Digestible Bits and Bites #36 - April 2016

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 36, April 2016
CHC Board member Sylvia Lovegren introduces speaker Gurth Pretty at the sold-out Victualling Nelson's Navy event at the Naval Club of Toronto. Photo by John Ota.

News and Upcoming Events

Naval Dispatches
It was a full house at the The Naval Club of Toronto on March 15 when about 60 people gathered to hear cheese expert and War of 1812 naval reenactor Gurth Pretty present a fascinating talk on Victualling Nelson's Navy (pictured above).

Period snacks, a plethora of curious food samples and a bar stocked with plenty of grog enlivened an already pleasurable evening's diversion. Congratulations are due to the organizers—especially Sylvia Lovegren and Sherry Murphy. And the event could not have run so smoothly without the support of volunteers Sharon Hart and Michelle Gatien Thomas. Many thanks!

Some of the period refreshments provided at the Victualling Nelson's Navy event by Sherry Murphy (who also provided the calligraphy), Mya Sangster, Sylvia Lovegren and Sarah Hood. Photo by Sarah Hood.

Upcoming Events
We're working on some new events both in and out of Toronto. Stay tuned for more news as we finalize our plans!

Call to Book Reviewers and Authors
If you're an author and a member or friend of the CHC, we'd love to hear about your latest book. Please feel free to announce its publication on our Facebook page, and to let your newsletter editor know about it by emailing details to Sarah Hood at

Also, if you're a CHC member who'd be interested in volunteering to review books, please let Sarah know what types of books you'd like to review. We most often cover scholarly or popular food history books and cookbooks for traditional or historical cuisines.

Join Us On Facebook!
If you're not among the 400 or so members of our Culinary Historians of Canada page on Facebook, you missed out on this month's animated food history chatter, which included discussions of Canada's recent mustard pickle meltdown, Purity brand hardtack, hot cross buns and the history of back bacon.
Join the Culinary Historians of Canada!

CHC members are part of a network of people dedicated to exploring Canada’s culinary history. Benefits include discounts on special events and access to members-only activities like the Picnic in Prince Edward County. In addition, members are listed in the CHC directory and receive their own copy. The membership year runs from September to August. Join us today!
  • Regular Membership: $30 (1 year) $55 (2 years)
  • Supporting Membership: $55 (1 year) $75 (2 years)
Download a membership form here or contact to find out more.

News and Opportunities

Harvard Seminar on Reading Historic Cookbooks
From June 5 to 10, the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University presents Reading Historic Cookbooks: A Structured Approach, a seminar taught by Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, author of Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983).

The seminar, which takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will cover such themes as ingredients; the cook’s workplace, techniques, and equipment; meals; cookbooks; and the worlds of the publisher, the writer, the reader, the cook and the eater. Participants will examine selections from English and American cookbooks from the late 14th century to about 1910, and will view some rare cookbooks from the library’s culinary collection.

The participation fee is $350, and a maximum of sixteen participants will be accepted. The fee covers the introductory dinner and daily lunches. The application deadline is April 25. An application form is available online.

Sophie Coe Prize 2016
May 1 is the deadline for this year’s Sophie Coe Prize for an essay on food history. The prize is awarded annually in memory of food historian Sophie Coe, who is especially known for her work on chocolate. Entries can be essays or articles published after May 1, 2015, including new research into an aspect of the history of food. Entries must be in English, and between 1,500 and 10,000 words. 

Call for Submissions: History of Vegetarianism
Chapter proposals are invited for a new interdisciplinary and transnational volume focusing on the social and cultural contexts of vegetarianism throughout history. Tentatively titled The Vegetarians’ Dilemma: Re-Thinking Food Choice Throughout Time, this volume will represent the first scholarly collection of essays that critically considers vegetarianism as both a worldwide phenomena and an aspect of the longue durée of history, and seeks to explain vegetarianism as a global, social, and historical continuity. It will be published by the University of Arkansas Press as part of its Food and Foodways Series.

To contribute, send a 300-500 word abstract of your proposed essay and a brief CV to Adam Shprintzen at Marywood University ( by May 30. If selected, first drafts of chapters (approximately 6,000-8,000 words in length) will be due by January 15, 2017. More detailed submission guidelines are available online.

