Digestible Bits and Bites #46, February 2017

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 46, February 2017

It’s marmalade season! Photo by Sarah Hood

CHC News and Upcoming Events

Mad for Marmalade
Don’t be left out! Tickets are going fast for the 10th and final edition of Mad for Marmalade, Crazy for Citrus!, the sensationally popular marmalade event we co-host with (and at) Fort York National Historic Site. Toronto’s most orange-tastic gathering of the year takes place on Saturday, February 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It includes marmalade-related talks, demonstrations and workshops, a preserving and baking competition, a marketplace and (of course!) a citrus-themed lunch.

Admission: Early-bird tickets ($65 plus tax) are available until February 6. $75 plus tax afterwards. Pre-registration is required at 416-392-7484.


  • Joel MacCharles, author of Batch
  • Camilla Wynne, founder of Preservation Society and author of Preservation  Society Home Preserves: 100 Modern Recipes
  1. Pudding… Pond… Sussex: A session on Sussex Pond Pudding with historic cook Rosemary Kovac.
  2. Orange Biscuits: Mya Sangster, a CHC Lifetime Honorary Member, explores two different receipts for Orange Biscuits, one from The Whole Duty of a Woman (1740) and the second from Robert Abbot’s The Housekeeper’s Valuable Present (1790).
  3. Orange Marmalade Mazurki: Elizabeth Baird (also a CHC Lifetime Honorary Member) leads a workshop on this fruit- and nut-stuffed flat cake, which is made traditionally for Easter in Poland.
  4. Yesterday’s Candied Peel for the Modern Cook: Jan Main shows how this old-fashioned ingredient fits into the contemporary kitchen.
  5. Delicious Uses for Marmalade That Will Never Win a Prize: This workshop by historic cook and CHC member Brenda Dalglish demonstrates how to turn failed batches into delicious dishes and highlights a historic Marmalade Pudding.
  6. Marmalade Goes Savoury: Author Jennifer MacKenzie prepares jewel-coloured Red Onion & Lemon Marmalade—a sweet, tangy and savoury condiment.
  7. Brevas en Almibar: Food and travel journalist Mary Luz Mejia explores the culinary history and process of making Latin American figs in syrup.
2017 Redpath Marmalade Competition

  1. Pure Seville Orange Marmalade: Marmalade made exclusively of Seville oranges, or marmalade that includes lemons at a ratio of no more than one lemon per four Seville oranges. Bitter oranges other than Seville do not belong in this category. No other ingredients or flavourings, apart from sugar, may be used.
  2. Citrus Marmalade: Marmalade made exclusively from citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, citron (including Buddha’s hand), grapefruit, limes, mandarins, tangerines, clementines, pomelo, oroblanco, individually or combined. Flavouring agents such as herbs, spices, liquor, chocolate or vanilla may be used, but not non-citrus fruits or vegetables.
  3. Preserves with Citrus: Any spreadable preserve (conserve, chutney, relish, jam, curd, jelly, marmalade), made with any vegetable or fruit, as long as at least one citrus fruit is a key component.
  4. Baking with Marmalade: Home-baked goods with marmalade as an important ingredient.
Competition Rules
  • Individuals may submit only one entry in two separate categories, a total of two entries per person
  • All entries must be accompanied by a $5 registration fee, paid in cash, and a Competition Entry Form. (Download the form M4M Competition form 2017.)
Each entry in the Preserves categories (numbers 1, 2 and 3) must also:
  • Have been made within the last 12 months.
  • Be in standard clear glass jars of 250 mL or 500 mL sold for the purpose of home preserving; that is, preserving jars with new lids and intact bands.
  • Be properly sealed. Unsealed jars, products showing signs of spoilage and products sealed with paper or wax will not be judged.
  • Have no labels or other identifying marks.
  • Be accompanied by a copy of the recipe used to produce the jar contents as submitted, giving credit to the recipe source or inspiration (i.e. recipe from a family member, commercial company, cookbook, magazine, newspaper or website) and noting any variations from that source. Recipes must not identify the competitor.
Each entry in the Baking with Marmalade category (number 4) must also:
  • Have no labels or other identifying marks.
  • Be accompanied by a copy of the recipe used to produce the entry as submitted, giving credit to the recipe source or inspiration (i.e. recipe from a family member, commercial company, cookbook, magazine, newspaper or website) and noting any variations from that source.
Entries must be delivered with registration form and $5 entry fee to Fort York National Historic Site, 250 Fort York Boulevard (Attention: Melanie Garrison, 416-392-7503, before 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, February 18, 2017. (Competitors do not have to attend the event; they may deliver entries in advance of the date.)

