Digestible Bits and Bites #48, April 2017

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 48, April 2017

Robert May's The Accomplisht Cook, or the Art and Mystery of Cookery, 4th ed. (London, 1685) is one of the rare books that was on display during the CHC's March visit to the University of Guelph Library’s Archival & Special Collections. This copy belonged to the late Christopher Hogwood, conductor of the internationally renowned Academy of Ancient Music, and a collector of cookbooks. Photo by Julia Armstrong.

CHC News and Upcoming Events

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Culinary Archives, Rare Cookbooks & Rural Diaries
Text & photos by Julia Armstrong

On Saturday, March 11, a group of food history enthusiasts spent an enjoyable afternoon at the University of Guelph. First stop: the McLaughlin Library's Archival and Special Collections (ASC), where Kathryn Harvey, head of the ASC (below right), and Melissa McAfee, special collections librarian (below left), welcomed us and introduced highlights from the Culinary Arts Collection.

The collection is the largest of its kind in North America and is used by researchers all over world. Holdings include close to 20,000 books and archival materials dating from the 17th century to the present. The Culinary Arts Collection was established when Canadian food writer Una Abrahamson donated her extensive library and papers, and has grown to include the archives of several other distinguished cookbook authors, among them Marie Nightingale, University of Guelph Food Laureate Anita Stewart, Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird. It is also the repository for books nominated for the Taste Canada Awards
Kathryn Harvey described some of the significant papers preserved in the ASC. Jean Paré, creator of the Company’s Coming series of more than 200 cookbooks, kept all her correspondence with home cooks, who wrote to ask questions as well as to convey praise and criticism. Research notes and rough drafts are among Edna Staebler’s archives, offering a glimpse into the development of her works on Mennonite cooking. See the ASC web page for details about the collections.
Harvey also introduced one of the more unusual items and "the only source of food allowed in the archives”: a bear made entirely of lard! It was carved (and carefully preserved) in the 1970s by Nick Schweizer, then head chef of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. (Below, CHC president Luisa Giacometti meets "Sir Bearith.")

Participants had a chance to carefully leaf through a few historic cookbooks. 
The Canadian Receipt Book: Containing over 500 Valuable Receipts for the Farmer and the Housewife was published in Ottawa in the year of Confederation. The ASC's copy is one of only three known to exist.

Community cookbooks are a strength of the collection, said McAfee. The Home Cookbook (Toronto, 1877) was a successful hospital fundraiser; 100,000 copies were sold. While the focus is on Canadian works, the ASC staff are also interested in British, French and American influences on Canadian cooking. The Accomplisht Cook, or the Art and Mystery of Cookery, written by Robert May and first published in England in 1660 (the image above shows the 4th edition, 1685), is "significant for the number and variety of recipes it contains," McAfee explained. Supporting experiential learning is also part of the mandate of the ASC, she added. The staff recently assisted a group of food history students who have curated a display that launches this month (see news item, below).

Members of the public are welcome to use the collection. Search the catalogue for specific topics. N.B. The ASC will be closed from April 24 until the fall, as the library is undergoing a major renovation. Check the website for updates. After the renovation, the ASC will resume email, phone and in-person reference services. To allow staff time to retrieve books and archival records for use in the reading room, it’s best to contact them ahead of your visit.

For the second part of the afternoon, about 40 people gathered for a very interesting talk titled "Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? Harvest Meals and Foodscapes of Plenty in Rural Ontario." Dr. Catharine Wilson of the Department of History spoke about food at threshing bees and barn-raising bees. Much of her ongoing research is based on farm diaries (see her project the Rural Diary Archive), which provide insight into the preparations for these feasts.

They served many functions: attracting people to do the work, keeping them energized, and reinforcing community values of hospitality. If the men enjoyed the meal, they would be happy to return to help on that farm another time. “The meal was a performance and women were at the centre of it, evaluated on their housekeeping and their culinary skills,” explained Prof. Wilson. "They were expected to do their very best—to be generous but also thrifty.” Achieving this delicate balance meant avoiding the perception of "outdoing" their neighbours. Cooking reputations would be solidified, and stories about those who put on airs or were stingy sometimes survived for generations.