2016 Art of Eating Prize
The winner of the 2016 Art of Eating Prize is Toni Tipton-Martin for her book The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks (University of Texas Press, 2015). She’ll received $10,000 and a specially crafted hand-wrought ladle, an emblem of the prize.

Author and activist Tipton-Martin founded the nonprofit SANDE Youth Project; she is a co-founder of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a founder of Foodways Texas. In 2015, she hosted Soul Summit: A Conversation About Race, Identity, Power and Food, a three-day event held in Austin, Texas. She is also the owner of a rare collection of more than 300 African-American cookbooks.

Now in its second year, the Art of Eating Prize is awarded annually by The Art of Eating, an online magazine, to the author of the year’s best book about food (or food and drink together). The nomination period for 2016 books will open in the last quarter of 2016.

Chopped Canada Casting Call
Chopped Canada on Food Network Canada is looking for grandmothers, firefighters and young people aged 9 to 17 who can cook and who would like to compete on the show. Course by course, the competitors will be “chopped” from the competition until only one remains and takes home the prize money. The application deadline is April 11. All the information needed to apply can be found at the Chopped Canada casting site.

Cheesemaking Workshops
Doreen and Peter Sullivan of Niagara-on-the-Lake (pictured above) have contacted us to let us know that they offer workshops in Making Cheese at Home that demonstrate the basic principles of cheese making and show how to make a Camembert and a Roquefort style cheese using ordinary kitchen facilities and equipment. Participants help make the cheeses and take home a sample of each to finish and age at home. A folder with full instructions is included, and a starter kit is available for purchase.

The cost is $190 per person (with a minimum of four participants and a maximum of eight) plus a $25 processing fee. Lunch and a cheese tasting is included. A group of eight can register together for the price of seven. For more information, visit Making Cheese at Home or contact 905-354-8873 or