For more information, contact Competition Coordinator Daphna Rabinovitch, 416-525-3752 or

Would You Like to Lead a Culinary Workshop?
The CHC board is already looking ahead to programming for 2018, and we’re open to adding a few extra sessions in 2017, particularly cooking classes. Do you have expertise or skills that would lend themselves to being presented at a CHC event in Toronto or elsewhere? We’d love to hear from you!

Followers of our Facebook page have expressed special interest in learning historic techniques (like hearth cooking and wood-oven baking), the basics of diverse ethnic cuisines (e.g. Greek, Ethiopian or Peruvian) and advanced from-scratch cooking (like simple cheeses or homemade pasta). If you have an idea for a class or presentation, please let us know at

A storekeeper puts out a rationing sign, Montreal, 1943. Library and Archives Canada—PA108300

Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge: February 2017
CHC invites food bloggers to participate in our Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge. Because the winter larder has been lean for so many Canadians, the February topic is about doing without food (or specific foods). The approach could be an experiment with a historic recipe, a contemporary take on a traditional dish, a report on a visit to a historic site, a family story that relates to the topic, an essay about food history... or any other similar topic that has a Canadian connection.

Some possible angles:
  • Wartime rationing
  • The Irish Potato Famine
  • Privation in early settlements or remote areas
  • Clever food substitutes, like apple pie made with crackers and lemon juice
  • Fasting observances like Lent or Ramadan
  • Meatless, eggless, gluten-, sugar- or dairy-free dishes from the past
We’re looking for blog posts of any length, in either French or English, that relate to the topic. To enter, simply publish your entry within the month of February and post it on the CHC Facebook page before midnight on Tuesday, February 28.

At the end of 2017, we’ll choose our favourite participating blogs and sponsor them for entry into Taste Canada’s 2017 blog category. Bloggers need not contribute every month to be considered.

So far, 16 bloggers have signed up to participate: And here are the pieces posted in answer to the January theme of fish and seafood:  

"Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?"
On March 11, CHC will visit Guelph, Ontario, for a presentation by Professor Catharine A. Wilson of the Department of History at the University of Guelph. “Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?” Harvest Meals and Foodscapes of Plenty in Rural Ontario invites participants to feast their imaginations on meals provided by host families at barn raisings, threshing days and quilting bees in 19th- and 20th-century Ontario.

Plentiful and sumptuous meals were an integral part of these events, a payback for the assistance neighbours freely gave. Hearty food attracted people to the job, kept them stimulated and energized throughout the day, and made them happy to return again. The offering up of food was also a performance: it entertained guests, expressed the host’s status in the neighbourhood, showcased the talents of farm women and created long-lasting memories.

Catharine Wilson holds the Redelmeier Professorship in Rural History. Her current research is on “Bee-ing Neighbours,” the study of reciprocal work, which was funded by a Social Science and Humanities Research Grant. She is also the coordinator of the Rural History Roundtable, a speakers’ series now in its 15th year, and founder and director of the Rural Diary Archive, a searchable digital repository that showcases over 140 diarists and honours the daily lives of rural people. The event will run from 1 to approx. 3 p.m. Further details will be posted on our Upcoming Events page as they become available. A free-will offering will be collected.

Chinese New Year Dim Sum Dumpling Class
On Saturday, January 21, a sold-out crowd of 20 avid student cooks (including CHC members Angela Kryhul and Ellen Pekilis) joined chef and instructor Vanessa Yeung of Aphrodite Cooks for a hands-on dim sum cooking class to tie in with Chinese New Year. The workshops was held at the Ralph Thornton Centre in Toronto (see photos, below.)