"Not all reciprocal works days had a bee, but barn raising always did," explained Wilson. "Typically, there would be between 100 and 200 men helping.” The peak period for Ontario barn raisings was from 1870 to 1930. For threshing days, there might be one or two dozen threshermen to feed for several meals, or even for more than one day, making it challenging to know how much to prepare.

According to diary accounts, most of the work, except for canning and pickling, was done in the three days leading up to event. What was on the menu? “Men wanted a familiar hot meal,” said Wilson. That meant meat and potatoes. And, of course, they looked forward to pie. One diarist noted amounts prepared—from 10 gallons of potatoes to 116 lemon pies. Pork was served in early pioneer days because it could be cured, and by Confederation mutton was popular, but in the 20th century, it was essential to serve beef, a high-prestige meat.

Researchers interested in such topics as harvesting, butchering, berry picking, gardening and canning will find accounts of these activities in the Rural Diary Archive, which has an easy-to-use search function. Prof. Wilson invites anyone interested in transcribing entries to give it a try; see the instructions on the website. 

A big thank-you to Kathryn Harvey, Melissa McAfee and Catharine Wilson for their presentations, thoroughly enjoyed by all. Several attendees are already planning their return to the Archival & Special Collections, and others have begun time-travelling back to early Ontario through the online diaries.

Vimy 100 Commemoration Approaches!
Don't forget that from Friday April 7 to Tuesday, April 11, as part of the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, the CHC will animate presentations for visitors to the Vimy Memorial at Arras, France, including demonstrations about trench cooking and food on the Canadian home front during WWI and WWII. Follow our adventure on Facebook at Feeding Victory.

Image courtesy of Baldwin Collection, Toronto (McLaughlin) Reference Library: Canada Food Board poster c. 1914.

OHEA Conference

Photo by Sarah Hood

On March 25, Carolyn Crawford and Sarah Hood attended the Ontario Home Economics Association conference in Guelph, Ontario, on behalf of CHC, where they enjoyed crossing paths with two CHC members who also belong to OHEA: Sandra Venneri and Diane O'Shea.

The conference attendees were intrigued by our exhibit of culinary antiques, historical cookbooks and books by CHC members from Carolyn's collection, and some signed up as our newest CHC members. The OHEA membership is certainly a like-minded group, and our organizations share much in common. We look forward to participating again next year! 

Photo by Sarah Hood

Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge: April 2017
CHC invites food bloggers to participate in our Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge. This month, our theme is a seasonal one: the first fresh foods of spring. What are some of those traditional meals and foods that signal the end of winter for you, like dandelion greens, rhubarb, wild leeks, strawberries or nettles? This topic could also include foods associated with spring feasts and festivals like Easter; the topic is wide open, as long as it has something to do with Canadian food history.

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 April and post it on the CHC Facebook page before midnight on Sunday, April 30. (To guarantee being included in the May newsletter roundup, it would be best to post a few days before the deadline.)

At the end of 2017, we’ll choose our favourite participating blogs and sponsor them for entry into Taste Canada’s 2018 blog category. Bloggers need not contribute every month to be considered.

So far, 20 bloggers have signed up to participate. Here are the pieces posted in answer to the March maple theme:

And, from earlier dates:

Upcoming CHC Events
  • Friday, May 26, 7 to 9 p.m.: 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 Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey, at the George Brown College Chef School (300 Adelaide St. W., Room 253). Admission: $15 (general), $10 (CHC members), and free for George Brown College students, faculty and staff with ID card. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
  • 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, June 3: 1867-themed dinner, Falstaff Family Centre, Stratford, Ontario, with locally grown foods prepared by Chef Liz Mountain.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Saturday, February 24, 2018: Hungry for Comfort: Surviving a Canadian Winter.
  • Saturday, October 13, 2018: Canada’s Table: Our Celebration of Cookbooks.
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

