traditional folk music, Christmas carolling, crafts to take home and a sampling of festive foods, along with a shop featuring one-of-a-kind gifts handmade in the village. An optional Christmas dinner menu includes soup or salad, Traditional Roasted Turkey or Fall Vegetable Cassoulet and a dessert of Warm Apple Blossom or Pumpkin Pie. Admission: $22.45-$29.95 + HST (without dinner); $52.75-$81.95 + HST (with dinner). Reservations are required at or 416-736-1733 (members only: 416-667-6295, ext. 2).
  • Saturday, December 23: Christmas by Lamplight, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Two dinner seatings: 5:30 & 8:30 p.m. Black Creek Pioneer Village presents a magical night of traditional folk music, Christmas carolling, crafts to take home and a sampling of festive foods, along with a shop featuring one-of-a-kind gifts handmade in the village. An optional Christmas dinner menu includes soup or salad, Traditional Roasted Turkey or Fall Vegetable Cassoulet and a dessert of Warm Apple Blossom or Pumpkin Pie. Admission: $26.95-$34.95 + HST (without dinner); $57.75-$86.95 + HST (with dinner). Reservations are required at or 416-736-1733 (members only: 416-667-6295, ext. 2).
  • Thursday & Friday, December 28 & 29: Hogmanay at Gibson House Museum, 6 p.m. Gibson House hosts a special evening inspired by the Scottish traditions of Hogmanay, during which visitors will share dinner and welcome the First Footer to bring luck and best wishes to Gibson House Museum for 2018. Pre-registration and payment are required at or 416-395-7432. Must be 12 years or older. Admission: $65.
Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area (GTHA)
  • Friday, December 1: A Night at Ireland House, 6 to 9 p.m. (Burlington, Ontario). Ireland House invites visitors to sample seasonal foods prepared on the historic hearth and woodstove, such as turkey, maple-glazed ham, soup and desserts, along with tastings of local Niagara wines from Legends Estate Winery, Highlander Brew Co. craft beers and specialty coffees from Tribeca Coffee Co. The High Five quartet will sing Christmas songs. Participants must be 19 or older. Admission: $40. Pre-registration and payment are required.
  • Saturday, December 2: Victorian Christmas Delights: Historic Cooking Workshop, 9 a.m. to noon (Hamilton, Ontario). Dundurn National Historic Site presents a hands-on cooking class led by costumed cooks below stairs in Dundurn's 19th-century kitchen. A tour of Dundurn decked out for the season is also included. Suitable for ages 14 and older. Admission: $55 for one adult and one child; $25 for each additional child. Pre-registration is required at 905-546-2872.
  • Saturday & Sunday, December 2 & 3: Victorian Christmas Open House & Gift Sale, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Brampton, Ontario). Bovaird House welcomes visitors to browse the Carriage House Gift Shop and rooms throughout the house plus the Pendergast log house for handmade gifts by local artisans. Afterwards, they can relax and enjoy seasonal treats with a selection of holiday gourmet teas or mugs of steaming mulled cider, all served in front of the blazing yuletide fire in Mossie’s Tea Room. Admission: Free.
  • Sunday, December 3: Christmas in the Village, Winter in the Woods, noon to 3:30 p.m. (Pickering, Ontario). Pickering Village Museum presents a visit with the inhabitants of the pioneer village as they share their holiday customs. Enjoy Scottish Hogmanay, Welsh traditions, Victorian English Christmas celebrations, Squire Jonathan’s Christmas Ball, and a walk in the woods to see how Pickering’s first settlers struggled in the wilderness.
  • Saturday, December 9: Kensington Festive Food Roots Tour & Tastings, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Toronto). Join food historian Shirley Lum in peeling back the delicious layers of festive immigrant food roots, beginning with the founding Denison family, while celebrating the diverse Festivals of Lights—Diwali, Winter Solstice, Channukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa—in multicultural Kensington Market. Admission: $50 (general); $45 (students & seniors 65+); $35 (3-12), including pre-ordered food. Pre-registration and payment are required at and 416-923-6813.
  • Saturday, December 9: Georgian Christmas Supper. Two seatings: 5 & 8 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). JaneAustenDancing presents a Georgian meal at historic Montgomery's Inn. Admission: $60. 416-578-1031.
  • Sunday, December 10: Artemis, A Greek Supper Club with Game Meat, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Peter Minaki of Kalofagas presents a banquet of game meat at St. Lawrence Market Kitchen. He writes: "Canada's wilderness and the bounty that comes with it are a natural fit for Greek cuisine. Game birds, wild hare, deer and boar are just some of animals Greeks have been hunting and cooking for millennia. Artemis was the goddess of hunting, the wilderness and wild animals, and this Greek Supper Club is dedicated to her. The menu includes Wild Boar Keftedes; Prassopita (Leek Pie) with Homemade Phyllo; Duck Gyro; Raw Artichoke Salad; Rabbit Stifado; and Braised Venison; with a dessert of Peanut Butter & Chocolate Parfait with Baklava Crumble. Admission: $85-$99.
Other Regions
  • Saturday, December 2: Wassail through the Centuries!, 1 to 5 p.m. (Picton, Ontario). Christmas at Macaulay Heritage Park includes "time travel" to the 1780s, 1850s, 1940s and 1970s for a bake sale (including traditional plum puddings), music, heritage recipes in the "Christmas Cafe," unique stocking stuffers, period toys and games and costumed characters from bygone days. Admission: Free. 613-476-2148, ext. 2521.
  • Sunday to Thursday, December 3 to 7: Christmas at the King’s Head Inn Restaurant, 7 p.m. (Prince William, New Brunswick). King's Landing historic site presents Christmas dinner by candlelight in a 19th-century inn decked out for the holidays. Christmas music, firelight and complimentary port, walnut toffee and gingerbread men accompany a menu of turkey soup, a choice of prime rib, turkey or roast goose, and an assortment of 19th-century desserts. Admission: $41.99 (adult); $26.99 (12 & under). Reservations are required at or 506-363-4968.
  • Tuesday, December 5: Épices crépitantes et histoires sacrées / Sizzling Spices, Sacred Stories, 6 to 8 p.m. (Montreal). Centre Soha hosts a colourful, multi-sensory evening featuring Indian cuisine, fact and legend, spice inhalations and food tasting, music, photographs and ritual. Admission: $25.
  • Monday to Thursday, December 11 to 14: Christmas at the King’s Head Inn Restaurant, 7 p.m. See Sunday to Thursday, December 3 to 7.
  • Monday to Wednesday, December 18 to 20: Christmas at the King’s Head Inn Restaurant, 7 p.m. See Sunday to Thursday, December 3 to 7.
LOOKING AHEAD (January 2017)