Under Vanessa
s capable instruction, they learned how to make Ginger Chicken Potstickers, Siu Mai, Vegetarian Water Dumplings and sweet Fried Sesame Balls. After working hard on shaping different types of bite-sized treats, they sat down for a festive communal meal. Thanks to CHC volunteers Luisa Giacometti, Shirley Farrar, Julia Armstrong, Emily Mackenzie and Sarah Hood, and to Rose Scher and her colleagues at the Ralph Thornton Centre.
Scenes from our Chinese New Year Dim Sum Dumpling class, showing (top left) Pork and Shrimp Siu Mai and (bottom right) Vegetarian Soi Gau “Water Dumplings.” Photos by Sarah Hood

Upcoming CHC Events
  • Date TBA: Canada 150 Dinner.
  • All year: Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge—An online event that invites people to post about Canada 150 food themes.
  • Tuesday, February 7: Great War Cooking at Montgomery's Inn, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Etobicoke, Ontario—Before the CHC embarks on a journey to France for the Vimy Centennial commemorations in April, we’ll be testing and demonstrating dishes from the home front and field kitchens of the Great War in the inn’s historic kitchen. Free with regular admission to the inn.
  • Saturday, February 18: The 10th annual Mad for Marmalade, Crazy for Citrus! (See details, above.)
  • Saturday, March 11: “Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?” Harvest Meals and Foodscapes of Plenty in Rural Ontario, 1 to 3 p.m., MacKinnon Bldg., University of Guelph—Catharine Wilson, founder of the Rural Diary Archive, will speak about meals provided by host families at barn raisings, threshing days and quilting bees in 19th- and 20th-century Ontario.
  • Friday to Tuesday, April 7 to 11: Vimy Ridge 100, Arras, France—As part of the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, the CHC will animate a presentation with demonstrations about food on the Canadian home front during WWI and WWII.
  • Friday, May 26: The Why of Butter Chicken Pizza: Change as a Constant in Canadian Cuisine, Toronto—A talk about the search for a true Canadian cuisine by Lenore Newman, author of the soon-to-be-released book Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey.
  • Saturday, June 3: Catharine Parr Traill Book Launch, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Toronto—CHC member Nathalie M. Cooke of McGill University (founding editor of CuiZine: the Journal of Canadian Food Cultures) and CHC past president Fiona Lucas will speak about their new book, Catharine Parr Traill’s Female Emigrant’s Guide: Cooking with a Canadian Classic. Attendees will have a chance to examine some of the library’s holdings that relate to pioneer Catharine Parr Traill, her family and her domestic writing.
  • Saturday, July 1 (Canada Day): Cross-Canada Confederation Picnic—CHC invites members and friends across the country to host an 1867- and/or 1967-themed picnic and share their photos and videos via a website created for the purpose.
  • July (Date TBA): Railway Food: A Presentation and Meal, Falstaff Family Centre, Stratford, Ontario.
  • Saturday, August 12: Lucy Maud Montgomery Outing, Norval & Glen Williams, Ontario—A full-day tour to the home and gardens where Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery lived from 1926 to 1935. Includes a lunch and transportation from the Toronto area.
  • September (Date & location TBA): The McIntosh Apple—Esteemed food writer Marion Kane will talk about the McIntosh apple, which appeared as a chance sport on a farm near Dundela, Ontario, and has become one of the world’s most cultivated fruits.
  • Saturday, October 21: Annual General Meeting.
  • November (Date TBA): Remembrance Day at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto—Presentations on the theme of 1867: Confederation. Also, the CHC will sponsor two Heritage categories in the fair’s Jams, Jellies and Pickling Competition.
  • Autumn (Date TBA): Taste Canada Awards Gala, Arcadian Court, Toronto—CHC will sponsor the Taste Canada Hall of Fame Awards.
  • November/December (Date TBA): Victorian Cooking Class, Montgomery’s Inn, Etobicoke, Ontario—A hands-on cooking class in the historic kitchen.
  • December (Date TBA): Frost Fair at Fort York, Toronto.
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! 

News and Opportunities

Taste Canada 2017
The 20th anniversary of the Taste Canada Awards/Les Lauréats des Saveurs du Canada is coming up this year, and Taste Canada invites all publishers and authors to submit titles for the 2017 Food Writing Awards. Culinary books written by Canadian authors and published between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016, are eligible.

Taste Canada will honour 20 jury-selected books: five gold and five silver winners in English and in French. A three-person jury, drawn from Canadian academic, publishing, creative and institutional fields, will review entries. The deadline for submissions is February 22, 2017.

Academic Positions Open
The University of Southern Maine is seeking applicants for an assistant/associate professor of Food Studies/Sociology. This is a two-year (2017/18 and 2018/19) non-tenure-track faculty position, requiring expertise in food culture and food systems. The candidate will have an appropriate PhD with a record of teaching excellence in a relevant humanities field, including history and languages, or in a relevant social science field, including anthropology and sociology. There is the potential for this to be renewed as a tenure position  beginning 2019/20. Read the full posting here.

The Culinaria Research Centre at the University of Toronto invites applications for a full-time postdoctoral fellowship in the field of Food Studies. The candidate will work directly with faculty in food studies at the University of Toronto and under the supervision of Culinaria director Daniel Bender. This fellowship is open to scholars who have completed a PhD in Food Studies or any related field in the humanities and social sciences, by the time of appointment and within the past five years. The appointment will be for one year, starting in the summer of 2017. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience, but with a minimum of $31,000. Read the full posting here.

What's Cooking?

CHC board members Luisa Giacometti, Samantha George, Carolyn Crawford and Sherry Murphy are hard at work preparing their presentations (see photo by Samantha George, above) for the observances of the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, which are coming up this April in Arras, France. On Tuesday, February 7, they will offer Great War cooking demonstrations from 1 to 4 p.m. in the historic kitchen at Montgomery’s Inn. (See Events of Interest, below, for further details.)

CHC member Shirley Lum of A Taste of the World is hosting several upcoming food tastings and tours in Toronto, including Chinese New Year Celebrations: Toronto Second Chinatown Food Tour (February 4 and 5); Chinese New Year’s Grand Finale—Lantern Festival on Toronto Second Chinatown Food Tour (February 11 and 12), and Kensington Food Roots Tour: Multicultural Winter Comfort Food (February 25). (See Events of Interest, below, for further details.) 

Before attending the CHC dim sum dumpling class in January, CHC member Ellen Pekilis went right to the source and attended a class in Shanghai; she reported on it in her blog, Ellen's Flavours to Savour.

Digestible Bits & Bites welcomes news from CHC members. To be included, please feel free to submit updates to by the 25th of the preceding month.