Toronto Garlic Festival Seeks Speakers
The Toronto Garlic Festival seeks speakers for two 25-minute historic talks:
  • Garlic from the point of view of the First Nations and early European explorers
  • Garlic taste and temperance in the City of York in the 19th century
Every September, the Toronto Garlic Festival attracts more than 4,000 visitors. This year, it takes place on September 17 at Artscape Wychwood Barns. Past speakers include Professor Eric Block of Albany State University, Dr. Mike Dixon of the University of Guelph and Karina Kwong of Toronto's Department of Public Health. To find out more, contact director Peter McClusky at 416-888-7829 as soon as possible.

Canada 150 Cookbook Exhibit Curated by Students
The University of Guelph houses of one of the most extensive special culinary arts collections in North America. Adjunct professor of history Rebecca Beausaert and the students in her food history course delved into the holdings this semester, and with the support of the Archival & Special Collections staff, they have created a historical cookbook display and online exhibit commemorating Canada’s 150th anniversary. Called “Tried, Tested, and True: A Retrospective on Canadian Cookery, 1867–1917," it launches on April 7 with a special event in the atrium of the university’s Summerlee Science Complex from 1 to 3 p.m. Cookbook author and University of Guelph Food Laureate Anita Stewart will be among those presenting remarks. Recipes from the featured cookbooks will be sampled.

The  free exhibit continues until December 2017 on the first floor of McLaughlin Library during library hours. There will be a concurrent online exhibit; both focus on eight themes: Domestic Housewife Manuals; Cooking in Agriculture & Rural Life; Cooking in Guelph and the Surrounding Area; Community Cookbooks; Advertising Cookbooks; Cooking in the First World War; Economical Cooking; and Nutrition & Health.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the launch event; RSVP by April 3 to Special Collections Librarian Melissa McAfee at

Seed: The Untold Story
TVOntario is airing a new documentary called Seed: The Untold Story, about passionate seed keepers who are protecting our 12,000-year-old food legacy. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers and Indigenous seed keepers fight to defend the future of our food. The film can be streamed free until April 8 on the TVO website. Also, you can watch an episode of TVO's The Agenda featuring the filmmakers, Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz.

Graduate Journal of Food Studies 4:1
The fifth issue of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies (volume, 4, number 1) is now available online. It features original research articles, book reviews and creative pieces in a new section, Food-Stuff. Contributors include Jessica Galen, Victoria Albert, Claudia Raquel Prieto Piastro, Kendall Vanderslice, Noah Allison, Emely Vargas and Jonathan Biderman. The editors welcome submissions for future issues. Consult their submission guidelines for more details. 
Jane Austen Weekend
From April 7 to 9, JaneAustenDancing presents A Weekend with Jane Austen, an immersive experience at Montgomery’s Inn and other sites. With 2017 marking the bicentennial of Jane Austen’s death, the weekend will focus on Austen herself: her life, family, world and pleasures. 

This event includes historical meals by firelight, music, dancing, hands-on workshops, lectures, demonstrations and displays, open-hearth cooking workshops, a concert of pieces from Austen’s personal music collection, and historical fashion. Featured speakers include:
  • Dr Elaine Bander (President of the Jane Austen Society Canada).
  • Commodore Thomas Hurlbut, Naval Establishment, Crown Forces North America, who will speak on Austen’s naval brothers, Charles and Francis.
  • Kat Akerfeldt of Toronto’s First Post Office, who will give an illustrated lecture on postal arrangements and letter writing in Austen’s time and will teach a workshop on how to write, fold and seal a letter using quill pens and sealing wax.
  • Historical seamstress Elizabeth Webb, who will give an illustrated talk on Regency-era underwear.
  • Lacemaker Linda Lorraine, who will offer a display and demonstration of bobbin-lace making.
  • Toronto Museums staff, who will teach a cooking workshop on foods known to Austen and her family.
The event will begin on Friday evening at Mackenzie House Museum with a visit to the print shop, harp music and singing by Alanna Ellison, historical refreshments and games. Saturday opens with breakfast by the fire at Montgomery’s Inn, followed by an afternoon of lectures, displays and workshops, including a Regency dance class to prepare for the evening's ball, which is open to beginners.