Events of Interest

THIS MONTH (April 2016)
  • Saturday, April 2: The Royal Banquet—India’s Palace Cuisine, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Toronto). Take your place at the royal table and sample Shammi Kababs (pan fried lamb patties) served with spicy tomato chutney and warm wedges of naan, followed by Chicken Korma (chicken cooked in a nutty, creamy sauce) and Saag Paneer Masala—cubes of Indian cottage cheese cooked with spinach served over basmati rice. Leave room for dessert—delicious Mango Kulfi (Indian ice cream)! Part of a series of classes on The Cuisines Of India with cookbook authors and food historians Smita and Sanjeev Chandra at George Brown College. Admission: $85 per class. Register online.
  • Sunday, April 3: Qing Ming Festival in Toronto's Second C‌hinatown, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Toronto). Join food historian and CHC member Shirley Lum of A Taste of the World in exploring Toronto's second Chinatown history while celebrating a little-known lunar Chinese festival. Qing Ming Festival takes place 106 days after the winter solstice, which in 2016 falls on March 4. Savour the rich customs, rituals and superstitions connected with food offerings from the BBQ and bakery shops, plus the restaurant! Tour starts at Lucky Moose Mart (393 Dundas Street West). Admission: $50 (adults). $45 (students & seniors). $35 (children). Includes hosted dim sum plus tastings at BBQ & bakery. Pre-Register with Shirley at 416-923-6813.
  • Tuesday April 5: A Cultural Journey Through Italian Wines, Lecture III (Toronto). The Istituto Italiano di Cultura presents a lecture by Italian wine expert Gaia Massai covering wine and health, the wines of Southern and Insular Italy, wine pairings, the “dos and don’ts” of buying and storing wine and how to make sense of a wine label, with a guided tasting of three wines from Southern Italy. Admission: $60 per lecture or $150 for the series of three. 416-921-3802, ext. 228
  • Thursday, April 7: Edible Memory: How Tomatoes Became Heirlooms and Apples Became Antiques, 2 to 4 p.m. (Toronto). The History Department at the U of T presents a lecture by Jennifer Jordan of the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee (author of Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods), who will discuss ways that people around the world have sought to identify and preserve old-fashioned varieties of produce: a powerful connection to a shared genetic, cultural and culinary past. UTSG Department of Sociology (725 Spadina Avenue), Room 240. Admission: Free
  • Sunday, April 10: Cooking with Hannah Glasse, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Toronto) Fort York Historic Foodways Program  Volunteer Historic Cook Mya Sangster leads a historic cooking class in the 1826 Officers' Mess Kitchen at Fort York National Historic Site. Before Martha Stewart and Julia Child, even before Mrs. Beeton, Hannah Glasse was the best known British cookery writer of the 18th century.  Multiple editions of her cookbooks were best sellers for nearly 100 years. Using recipes from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747) and The Complete Confectioner (1760) you will learn to create a menu from roast to pudding. Admission: $75 + HST, including lunch and recipe packages. Pre-registration and payment are required. 416-392-7484
  • Friday to Sunday, April 15 to 17: Toronto Jane Austen Festival (Toronto): POSTPONED
  • Thursday, April 21: Francis Shirriff and the Canadian Dinner Table, 7:15 p.m. (Brampton). The Brampton Historical Society presents an illustrated lecture by CHC member Sarah Hood at the Heart Lake Community Presbyterian Church. Admission: Admission: Free (BHS members). $5 (non-members)
  • Saturday & Sunday, April 23 & 24: Battle of York Commemoration, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Toronto). Fort York honours the 203rd anniversary of the Battle of York with Georgian cooking in the Officers' Quarters kitchen, site tours and period animation. Admission: $7.96 (adults). $4.87 (youth & seniors). $3.76 (6-12). Free (5 and under).
  • Thursday, April 28: Thirsty Thursday, 7 to 10 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery’s Inn presents Thirsty Thursday tavern night with beer, wine, or a Thomas Montgomery speciality 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
  • Sunday, May 1: Little Cakes and Biscuits, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Toronto) Fort York Historic Foodways Program  Volunteer Historic Cook Mya Sangster leads a historic cooking class in the 1826 Officers' Mess Kitchen at Fort York National Historic Site. Learn to make delicious baked Georgian cakes and biscuits using the wood fired brick oven in the 1826 Officers' Mess Kitchen. Enjoy the delightfully decorated Queen Cakes (based on a 19th-century still-life painting), Oat Cakes, Shrewsbury Cakes, Filbert Biscuits, Chocolate Biscuits and more. Admission: $75 + HST, including lunch and recipe packages. Pre-registration and payment are required. 416-392-7484
  • Thursday, May 26: Thirsty Thursday, 7 to 10 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery’s Inn presents Thirsty Thursday tavern night with beer, wine, or a Thomas Montgomery speciality 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
  • Sundays: Gibson House Tea & Tour, 1 to 4:30 p.m. (Toronto). There's tea, cookies and a seat for you at the harvest table in the 1850s historic kitchen every Sunday. Free with regular admission.
  • To Fall 2016: 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

Academic Conferences

April 23, 2016 (York, UK)
Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions

April 26 & 27 (Edinburgh)
A two-day symposium at Summerhall; a collaboration between the Queen Margaret University MSc Gastronomy program and the University of Gastronomic Sciences, Italy.

May 12 to 13 (New York City)

A conference of the Fales Library at New York University.

May 31 to June 1, 2016 (Dublin)

The biennial Dublin Gastronomy Symposium.

June 22 to 26, 2016 (Toronto)

University of Toronto Scarborough Campus hosts the joint conference of the Association for the Study of Food and Society, Agriculture Food and Human Values and the Canadian Association for Food Studies.

July 4 to 7, 2016 (Leeds, UK)
The 23rd International Medieval Congress aims to cover the entire spectrum of famine to feast through multi-disciplinary approaches.

July 8 to 10, 2016 (Oxford, UK)

The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery.