Events of Interest

Compiled by Sarah Hood and Sher Hackwell

THIS MONTH (February 2017)
  • Saturday, February 4: BC Truffle Association's Second Annual Truffle Festival, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Vancouver). UBC Farm presents educational talks from experts, truffle dog handlers and truffle cultivation experts, and a tour of UBC’s experimental Truffle Orchard with dog demonstrations. Robin Cort of Vancouver’s Swallowtail Culinary Adventures will provide samples of truffles to complete this rare experience. Proceeds support the Truffle Orchard. Admission: $50.
  • Saturday, February 4: Historic Cooking Demonstrations, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). The volunteer historic cooks at Montgomery’s Inn will be making 19th-century recipes with puff pastry, a meat pie, old-fashioned pea soup and biscuits on the hearth. Derby Cakes, a classic 19-century recipe, will be available to sample. Admission: Free with regular admission to the inn.
  • Saturday & Sunday, February 4 & 5: Chinese New Year Celebrations: Toronto Second Chinatown Food Tour, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Toronto). CHC member Shirley Lum of A Taste of the World hosts this annual food tour of Toronto’s second Chinatown over the 15-day Chinese Lunar New Year festivities. There will be equal portions of food for thought and all the senses as Shirley reviews the greetings, the changing customs and food history, superstitions and traditions connected with the new year. Admission: $50, including curated tastings at a dim sum restaurant, Asian grocery shop and bakery. Capacity: 11. or 416-923-6813.
  • Tuesday, February 7: Wartime Cooking at Montgomery’s Inn, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Etobicoke). See news item, above.
  • Saturday, February 11: Market Fresh: Marmalade & Winter Preserves, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Toronto). The Market Kitchen at the St. Lawrence Market invites participants to work as part of a team to make homemade preserves from seasonal market ingredients, including Meyer Lemon Marmalade, Winterberry Jam and Tequila Pepper Jelly. Admission: $60, including HST and jars to take home. Preregistration required:
  • Saturday, February 11: Sweetheart Tea, two sittings: noon & 2:30 p.m. (Toronto). Gibson House presents a Victorian-inspired tea, including finger sandwiches and sweets in Mrs. Gibson’s parlour. Costumed interpreters serve afternoon tea in the setting of the elegant mid-19th-century home. Guests may tour the museum at their leisure. Not recommended for children under 6 years of age. Admission: $20+HST. Prepayment is required at 416-395-7432.
  • Saturday & Sunday, February 11 & 12: Chinese New Year’s Grand Finale—Lantern Festival on Toronto 2nd Chinatown Food Tour, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Toronto). CHC member Shirley Lum of A Taste of the World hosts this annual food history tour of Toronto’s second Chinatown while wrapping up the 15-day Chinese Lunar New Year festivities. There will be equal portions of food for thought and all the senses as Shirley reviews the festive greetings, the changing customs and food history, superstitions and traditions connected with lanterns, with special treats for the grand finale. Admission: $50, including curated tastings at a dim sum restaurant, Asian grocery shop and bakery. Capacity: 11. or 416-923-6813.
  • Sunday, February 12: St. Valentines Afternoon Tea, 2:30 p.m. (Peterborough, Ontario). The Volunteers of Hutchison House Museum present a Victorian tea consisting of a light lunch of savouries, sweets and tea served in the historic Keeping Room. Tours of the museum will be conducted by costumed guides. Admission: $25. Preregistration is required at 705-743-9710 or
  • Thursday, February 16: Tsiknopempti—Greek Carnival Feast, 6:30 to 10 p.m. (Toronto). Peter Minakis of the Kalofagas Greek Supper Club welcomes diners to the Paint Box Bistro to experience a meal from the Greek festival tradition. The name Tsiknopempti (Burnt Thursday) refers to the smell of charcoal and grilled meats wafting through the air everywhere in Greece! Apokries (Carnival) has already kicked off, and Greeks have begun the revelry, eating, drinking and dancing. This menu includes the street foods that feed the parade goers as well as the taverna dishes that satiate the partiers. Admission: $95 for a full meal with wine.
  • Saturday, February 18: 10th Annual Mad for Marmalade, Crazy for Citrus! (Toronto). Fort York National Historic SiteSee news item, above.
  • Saturday, February 18: History Tea & Talk, 2 to 3:30 p.m. (Toronto). The Market Gallery presents a talk about the current exhibition (“Unearthing Toronto’s Oldest Marketplace: The Archaeology of the North St. Lawrence Market”) and the history of the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, followed by a tea inspired by market ingredients and Edwardian recipes, served in the Market Kitchen. The menu includes scones with preserves and clotted cream, finger sandwiches, cookies and cake. Admission: $18, including HST. Preregistration is required: or 416-392-7604.
  • Monday, February 20: Family Day at Dundurn National Historic Site, noon to 4 p.m. (Hamilton, Ontario). A guided tour of Dundurn Castle, hands-on activities and sampling of historic goodies made in the kitchen. Admission: $11.50 (adults), $9.50 (seniors & youth), $6 (children), free (infants); $30 (family).
  • Monday, February 20: Family Day Wassailing Festival, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Caledon, Ontario). Spirit Tree Estate Cidery presents an award-winning festival that includes outdoor activities and a chance to help promote a good apple crop with the Orange Peel Morris Dancers and orchard processions at noon, 1 and 2 p.m. Admission: $5 (individual), $20 (carload), with some proceeds going to Bethell Hospice and Bethell Hospice Foundation.
  • Thursday, February 23: 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, February 25: Stock Exchange: Historic Cooking Demonstration, 10 a.m. to noon (Hamilton, Ontario). Dundurn National Historic Site presents a cooking demonstration in the remarkable historic kitchen below stairs, where costumed cooks will guide participants through a variety of authentic 19th-century soup recipes using a wood-fired cast-iron range. Suitable for ages 12 and up. Admission: $45, including a sampling of the soups and a tour. Preregistration is required.
  • Saturday February 25: Kensington Food Roots Tour: Multicultural Winter Comfort Food, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Toronto). Local food historian and CHC member Shirley Lum peels back the layers of immigrant food roots, beginning with the founding family, and then the successive waves of immigrants from the 1870s to the present, with equal portions of food for thought and palates as she explores using old maps, photos and recipes. Admission: $50, including all preordered food and drinks. Capacity: 11. or 416-923-6813.
  • Tuesday, February 28: Naturally Nourished Book Launch, 4 to 5 p.m. (Vancouver). Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks welcomes author Sarah Britton to the shop with her second book, Naturally Nourished. She will be interviewed by Sheryl MacKay of CBC’s North by Northwest. Admission: $35, including a personalized copy of Naturally Nourished. 604-688-6755.
LOOKING AHEAD (March 2017)
  • Saturday, March 4: Si Mangia! Memories, Lessons and Recipes from Italian Immigrant Life, 2 to 3:30 p.m. (Toronto). Toronto Public Library–Richview Library presents an afternoon with Luciana Longo, author of Si Mangia! Memories, Lessons and Recipes from Italian Immigrant Life, who will read from her memoir and offer a cooking demonstration.
  • Saturday, March 11: “Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?” Harvest Meals and Foodscapes of Plenty in Rural Ontario, 1 to 3 p.m. (Guelph, Ontario). See CHC news, above. 
  • Sunday, March 12: Phyllo Workshop, 6:30 to 10 p.m. (Toronto). Peter Minakis of Kalofagas Greek Supper Club unlocks the secrets to making phyllo pastry from scratch at Lodge on Queen. The class will make Spanakopita (spinach pie), Tyropita (cheese pie) and custard-filled Bougatsa. A light dinner and refreshments will also be served. Admission: $75.
  • Saturday, March 18: St. Patrick’s Cèilidh, 7 to 11 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery’s Inn presents Irish stew, fresh-baked bread and live traditional music by Gin Lane in the restored 1847 barroom. Admission: $5+HST. Cash bar, $5+HST for a bowl of stew, while supplies last.
  • Thursday, March 30: 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+HST for a bowl of stew, while supplies last. 416-394-8113.
  • Friday, March 31: Phyllo Workshop, 6:30 to 10 p.m. (Montreal). Peter Minakis of Kalofagas Greek Supper Club unlocks the secrets to making phyllo pastry from scratch in the Parc La Fontaine area at 2203 rue de Champlain. The class will make Spanakopita (spinach pie), Tyropita (cheese pie) and custard-filled Bougatsa. A light dinner and refreshments will also be served. Admission: $75.