Four historical meals will be offered to round out the experience of life in Austen’s time: two breakfasts and two dinners. More elements will be added to this event; updates, full schedule and admission prices will be posted at JaneAustenDancing. For more information, call 416-578-1031 or follow @JaneAustenDance on Twitter.

Events of Interest

Compiled by Sarah Hood and Sher Hackwell

THIS MONTH (April 2017)
  • Saturday, April 1: Breaking Bread: A Dishing Up Toronto Experience, 2 to 4:30 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). The MICAP Youth program at Montgomery’s Inn invites visitors to taste and experience stories of the past and present by breaking breads from around the world made from local ingredients produced by Ontario farmers. From the wood-fired bread oven to the cast-iron bake kettle, they will discover firsthand the recipes that conjure up a taste of home and heritage for the farmers, youth and staff of Montgomery’s Inn. This event includes admission to the exhibit Gathering Around the Kitchen Table. Admission: $25. Pre-registration is required.
  • Monday, April 3: Museum Morsels, 7 to 9 p.m. (Oshawa, Ontario). Parkwood National Historic Site's Museum Morsels Culinary Heritage explores the history and traditions of the hot cross bun.
  • Tuesday, April 4: Speaking in Cod Tongues, 2 to 2:30 p.m. (Abbotsford, British Columbia). The University of the Fraser Valley hosts Dr. Lenore Newman, who will talk about her latest book, Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey. Refreshments will be served. Admission: Free.
  • Tuesday, April 4: Spring Pop Up Market, 4:30 p.m. (Vancouver). UBC Farm's Harvest Hut invites shoppers to pick up farm-fresh organic eggs ($7 per dozen), seasonal produce, UBC Farm seeds and herbs.
  • Thursday, April 6: Springtime Canning, 7 to 9 p.m. (Ottawa). The Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum presents a preserving workshop with Bernardin Executive Chef Emerie Brine. Admission: $10 per person. Reservation required: 613-991-3053, 866-442-4416 or
  • Friday, April 7: Tried, Tested, and True: A Retrospective on Canadian Cookery, 1867–1917 (exhibit launch), 1 to 3 p.m. (Guelph, Ontario). An event (in the Summerlee Science Complex) to open a student-curated Canada 150 cookbook exhibit at the McLaughlin Library. Admission: Free. RSVP by April 3 to See news item, above.
  • Friday, April 7: The Noble Art: Kitchen Management in Europe, 1300-1700 CE, noon to 1:30 p.m. (Toronto). A lecture by CHC member Dr. Ryan Whibbs, part of the George Brown College Chef School's Food for Thought series, which examines wine, nutrition and culinary history. It takes place on the George Brown campus at 200 King St. E., Room 315. Admission: Free.
  • Friday to Sunday, April 7 to 9: Jane Austen Weekend (Toronto). See news item, above.
  • Saturday & Sunday, April 8 & 9: Vimy 100 Toronto, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Toronto). Fort York National Historic Site pays tribute to the men and women who fought for Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. Admission: Free.
  • Tuesday, April 11: Urban Foraging of Wild, Edible, and Medicinal Plants, 6:30 to 8 p.m. (Vancouver). UBC Farm presents a workshop and guided walk by First Nations Métis herbalist Lori Snyder about urban foraging and the art of medicine making. It will cover identification of wild, edible and medicinal plants and touch on how to incorporate wild foods into your lifestyle, when best to harvest and how to receive the most from these plants. Participants will receive an illustrated "mind-map", a reference guide and learning tool to help integrate these teachings. Admission: $39+GST (adults), $32+GST (students).
  • Thursday, April 13: Myths and Food Fantasies, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Burlington, Ontario). The Farm & Food Care Ontario 2017 Annual Conference includes a keynote address by Professor Timothy Caulfield of the University of Alberta's Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, titled "Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything?" Besides other talks and panels, highlights of Farm & Food Care's 2016 activities will be presented, with the Farm & Food Care Champion Award and a "Taste of Ontario" lunch, all at the Ballroom of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Admission: $100 to $150.
  • Saturday, April 15: Hungering for Inclusion, 2 to 5 p.m. (Toronto). This walking tour and cooking workshop explores Toronto’s tumultuous migration history. Participants will join City of Toronto historical interpreter Chris Theofilogiannakos at Mackenzie House for a cooking workshop and tasting based on recipes that reflect food memories linked to his own Greek migrant story, while sharing their own food memories and stories of migration to Toronto. Admission: $75. Pre-registration is required.
  • Tuesday, April 18: Spring Pop Up Market, 4:30 p.m. (Vancouver). UBC Farm's Harvest Hut invites shoppers to pick up farm-fresh organic eggs ($7 per dozen), seasonal produce, UBC Farm seeds and herbs.