December 2 to 6. 2016 (Melbourne, Australia)

Deadline for proposals: May 15, 2016
The 21st Symposium of Australian Gastronomy invites proposals from academics and independent scholars, artists and activists, cooks and chefs, journalists and writers, food producers and artisans in the form of panel discussions, presentations, literary reflections, manifestos, performances and interactive experiments relating to utopia and gastronomy. Send enquiries and proposals 350 words or less along with a 100-word biography of the presenter/s before 15 May 2016 to the symposium committee: Kelly Donati ( and Jacqueline Dutton (

Food for Thought


Fast and Fearless Cooking for the Genius by CHC family member Ann Tudor (For the Genius Press, 2016)
Home cooking is making a comeback, whether for health, entertainment, economy, or the simple joy of learning. Ann Tudor’s cooking philosophy focuses on impromptu, innovative, and improvisational meals. Instead of set recipes, the book emphasizes riffing and playing with food.

Here are kitchen secrets, stories, and free-wheeling kitchen moves. For anyone who forgot to learn how to cook, this is a chance to learn. The book is a boon to those who need to get food on the table with no delay. Long-time cooks as well will find new tricks and tips to encourage efficiency and improvisation. This is more than cooking wisdom; it is also a tight little stash of timeless kitchen secrets. Tudor shares her revelations and shortcuts and revolutionary ideas, pulling readers into the warmth of her kitchen and her life.

Here are meals and dishes that you can prepare when you get home (exhausted) from work, much less expensive than a diet of take-out and restaurant meals. She teaches you to fly by the seat of your pants, to cook without a net. In short, to riff. She outlines basic and easy principles and techniques for cooking. Using ingredients and methods that are sometimes idiosyncratic, She presents her credo: Don’t be afraid, have a basic larder with some normal ingredients and some that are new to you, and approach the whole business in a spirit of play.

Take note: There's a discount code for the eBook version of Fast and Fearless Cooking: fast-fearless-cooking-ftg

Pride and Pudding: The History of British Puddings Savoury and Sweet by Regula Ysewijn (Murdoch Books, 2016)
Captivated by British cuisine—from its ancient savoury dishes such as the Scottish haggis to traditional sweet and savoury pies, pastries, jellies and ices, flummeries, junkets and jam roly-poly—Ysewijn tells the story of British food, paying homage in particular to the great British pudding, which is versatile and wonderful in all its guises.

By tracing back to authentic cookery texts, the earliest of which dates from the 14th century, Ysewijn has recreated more than 80 recipes for the 21st century, and in the process has rediscovered long-forgotten flavours and food fashions. Part food history and part recipe book, filled with stunning photographs that are beautifully styled and that capture the essence of Britishness through its food, this is a refreshingly different kind of cookbook.

Philosophers At Table: On Food and Being Human by Raymond D. Boisvertand Lisa Heldke (Reaktion Books, 2016)
One of the most important things we do every day is eat. The question of eating—what and how—may seem simple at first, but it is dense with possible interpretations, reflecting the myriad roles food plays in our lives. In fact, as Boisvert and Heldke show in this book, it’s difficult to imagine a more philosophically charged act than eating. Philosophers at Table explores the philosophical scaffolding that supports this crucial aspect of everyday life, showing that humans are not just creatures with minds, but creatures with stomachs.

Examining a wealth of myths, literary works, histories and films—as well as philosophical ideas—the authors make the case for a philosophy of food. They look at Babette’s Feast in a discussion of hospitality as a central ethical virtue. They compare eating a fast-food meal in Accra with dining at a molecular gastronomy restaurant as a way of considering the nature of food as art. And they describe biting into a slug to explore tasting as a learning tool, a way of knowing. A surprising, original take on something we have not philosophically savoured enough, Philosophers at Table invites readers to think in fresh ways about the simple and important act of eating.

(Descriptions based on information provided by the publishers)
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 request to be on the distribution list. Everyone is welcome to submit items for publication, as long as the information arrives in the editor’s inbox at by the 25th of the previous month.
The Culinary Historians of Canada would like to share this digest with a wide audience. You are encouraged to post or forward this information. 


  • To receive their free monthly edition of Digestible Bits and Bites, interested readers need only send a request with their email address to the editor.
  •  Submissions to Digestible Bits and Bites are welcome at, although inclusion is at the editor’s discretion. Links to relevant websites are appreciated but not essential.
  • Past issues of Digestible Bits and Bites are posted onthe Culinary Historians of Canada website.
Copyright © 2016 Culinary Historians of Canada, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp