Digestible Bits and Bites #20 - December 2014
Below: Ingredients for puddings and cakes at Stir Up Sunday at Montgomery's Inn (Etobicoke, Ontario)

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 20, December 2014

Upcoming CHC Events

Sunday, November 30, (AGM: 3:30 p.m. Party: 4 to 5:30  p.m.)
CHC 20th Anniversary Party and AGM!
Campbell House Museum (160 Queen Street W, Toronto, 416-597-0227)

Amazing: the Culinary Historians of Canada is now 20 years old! We're holding a party to celebrate, with a slide show about the last 20 years with CHC, an overview of the extraordinary jump in the popularity of food history, and some simple down-hearth cooking.

Please Join Us at Fort York Frost Fair
On Saturday and Sunday, December 6 and 7, CHC will have an information booth at Fort York Frost Fair: A Vintage Christmas Market. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so volunteer shifts will be from 9:30 to 1:30 or 1:30 to 5:30. We’ll be hoping to attract new members by handing out food samples and historic recipes. If you can attend, please contact Fiona Lucas ( or 416-781-8153).

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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 the 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

Royal Wrap-up
CHC was at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in two ways this year. First, we sponsored the first Heritage Preserve and Pickle Contest, and the winners were:

Heritage Preserves Class
  1. Patricia Griesser (Oma’s Raspberry Jam)
  2. Mya Sangster (Damson Jam)
  3. Felicite Morgan (Strawberry Jam)
Heritage Pickle Class
  1. Joanne Holt (Pickled Beets)
  2. Cristian Farms (Pickled Beets)
  3. Tom Boyd (Aunt Edna Thompson's Icicle Pickles)
We’re thrilled that Heritage Class winners were also Judges’ Choice winners. Patricia Griesser won in the Jams and Jellies Category, while Cristian Farms won in the Pickle Category. Wow!

CHC also presented two cooking demos at the Lifestyle Stage on Tuesday, November 11. This piece was written by Ryerson journalism student Karoun Chahinian:

     On Nov. 11th, 2014, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair commemorated the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War through agriculturally themed services and memorials. The Culinary Historians of Canada honoured this day with the Royal through a presentation on wartime recipes.
     The Culinary Historians of Canada (CHC) is an organization that researches and celebrates Canada’s culinary heritage. Through presentations, events and publications, the organization’s mission is to educate the public on the nation’s traditions and history.
     “History is relevant and food is relevant, so CHC puts the two together,” said Fiona Lucas, a Co-founder of the organization. “Most of us don’t realize that the food we have does have a history. It’s so interesting to look at what we eat and why we eat it. Food tells you who you are and the whole history of why we got to this point.”
     The audience travelled back to the First World War with the help of Luisa Giacometti, the CHC’s programme chair. Giacometti prepared a classic trench cake, bean loaf and apple sauce cake, which were all served to the audience at the end of the presentation.
     “The cakes and loafs would be sent over to the troops by friends and family,” said Giacometti. “They were popular treats during that period and the simple and dry ingredients would keep for a long period of time. They were called trench cakes for that reason.”
     The simplicity of the cakes and lack of extravagant ingredients and tools reflected the basic restrictions the women suffered from during the period of the First World War. The rationing of food left them with smaller portions and without many culinary options.
     “Initially, the quantities of food were stable,” said Giacometti. “There were enough young people and men who worked on the farms, but when the men were mandatorily sent to war in 1917, there were problems. That was the start of food rationing.”
     This strict rationing led to the government’s strong promotion of personal gardens and farms.
     “Production of agriculture was very important,” said Giacometti. “Farms were being funded and promoted by the government. Gardens were also highly valued because it meant there were self-sustaining households.”
     The organization was founded in 1994 by Fiona Lucas, Christine Ritsma and Bridget Wranich.
     “There was a whole movement of food history in the United States and there was nothing similar happening here in Canada,” said Lucas. “So, I decided with my two colleagues to start the Culinary Historians of Ontario, we made it nationwide four years ago. We love the whole idea of food history because we live food history.”
     The CHC is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and continues to preserve countless recipes and historical archives with the help of its members and directors.
     “We think that the preservation of our culinary history and the maintenance of the recipes of our ancestors is really important,” said Giacometti. “We need to make sure that the people know about this. If you don’t use it and educate and inform, it will get lost.”

Book Award Winners
Two food books were honoured among the four book winners at the recent annual Heritage Toronto Awards: the wonderful cookbook Setting a Fine Table: Historical Desserts and Drinks from the Officers’ Kitchens at Fort York, edited by Elizabeth Baird and Bridget Wranich, and The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement by Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis.

A Taste of Christmas Past
Ireland House Museum ( 2168 Guelph Line, Burlington) is presenting A Taste of Christmas Past: Festive Food and Drink of Yesteryear  on Friday, December 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. A licensed event, it offers guests samples of traditional and seasonal foods from the 1850s to the 1920s, such as Waldorf salad, crumpets, fried cakes, apple soup, figgy pudding, parsnip soup and gingerbread as they explore historic Ireland House lit by candlelight and decorated for a Victorian Christmas. Highlander Brew Co. will be sampling their Blacksmith Smoked Porter. Tickets ($25 per person) must be purchased in advance in person or by phone at 905-332-9888. Not recommended for children under the age of 12. For more information, contact Sylvia Hentz or Brianne Crites at Museums of Burlington, 905-634-3556.

Georgian Christmas Supper
A Georgian Christmas Supper will be held on Friday, December 19 from  7 to 10 p.m. at Montgomery's Inn (4709 Dundas Street West in Etobicoke). As high society pushed the dinner hour ever later during the early 1800s, the ritual of a late-evening supper gradually diminished and then disappeared. The Georgian supper was a fascinating meal, and the Jane Austen Supper Club explores it several times a year. Carefully reconstructed from period sources including Hannah Glasse, John Mollard and Clermont, this meal will be a treat to be enjoyed by candlelight and the comfort of an open fire, a rare opportunity to experience a full historical meal within the walls of one of Toronto's heritage sites. The menu will be posted online by the first week of December. Dress code: historical clothing is encouraged, but optional. Tickets must be purchased by Friday, December 12; tickets are limited. Admission: $45. 416-578-1031. Further  details at

New Food Studies Program
University of the Pacific has opened the first comprehensive Food Studies program on the West Coast. Beginning in fall 2015, the program will be offered at Pacific's new campus in the SoMa district of San Francisco. Students may complete a Master of Arts Degree or Certificate in the classroom or online with a program that combines sociology, history and anthropology. This multidisciplinary program, directed by Ken Albala, is designed to train students to master skills necessary for success in food-related professions. Courses will range across many disciplines and will focus on developing mastery in research, writing and policymaking methodologies and implementation strategies. Students will develop exceptional proficiency in evaluating the social, economic, aesthetic and political impact of food choices made by individuals and groups.

ASFS Competitions and Awards
The Association for the Study of Food and Society has announced its student paper prize competition. Current undergraduate and graduates are invited to submit a paper for the William Whit (undergraduate) and Alex McIntosh (graduate) prizes, respectively. These awards recognize students’ contributions to the field of food studies. Submissions may cover a wide range of issues relating to food, society and culture, and from the diverse disciplinary and trans-disciplinary fields that ASFS encompasses. Winners receive $500, ASFS membership and conference fees, a banquet ticket for the ASFS annual meeting and the opportunity to present prize-winning papers at an ASFS/AFHVS conference. The deadline is February 1. Only electronic submissions will be accepted.

In addition, ASFS has issued its Call for Nominations for its 2015 Book, Article & Pedagogy Awards. Membership in the ASFS is not required, and there is no fee for nominating a book, syllabus or paper. Applicants may self-nominate. The deadline is February 1 for nominations for the following awards:
  • The ASFS Book Award recognizes an outstanding book about food published within the last two years. A cash stipend of $500 accompanies the award.
  • The Belasco Prize for Scholarly Excellence recognizes a peer-reviewed article published in the last two years. A $300 cash stipend accompanies the award.
  • The ASFS Award for Food Studies Pedagogy is given to the teacher of food studies in any discipline who presents a course that uses innovative and successful pedagogical techniques to reach students. A cash stipend of $200 accompanies this award.

Events of Interest

  • Friday, December 5: A Taste of Christmas Past: Festive Food and Drink of Yesteryear (Burlington, Ontario) at Ireland House Museum (see news item, above.)
  • Saturday, December 6: Step into a Victorian Christmas (Toronto, Ontario) at Black Creek Pioneer Village. Bathed in the glow of lamplight and dressed in its finest holiday décor, Black Creek comes alive with music, food and activities. Program only or with dinner options available.
  • Saturday & Sunday, December 6 & 7: Fort York Frost Fair: A Vintage Christmas Market, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Toronto, Ontario) at Fort York. Feel the excitement and charm of the festive season in Upper Canada some 200 years ago, when the local Christmas Market was one of the social and shopping highlights of the year. Wander through the historic buildings of Fort York, where merchants will be selling quality goods inspired by the 18th and 19th centuries. Warm yourself by the bonfire or in the cheerful warmth of the Officers' Mess Kitchen. Free with regular Fort York admission.
  • Saturday & Sunday, December 6 & 7: Ottawa Tea Festival, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Ottawa, Ontario) at Library and Archives Canada. The fourth annual festival includes tastings, ceremonies, workshops and cultural performances. Admission: $12 (advance) $15 (dooor)
  • Sunday, December 7: Christmas Dinner (Toronto, Ontario) at Black Creek Pioneer Village
  • Sunday, December 7: Christmas in the Village, 12 noon to 3:30 p.m. (Pickering, Ontario) at Pickering Village Museum. Visit with the inhabitants of the pioneer village as they share their holiday customs. Enjoy Scottish Hogmanay, Welsh traditions, Victorian English Christmas celebrations and Squire Jonathan's Christmas Ball, or walk in the woods to see how Pickering's first settlers struggled in the wilderness. 905-683-8401
  • Saturday, December 13: Step into a Victorian Christmas (Toronto, Ontario) at Black Creek Pioneer Village (see December 6.)
  • Sunday, December 14: Christmas Dinner (Toronto, Ontario) at Black Creek Pioneer Village
  • Friday, December 19: A Georgian Christmas Supper (Etobicoke, Ontario) at Montgomery's Inn (see news item, above.)
  • Saturday, December 20: Step into a Victorian Christmas (Toronto, Ontario) at Black Creek Pioneer Village (see December 6.)
  • Saturday, December 20: Christmas Cookie Creation for Children, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. (Toronto, Ontario) at Colborne Lodge. Children will have fun making unique and tasty treats for the holidays in this historic baking workshop that uses a Canadian gingerbread recipe from the 1830s. While their cookies bake, participants will tour the house and discover Victorian Christmas traditions and stories. Pre-registration is required, call 416-392-6916. $22.50 + tax (includes supplies and a dozen cookies to bring home).
  • Sunday, December 21: Christmas Dinner (Toronto, Ontario) at Black Creek Pioneer Village
  • Sunday, December 21: Christmas by the Hearth, 1:30 to 3 p.m. (Toronto, Ontario) at Colborne Lodge.Youngsters (5 to 7 years old) will enjoy the warmth of an historic Christmas by decorating gingerbread cookies prepared from an 1831 Upper Canadian cook book followed by an enchanting interval of Christmas stories from long ago, snuggled by the kitchen hearth. Afterward, the children will go upstairs to peek at the Howards' Christmas tree and the presents underneath. Pre-registration required, call 416-392-6916. $17.50 plus tax (includes light seasonal refreshments).

  • February 2015: Mad for Marmalade, Crazy for Citrus! (Toronto, Ontario). The CHC is excited to partner with Fort York National Historic Site for our eighth annual celebration of marmalade and all things citrus. Enjoy marmalade- and citrus-themed workshops, lunch, tastings and a marketplace, and be sure to enter the Marmalade Competition. Your ticket includes a tour of Fort York. Admission $45 + tax. For more information, call 416-392-6907, ext. 225.

  • To December 2014: Bon Voyage / Bon Appétit (Vancouver, British Columbia). The University of British Columbia's Rare Books and Special Collections and historian Larry Wong present an exhibit of menus from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company’s ships, trains, planes and hotels, curated from UBC Library’s Chung Collection of more than 1,000 menus from the 1890s to the 1980s. Most are in English, but some are in Chinese, Japanese, French or German. 604-822-2521
  • To January 4: Christmas at Colborne Lodge (Toronto, Ontario). Warm up by the hearth at Colborne Lodge and take in the sights and smells of a Victorian Christmas. Enjoy the natural greenery decorations, toast the season with a glass of hot mulled cider by the wood stove and nibble on special holiday treats. Holiday admission prices apply.
  • To January 4: A Victorian Christmas (Toronto, Ontario) at Mackenzie House. Enjoy a sample of mulled cider and a biscuit in the warmth of the historic kitchen. Discover the story of how families celebrated Christmas in 19th century Toronto as you tour the Mackenzie home, which is dressed in greenery for the holidays.
  • To January 4: A Roaring Twenties Christmas (Toronto, Ontario) at Spadina Museum. Experience a 1920s Christmas on a guided tour of Spadina. In the kitchen, visitors will enjoy holiday treats made from original recipes and sip mulled cider warmed on the Art Deco gas range.
  • To August 2015: Made in Toronto: Food and Drink Manufacturing in Our City(Toronto, Ontario). An archival exhibit exploring the story of food and beverage production in Toronto, featuring materials from the Toronto Archives, Weston Corporate Archives and the Toronto Public Library, and artifacts loaned from Toronto Museum Services. City of Toronto Archives, 255 Spadina Road, 416-397-5000.

Academic Conferences

December 4-6, 2014 (Montánchez, Spain)

The 39th ICAF Conference  (International Commission on the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition) explores food culture in the age of virtualization and the virtual relationship around social networks. The internet reveals food manners, social and ethnic identities, new behavioural patterns and eating habits, while creating neologisms like “foodporn”, “gastrosphere” and “instafood”.

January 16 & 17, 2015 (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Registration deadline: December 1, 2014
University of Amsterdam, Special Collections hosts the second Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food. The introductory lecture will be given by the leading academic in the field, Professor Josep L. Barona. The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food is the result of a collaborative partnership between the Special Collections (University of Amsterdam), the Amsterdam School for Culture and History (University of Amsterdam) and the research unit Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

March 6-8, 2015 (Little Rock, Arkansas, USA)

The conference will examine ways living historians can collaborate with different groups or each other to further the interpretation of history.

March 26 & 27, 2015 (Tours, France)

The European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food (the IEHCA, Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation) will hold first annual conference within the scope of a continuation of the IEHCA’s work over the last twelve years, carried out through its publications like the "Food & History" and “Table des Hommes” collection), its support for research and its facilitation of networking opportunities among food studies researchers.

June 3-5, 2015 (Montclair, New Jersey, USA)
Deadline for proposals: January 15, 2015

Montclair State University is the first U.S. institution to host ICCAS. The 2015 theme is Opportunities and Challenges for Food and Eating in Society. In addition to developing the central thrust of the conference, presentations will focus on food heritage; foodservice and hospitality; food systems and politics; food science and safety; food marketing; food habits and consumer behaviour, and nutrition and wellbeing. Two types of abstracts are being accepted: 4,000-word abstracts for publication and 250-abstracts for listings. Please consult the guidelines for further information.