  • Saturday, January 13: Haggis Cooking Class, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Toronto). Mackenzie House offers a unique opportunity to make a rustic Scottish meal, including the infamous haggis. Participants will work in the historic kitchen and explore the lives of 19th-century Scottish settlers. Admission: $30+HST. Pre-registration is required. 416-392-6915.
  • Sunday, January 28: Piragi not Pierogies, A Dumpling Workshop (Toronto). CHC presents a hands-on workshop led by member Inese Grave-Gubins at the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto, focusing on the delicious Latvian baked version of the popular boiled dumplings, as well as tricks for using the easy and flexible “magic” dumpling dough for delicious treats such as cinnamon buns and apple tarts. Admission: $55 (general); $45 (CHC members, students & seniors 65+). Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area (GTHA)
  • Friday & Saturday, January 5 & 6: Jane Austen Twelfth Night Supper and Dance (Etobicoke, Ontario). See “What’s Cooking,” above, for further details.
  • Thursday, January 25: Thirsty Thursday, 7 to 10 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery’s Inn presents Thirsty Thursday tavern night with beer, wine or a Thomas Montgomery specialty in the restored 1847 barroom, along with Irish stew, fresh-baked bread and live traditional music. Admission: Free. Cash bar; $5 for a bowl of stew, while supplies last. 416-394-8113.
  • Saturday, January 6: Twelfth Night: An Ancient Midwinter Celebration, 7:30 p.m. (Cambridge, Ontario). The Mill Race Folk Society celebrates this unique and ancient holiday at the British Club (35 International Village Drive) with a festive buffet, live music, dancing, carols and a traditional Mummers’ Play. Costumes encouraged. Admission: $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Cash bar.
  • Friday, January 19: Iordan - Feast of Jordan, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Edmonton). Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village celebrates one of the most important holy days of the Ukrainian church calendar, Iordan, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany. The Friends of the Ukrainian Village Society will be offering food services featuring kutia (boiled wheat sweetened with honey and poppy seed), borshch (beet soup), pyrhoy (perogies) with roast fish, and pampushky (doughnuts).
  • Wednesday to Sunday, November 15 to December 31: Scottish Holiday Traditions, 1 to 5 p.m.; to 8 p.m. on Thursdays (Toronto). Gibson House Museum invites visitors to enjoy the simple and elegant traditions of the Scottish holiday season, learn how the Gibson family celebrated the season in the 19th century and sample some treats by the open hearth. Admission: $3.76-$7.08 + HST. 416-395-7432 or
  • To December: Tried, Tested, and True: A Retrospective on Canadian Cookery, 1867–1917 (Guelph, Ontario). The McLaughlin Library at the University of Guelph presents a Canada 150 cookbook exhibit curated by University of Guelph students. Admission: Free.
  • To March 30: From Latkes to Laffas (Toronto). Beth Tzedec Congregation’s Reuben & Helene Dennis Museum presents an exhibit on the history of Jewish Toronto’s favourite restaurants, going as far back as 1900. Open Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Admission: Free. 416-781-3511.
  • Daily: Historic Afternoon Tea & Tour at Fort Langley National Historic Site, tea 1 to 2:45 p.m., tour 3 to 4:30 p.m. (Fort Langley, British Columbia). An elegant afternoon tea at the Little White House (LWH) Salon Café in the coach house of the historic Marr House. Fort Langley, a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, was first established in 1827. On the tour, visitors will hear stories about local historical characters and explore the homes and workshops of the people of the trade. Admission: $15.68 per person (plus admission fee for groups of 15–30), including tea, tour and HST. 604-513-4799 or
  • Daily: Fishing the West Coast and the Canning Line, 10 a.m. to  5 p.m. (Steveston, British Columbia). The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site offers exhibits on the development of fishing on Canada’s West Coast and modern fishing practices, too. Admission: Free in 2017 for Canada 150.
  • Sundays: Gibson House Tea & Tour, 1 to 4:30 p.m. (Toronto). Every Sunday, there’s tea, cookies and a seat for you at the harvest table in the 1850s historic kitchen. Free with regular admission.
  • Indefinite run: Food Will Win the War (Ottawa). The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum presents an exhibition on the story of food on the Canadian home front during the Second World War. Focusing on shopping, eating, conserving and volunteering, the exhibit shows how Canadians fought a “war for food” to support Canada’s overseas war efforts. Admission: Free with entrance to the museum. 613-991-3044 or 1-866-442-4416.