  • Saturday, April 22: Exploring Toronto's Immigration: A Food History Walking Tour, 10 a.m. to noon (Toronto). Chris Theofilogiannakos, a Greek-Canadian and a historical interpreter, will share his immigrant experience to reflect on questions of identity, migration, home, citizenship and belonging. The walking tour begins at Mackenzie House (82 Bond St.) and ends at the Market Gallery in St. Lawrence Market to explore the exhibit Settling in Toronto: The Quest for Freedom, Opportunity and Identity. Admission: $10.
  • Saturday & Sunday, April 22 & 23: Battle of York Weekend, 10 a.m to 5 p.m. (Toronto). Fort York commemorates the 204th anniversary of the Battle of York with musket-firing demonstrations, Georgian cooking in the Officers' Quarters kitchen, site tours and period animation. Admission: $7.96 (adults), $4.87 (seniors & youth), $3.76 (ages 6 to 12), free (5 and under).
  • Sunday, April 23: A Taste of Ikaria, 6 to 9:30 p.m. (Toronto). Kalofagas Supper Club presents a sumptuous meal inspired by the food of the island of Ikaria in the northeast Aegean, which is recognized as a "Blue Zone" locale, where people enjoy longer lifespans than in most partsof the world. Admission: $70 to $85.
  • Thursday, April 27: 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.
  • Saturday, April 29: BC Cider Festival, 2 to 6 p.m. (Vancouver). To kick off BC Cider Week, Txotx Imports and Massey Wines, in collaboration with Northwest Cider Association, present a cider-tasting event at Heritage Hall (3102 Main St.), featuring more than 20 cideries from B.C., the Pacific Northwest and abroad. Participants can meet producers and orchardists while sampling craft ciders. Admission: $40.
  • Saturday & Sunday, April 29 & 30: Canada Cooks! (Scarborough, Ontario). On the last weekend of every month, Scarborough Museum invites visitors to bring history to life through conversation and cooking in the museum's historic kitchens. Admission: Free.
  • Sunday, April 30: To a Tea!, 10 a.m. to noon (Hamilton, Ontario). Dundurn National Historic Site presents a Victorian-era cooking workshop. Participants will prepare a 19th-century recipe with Dundurn’s cook demonstrator in Sir Allan MacNab’s kitchen and take a guided tour of Dundurn Castle. The tour will highlight Victorian tea traditions and the role of the servants in preparing and serving tea. Later, participants will enjoy their baking and tea by gaslight in the historic kitchen. 12 years and older. Admission: $45 per person. Pre-registration is required.
  • Tuesday, May 2: Spring Pop Up Market, 4:30 p.m. (Vancouver). UBC Farm's Harvest Hut invites shoppers to pick up farm-fresh organic eggs ($7 per dozen), seasonal produce, UBC Farm seeds and herbs.
  • Tuesday, May 16: Spring Pop Up Market, 4:30 p.m. (Vancouver). UBC Farm's Harvest Hut invites shoppers to pick up farm-fresh organic eggs ($7 per dozen), seasonal produce, UBC Farm seeds and herbs.
  • Thursday, May 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+HST for a bowl of stew, while supplies last. 416-394-8113.
  • Friday, May 26: The Why of Butter Chicken Pizza: Change as a Constant in Canadian Cuisine, 7 to 9 p.m. (Toronto). CHC presents a talk about the search for a true Canadian cuisine by Lenore Newman, author of Speaking in Cod Tongues: A Canadian Culinary Journey, at the George Brown College Chef School (300 Adelaide St. W., Room 253). Admission: $15 (general), $10 (CHC members), and free for George Brown College students, faculty and staff with ID card. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
  • Saturday & Sunday, May 27 & 28: Doors Open Toronto, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Toronto). Free admission to numerous historic buildings that are not open to the public at other times of the year. This year's theme Fifteen Decades of Canadian Architecture  celebrates Canada 150.
  • Saturday & Sunday, May 27 & 28: Canada Cooks! (Scarborough, Ontario). On the last weekend of every month, Scarborough Museum invites visitors to bring history to life through conversation and cooking in the museum's historic kitchens. Admission: Free.
  • 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 September 24: Prohibition in Huron County (Goderich, Ontario). Huron County Museum explores the story of prohibition and temperance in Huron County. Before prohibition, there were many taverns up and down the roads of the county, and the Gaol housed prisoners not only for public drunkenness but also for violations of the Scott Act. Temperance calls brought about years of prohibition, but in recent times new businesses and agricultural endeavours are bringing new life to an old topic.
  • April 1 to 30: Gathering Around the Kitchen Table: A Dishing Up Toronto Experience (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery's Inn hosts an exhibit curated by Anja Hamilton, Erika Robertson and Rachel Thiessen (Master of Museum Studies students from the University of Toronto). Free with admission to the Inn.
  • April 7 to December 2017: 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.
  • April 28 to May 7: CiderWeek (British Columbia). NorthWest Cider Association and BC Cider producers present ten days of local cider-tasting events, including tap takeovers and cider-pairing meals.