  • 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 built in 1827. On the tour, visitors will hear stories of 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, it 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.
  • To March 18: Unearthing Toronto's Oldest Marketplace: The Archaeology of the North St. Lawrence Market (Toronto). The North St. Lawrence Market is being prepared for a major rebuild. As part of that process, the citizens of Toronto will have a rare opportunity to look into the city’s past as the building site undergoes a major archaeological dig. Concurrently, the Market Gallery will exhibit archaeological finds from the site, along with historical maps, artworks, photographs and artifacts to tell the story of North America’s longest-running continually operating food market, established in 1803. As the dig continues, new information will be added to the exhibit, showing how historical understanding can change as new research is conducted. 416-392-7604.
  • To Spring 2017: Women on the Homefront: Women’s Contributions During World War II, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Steveston, British Columbia). Gulf of Georgia Cannery presents an exhibit that shows how the women of Canada harvested the crops, kept factories running, looked after the children and raised money for the war effort while thousands of Canadian men were overseas. Admission: $7.80 (adults), $6.55 (seniors), $3.90 (youth); $19.60 (family).

Upcoming Conferences

Compiled by Julia Armstrong

April 26 to 28, 2017 (Napa Valley, California)
From food trucks to quality home-delivery services, casual food and casual dining are igniting the passions of consumers and professionals. For its 19th Worlds of Flavor International Conference and Festival, the Culinary Institute of America has invited food-service experts from around the world to look at the factors driving this rapidly changing landscape.