4. Upcoming Conferences

Compiled by Julia Armstrong


March 26 to 28 (Greensboro, North Carolina)
As the organizers write, "Food is never just food, and its representation in the arts and humanities is replete with meaning—whether realistic, narrative, or figurative." 

March 29 to 31 (Lubbock, Texas)
With the explosion of food studies, the Humanities Centre at Texas Tech University is making food the focus of its first humanities conference, and deliberately chose to make the theme broad with a title ending in an ellipsis: what follows "food and" could fall under several broad thematic categories, such as culture, literature, politics, environment, technology, health. Watch this site for registration info in early January.

May 29 to 30 (Dublin, Ireland)
"Food and Power" is the theme and can be interpreted literally (e.g., superfoods) or metaphorically (e.g., as a symbol of status). Questions to be examined range from "Who has the power to decide what a nation eats?" to "Did chefs lose power when their recipes and techniques began to be published?" 

October 25 to 26 (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Proposals are welcome. See the call for papers.
The three themes of the conference are food production and sustainability; food, nutrition and health; food politics, policies and cultures. Submit proposals and register here.

November 15 to 16 (Tours, France)
Deadline for proposals: December 15, 2017
Organized by the European Institute for the History and Culture of Food (IEHCA), the objective of the conference is to advocate a multidisciplinary approach to food heritage and to examine, from a European and international standpoint, countries that have successfully added food elements to UNESCO's list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

5. Food for Thought

Co-ordinated by Fiona Lucas

Have you missed a book review? You can read reviews from all our past issues online.