Upcoming Conferences

Compiled by Julia Armstrong

April 22, 2017 (York, England)
This popular annual gathering was started in 1986 by a group of food historians and always features well-known experts. This year's theme is "Birds for the Table!" with talks ranging from archaeological explorations of chickens to the transformation of the turkey.

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 28, 2017 (Leeds, England)
Deadline for proposals: April 15, 2017

Food as it relates to cultural identity, religious observance and lifestyle make up this broad theme. How the media portray food, the politics of food, post-colonial and multicultural aspects of food and how food defines us are all potential topics to be examined

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 2 to July 5, 2015 (Virtual Conference)
The Recipes Project is a DH/HistSTM (Digital Humanities/History of Science, Technology, and Medicine) blog devoted to the study of recipes from all time periods and places. To mark its fifth anniversary, the contributors have planned a series of online events over the course of one month. These will be framed by two traditional panels featuring speakers who are presenting at conferences in the UK, each of which will be recorded and posted online for discussion. Participation is open to all who wish to examine the question "What exactly is a recipe?" Please register.

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 9 to 13, 2017 (Mumford, New York)
The mandate of the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM) 
is to share practical knowledge with those involved in the collection, preservation or interpretation of material culture, traditional skills and historical processes, which includes historical cooking. The theme for this year's conference, to be held at the Genesee Country Village and Museum, is "Breaking Through Barriers: Living History in Modern Times." Check out a video about the conference.

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)

Tourism researchers, practitioners and academics gather to examine topics ranging from tourists preferences to marketing strategies. 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.

October 27 to 28, 2017 (Krakow, Poland)
Deadline for proposals: May 15, 2017
The Department of History and Material Culture of English Speaking Countries at the Pedagogical University of Krakow hosts an exploration of the meaning of food and drink as symbols (during any historical period), in life and sensuality, in relation to political consciousness, and with regard to status, ethnicity, lifestyle, religion or art. Conference language is English. For more details, see the call for papers.

November 17 to 18, 2017 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
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. 