May 27 to 30, 2017 (Toronto, Ontario)

CAFS presents Food in Canada and Beyond: Communities, Collaboration, Complexity” as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, to be held at Ryerson University. 

June 1 to 2, 2017 (Tours, France)
The European Institute for Food History and Cultures/Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation partners with the Food Studies team (L’Equipe Alimentation – LEA) at François-Rabelais University in Tours to present its third multi- and cross-disciplinary conference, which will cover all historical periods.

June 8 to 9, 2017 (Antwerp, Belgium)

Organized by ESNA (European Society for Nineteenth-Century Art) and MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom) Antwerp, in conjunction with the exhibition Antwerp à la carte, this symposium intends to study the various and complex relationships between food, the experience of eating and 19th-century art.

June 14 to 17, 2017 (Los Angeles, California)
This year’s theme is Migrating Food Cultures: Engaging Pacific Perspectives on Food and Agriculture. Presenters will explore links between the food production and consumption of the Pacific region and its environmental, social and cultural resources.

July 7 to 9, 2017 (Oxford, England)

The Oxford Symposium was founded and co-chaired by Alan Davidson, a renowned food historian and author of The Oxford Companion to Food, and Dr. Theodore Zeldin, the pre-eminent social historian of France. This years theme: Food and Landscape. NOTE: Anyone can download proceedings from years past (for free!).

September 15 to 16, 2017 (New Bedford, Massachusetts)
Deadline for proposals: April 15, 2017
In our global society, people connect with different cultures regularly. The organizers encourage an examination of how this affects food practices. Can food provide a lens through which to view the histories of daily life within a specific community? How can we record and archive food experiences? In what ways does food represent culture? See the suggested topics for 15-minute papers.

October 18 to 20, 2017 (Krems, Austria)

Deadline for proposals: March 31, 2017
Tourism researchers, practitioners and academics gather to examine topics ranging from tourists preferences to marketing strategies. The call for abstracts includes matters of interest to historic cooks and museum staff: experiential consumption, innovative cultural experiences, storytelling, and the history and tradition of culinary and/or wine tourism. (Conference language is English.)

October 26 to 27, 2017 (Rome, Italy)
Participants will consider food production and sustainability, the interrelationships of food and health, and food politics and cultures; see the descriptions of this year
three themes and special focus. Hosted by Gustolab International Institute for Food Studies and Roma Tre University.

November 17 to 18, 2017 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Deadline for proposals: March 5, 2017
Taste isn’t limited to a physical experience. It has a psychological component too, such as when food triggers a memory. The organizers invite proposals on the notion of taste: its characteristics, its cultural evaluation, and its history. See possible topics in the call for papers.

Food for Thought

Food and Museums, edited by Nina Levent & Irina D. Mihalache
(Bloomsbury Academic, 2017). Reviewed by Julia Armstrong, pictured above

The editors of this academic volume set out to “observe and identify intersections between museums and food so that [they] could share accounts of shifting museological and artistic practices in light of food’s increasing presence in museums.” Their work represents the first time that expertise about food and museums has been organized in one collection. Levent is the founding director of Sapar Contemporary Gallery + Incubator in New York City, and Mihalache is an assistant professor of museum studies in the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. 

Food and Museums provides a platter of small bites: each chapter is short, in a format that ranges from scholarly discussion to case study to Q & A; topics are as varied as the locations and endeavours of the curators, scholars and practitioners who contributed. The editors have grouped the content into five main sections, and the liberal use of subheadings further allows the reader to sample here and there. 

After an introduction of theoretical concepts come sections on audience engagement, collecting and exhibiting, and restaurants in museums. The final section examines historical and contemporary ways artists have interacted with and represented food. The authors were sure to incorporate practical advice where possible. Case in point: their interviews with the historic cooks (and CHC members) of Fort York National Historic Site and Campbell House Museum in Toronto. Some of the elements within chapters and the occasional recipes offered might have been better presented as sidebars, but the basic graphic design did not allow for this. Small images appear throughout; unfortunately, only the attractive cover, which depicts a food collection mounted in a display case, is in colour.