The Book of Chocolate: The Amazing Story of the World’s Favorite Candy by HP Newquist (Viking Books / Penguin Random House, 2017). Reviewed by Elka Weinstein (pictured above)

The Book of Chocolate is eclectic. Although it is ostensibly about the “Amazing Story of the World’s Favorite Candy,” it actually examines how an exotic commodity from South and Central America became first a European luxury and later an American staple. Where chocolate comes from, how it was made palatable to Europeans and how it eventually made its way into soldiers’ rations are all discussed in the book.  

Whether you call it cocoa or cacao, chocolate has earned its place in the canon of amazingly delicious foods. And as “one of the most complex chemical combinations known to man,” with more than 600 known chemical compounds in raw chocolate, it is also clearly a miracle food. 

A subject that is not discussed by the author is the recent DNA sequencing and the release of information about the genome of cacao by scientists from Mars and Hershey, in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture. The ultimate goal of the sequencing is to freely allow anyone studying the genome to improve current chocolate varieties for a higher resistance to disease, more robust growth and better taste.

The book does discuss the not-so-sweet side of chocolate, in that, on some African plantations, where most of the world’s cacao is produced, children may work for little or no pay. This information has been the subject of a number of news reports, creating pressure on some chocolate companies to examine the work practices of their producers. Fair Trade chocolate claims to source the cacao from plantations that pay their workers a fair price for their labour.   

HP Newquist has written over 20 books on a great variety of scientific subjects and is clearly a good researcher. His writing is clear and concise, and aimed at a general lay audience rather than children, although his books are obviously meant to appeal to school librarians. For this book he spent time at a cocoa plantation, learned how to make chocolate and sampled chocolate all over the world.

I would recommend this book as light reading, or as an introductory source for a school project.   


The National Trust Book of Scones: 50 Delicious Recipes and Some Curious Crumbs of History by Sarah Clelland (National Trust Books, 2017). Reviewed by Sarah Hood (pictured above)

At this festive season of the year, even those of us with little direct connection to the UK (my last ancestors to cross the pond cast off 182 years ago) are once more reminded of the charm of an English Christmas, with holly and ivy and carols—and especially traditional baking. Well, you can't get more British than a book of 50 scone recipes from historic houses!

This book arose from a personal quest that author Sarah Clelland set herself: to visit every one of the 500 National Trust sites, which include venerable family estates, as well as cottages, castles, post offices, foundries and lighthouses. Part of her goal was to collect a bit of lore and eat a scone in every single one; along the way was born her National Trust Scone blog, in which she charted her journey.

You might think that every scone is alike, but you'd be wrong. There are sweet ones and savoury ones: the simple, the fancy, the fruity and the festive. There's a whole chapter devoted to chocolate scones. Of course, there are some typically British oddities, like the Wet Nelly Scones from Liverpool's Speke Hall. These are made with crumbled, day-old Wet Nellies, which Clelland describes as "a moist version of a fruit cake known as Nelson cake. It was originally made from broken biscuits and pastry remnants; dried fruit was added and the mixture was soaked in syrup."

From the Surrey estate Polesden Lacey (seen in numerous television productions like Agatha Christie's Marple and Midsomer Murders) come Earl Grey Scones, made with tea-infused milk. Bodiam Castle in East Sussex—a setting for the Doctor Who series and the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail—contributes scrummy-sounding Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones. Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, which stood in for rooms in Mr. Darcy's Pemberley estate in the classic 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, is the home of Stilton and Cranberry Scones.

This is a pretty book, with a clear layout, page borders that resemble antique wallpapers in pastel shades, and charming watercolour scone portraits by Amy Holliday. As a scone aficionado myself, I'm looking forward to some holiday baking time, when I can dig into this scone compendium at my leisure.

Review Contributors
  • Julia Armstrong (Toronto)
  • Sher Hackwell (Vancouver)
  • Sarah Hood (Toronto)
  • Shirley Lum (Toronto)
  • Dana Moran (Ottawa)
  • Susan Peters (Morrisburg, Ontario)
  • Elka Weinstein (Toronto)
If you are a CHC member who would also like to contribute, please contact Publications Chair Sarah Hood at
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