Food for Thought


A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman & Andrew Coe
(HarperCollins Publishers, 2016). Reviewed by Susan Peters, pictured above

An exploration of arguably the greatest dietary crisis every experienced in America. Since a crisis in malnutrition is rooted in its causes, it obviously examines the historic and political context from which the Great Depression developed.

Ziegelman and Coe come to this project with a background in culinary history research. Ziegleman is also the author of 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, and she has curated food-themed exhibits in New York's Tenement Museum. Coe specializes in food history; he has also written Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States and has been involved in several documentaries.

In this book, the authors examine the economic and environmental causes that shaped how Americans ate during the Depression. While their focus is on American history and the impact of political decisions on U.S. citizens, there is some comparison to Canada. While our politicians may have made different decisions about how to deal with the environmental crisis of drought and crop failure, the root causes of the crisis were the same for both countries.

Our Prairies suffered the same successive droughts and subsequent plagues of locusts. Our western farmers were starving like their American counterparts. Masses of people were losing their jobs in the cities, and the stock market crash also affected both countries.

The barter-for-food system reached its height when people were trying to trade something that they had for food, any food. I was fascinated with the investigation into the daily rituals of a prairie farmer's wife versus a labourer in a city with respect to how they put food on their table.

This book also offers a history and evolution of culinary tools. Rural and city cooking are compared with respect to elements such as access to vegetables, fruit or soda fountains. The evolution of tools and equipment like electric mixers, refrigerators and electric ranges is discussed. Each had an impact on daily life. The evolution of the technology to preserve foods had a huge impact on health, especially in the height of the Depression, when food was scarce.

The greatest part of this book is an examination of how the Great Depression was a period of despair for so many people in America. Between droughts that resulted in a lack of agricultural productivity and a lack of prosperity and jobs due to the economic crash, a great many people in America became quite desperate. Malnutrition and starvation were huge problems during this era. With widespread need, government-sponsored social welfare was developed, with a realization that a country must care for its vulnerable citizens.  

I did enjoy how the authors have put the Great Depression into an historical context. Nothing happens in isolation; it is, therefore, valuable to learn how dietary circumstances in America developed from the First World War through the 1920s and '30s. This rich social history of how life circumstances affect diet and the result of diet on health is a very enlightening read.


Tasting Rome, Fresh Flavors & Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City by Katie Parla & Kristina Gill
(Clarkson Potter/The Crown Publishing Group, 2016). Reviewed by Sher Hackwell, pictured above

It's wholly apparent that the authors of the IACP Award Winner for Best International Cookbook 2017 are in love with their adopted city as they explain to readers their preference for exploring Rome from an unconventional viewpoint: "The cobblestoned streets, baroque fountains, pastel palaces, and lively piazzas have obvious appeal. They're easy to love but we're more drawn to the city's surreal bits like the pasta-factory-turned-opera-warehouse next to a giant ruin."

Their approach utilizes Rome's food and drink as a vehicle to explore the city's non-touristic side—like highlighting the working-class neighbourhood of Testaccio versus the expected sights. The chapter on Testaccio (a former meat-packing district) opens with a recipe for Fettucine con rigaglie di pollo—a chicken innards ragù—then follows with an informative history and overview of this colourful district known as Quinto Quarter.

Parla and Gill showcase the best of the city's cuisine by emphasizing dishes and locales known only to Rome's residents. They connect traditional and classic dishes with updated versions while showcasing favourite recipes prepared at neighbourhood trattorias or in home kitchens. Carbonara, for example, a classic mid-20th-century dish, varies widely from one home cook and another, and inevitably passionate discussions ensue regarding which recipe or ingredients are correct.

Tasting Rome is an entertaining history lesson, as most recipes are introduced with a historical morsel. The cookbook includes original and adapted recipes with generous dessert and drinks chapters. It’s like a visual travelogue; matte photographs of lopsided tomatoes, graffitied walls and ancient architecture adorn the pages. These visuals enhance the backstory of this culinarian's city, waiting to be explored the Tasting Rome way. 

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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