Levent and Mihalache have admirably tapped experts from different countries. There is good representation from Canadian scholars. The editors recognize some gaps, such as Indigenous food culture in museums, and wish they could have added interviews with the public. These areas provide opportunities for further exploration. In the meantime, this welcome collection provides an array of best practices and critical thinking to guide those working to present history and culture using food, to engage audiences through sensory experiences—and even to enhance visits to the café.

Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi
(HarperCollins, 2015). Reviewed by Sher Hackwell, pictured above

An exploration of the foods we love: wine, chocolate, coffee, beer, bread (and octopus?), as well as the foods we overconsume: 30 species provide 95% of our global calories. This book presents the necessity to take responsibility now for our food supply, utilizing agrobiodiversity to ensure global food security: “Eating is an agricultural act.”

With the paperback release, award-winning author Simran Sethi is back on the speaker circuit. As an author, journalist and educator specializing in food sustainability, Sethi has presented at and moderated events throughout the world. She has been named an environmental messenger by Vanity Fair, a top-10 eco hero of the planet by The Independent and one of the top eight women saving the planet by Marie Claire.

As excited as I was to delve into Sethi’s chapters on wine, coffee, beer and bread, I skipped to the final chapter, because its Octopus heading piqued my curiosity. It turns out the octopus (a three-hearted marine mollusc) provides a transcendent experience for the author in many ways. To expand further would demand a spoiler alert.

Sethi shines at taking what could be considered a dry subject and building a narrative around it that leaves the reader wanting more. Her book is like a compilation of short stories; Sethi’s journey to six continents takes her (and the reader) on a tasty adventure that blends scientific research with love and soul. For the author, it’s a journey of personal discovery, healing and new-found awareness.

Exceptionally informative, Sethi explores farming practices, culture and history, flavours and tastings, as well as personal anecdotes and insights. Included are well-organized end notes, colourful flavour guides, a Coffee Cupping Form and infographics like the Grain Characteristics of Bread. 

Bread, Wine, Chocolate—although heavily fact-laden—will suit foodies, environmentalists, and globetrotters (to name a few), as Sethi tells a fine tale.


Butter: A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova
(Workman Publishing, 2016). Reviewed by Elka Weinstein, pictured above

Elaine Khosrova’s book is the result of years of research into the alchemical marvel that is butter—its provenance, antiquity and uses, and how it came to be a staple in many types of cuisine.  

Khosrova is a true culinary historian, specializing in stories about food and gastronomic culture. A former pastry chef, she began her career in food publishing at Country Living magazine and then moved on to Healthy Living, Classic American Home and Santé magazines. Khosrova is also the founding editor-in-chief of culture magazine, a national consumer magazine about specialty cheese, featuring cheese recipes that make your mouth water. In 2013, she left the magazine to pursue her research about butter around the world.  

Butter is made from the butterfat that is found as a liquid suspension in milk, mainly cow’s milk, but Khosrova begins and ends the book with stories about yak and water buffalo milk to show how butter is still being made in Asian cultures using ancient methods. Other kinds of butter are discussed along the way, but cow’s milk is her main focus, because it is the most commonly used component in countries that count butter as a staple.  

Butter is thoroughly researched here, both its chemical and physical properties as well as its metaphysical and spiritual connotations. In Europe, butter was mostly made by women who were independent producers, contributing greatly to their household’s income. Dairying gave way, eventually, to industrial processes created by men, but nowadays there are still small-batch dairies that produce artisan butter the way it was originally made.  

In her final chapter, Khosrova explores the use of butter as an ingredient in rich sauces that make up most of the French chef’s repertoire. She explains why and how butter is used in baking, and why butter that is high in butterfat works better in most recipes. The recipes provided have clearly been tested by the author and add a do-it-yourself aspect that completes the book. I highly recommend Butter, both as a good read and as a thorough treatise about a common ingredient.

Review Contributors
  • Julia Armstrong (Toronto)
  • Sher Hackwell (Vancouver)
  • 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
Across the far-flung regions of Canada, a lot is happening in the fields of food and history. This monthly digest is a forum for Canadian culinary historians and enthusiasts to tell each other about their many activities. This is a place for networking and conversation about Canadian culinary history happenings. Each month, Digestible Bits and Bites is shared with members of the Culinary Historians of Canada and other interested persons who ask to be on the distribution list. 

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