June 19 to 23, 2015.

The 2015 ALHFAM (Association of Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums) Annual Meeting and Conference will focus on the variety of tools, both physical and interpretive, that they use to create dynamic Living History experiences. Whether they’re providing a hands-on opportunity in a garden, presenting a dramatic scenario, furnishing a period room, or interpreting a decisive battle, living history interpreters must select the best tool for the job, whether that is a long-handled hoe, an exciting script, a period print, an electronic map or a Windsor chair.

July 8 to 10, 2015
Deadline for proposals: January 31, 2015.

The Conference stream of the 9th International Conference in Critical Management Studies will take place at the University of Leicester. Food and drink markets are situated at the intersection of the global and local, the economic and cultural, the political and passionate. Amidst growing concerns about food-related security, safety, environmental degradation and social injustice, we are witness to a proliferation of alternatives. These are rediscovering, inventing, adapting and developing different approaches to the production, distribution and procurement of food and drink.

The socio-cultural significance of food for individuals and groups means that the viability of alternative food and drink markets is intertwined with consumers’ desires for goods, services and market relations that offer a sense of authenticity and identity in a global marketplace otherwise crowded with homogeneous, standardized offerings and instrumental modes of exchange. Examples such as Slow Food, CSA schemes, foraging, food swaps, and biodynamic production underline two concurrent dynamics. First, the crises facing the hegemonic global food system are inseparable from the systemic and perpetual crises of capitalism. And second, the possibility for alternatives is being practised in the here and now.

What can we learn from the specific practices and narratives of alternative food and drink market actors, and the forms of organizing and identity that make the production and consumption of such markets possible? Relevant contributions include but are not limited to such topics as:
  • Alternative market narratives: How is "doing things differently" made intelligible and credible to others?
  • Alternative market devices and approaches: How are alternative markets practiced?
  • Alternative market identities: How do producers’, consumers’ and intermediaries’ identities enable alternative modes of operating?
  • Alternative futures: How scalable are alternative approaches, and to what extent do they disrupt and/or reproduce existing market relations, inequalities and values?
  • Mainstreaming alternatives: How credible are alternatives when their wares start to occupy supermarket shelves?
  • Alternative points of view: Case studies from the perspective of practitioners are welcome.
Abstracts should be 500 words maximum, saved as a Word document, and should include affiliation and contact details for author(s). They should be sent to Jennifer Smith Maguire at Questions may be directed to her or to John Lang ( or David Watson ( Authors will be notified of the outcome of their submission by March 20.

October 17-18, 2015 (Guelph, Ontario)
Deadline for proposals: January 16, 2015

The University of Guelph hosts a conference dedicated to the exploration of artifacts of the agrarian past and invites proposals that begin with a material artifact of everyday life, either made or used, and explore it as a valid historical source that gathers meaning when understood in the
context of surviving written records, family history, fashion trends and international commerce. Submit a 400-word proposal and one-page CV to C. Wilson at Further guidelines are available online.

Food for Thought

Food Will Win the War: The politics, culture, and science of food on Canada's home front by Ian Mosby
(UBC Press, to be released January 2015)

During the Second World War, as Canada struggled to provide its allies with food, public health officials warned that malnutrition could derail the war effort. Posters admonished Canadians to "Eat Right" because "Canada Needs You Strong" while cookbooks helped housewives become "housoldiers" through food rationing, menu substitutions, and household production. Ian Mosby explores the symbolic and material transformations that food and eating underwent as the Canadian state took unprecedented steps into the kitchens of the nation, changing the way women cooked, what their families ate, and how people thought about food. Canadians, in turn, rallied around food and nutrition to articulate new visions of citizenship for a new peacetime social order. CHC member Ian Mosby is a historian of food, health, and nutrition in Canada and a postdoctoral fellow in the L. R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University.

Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the reinvention of American taste by Luke Barr
(Clarkson Potter, November 2014)

Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste and the limits of snobbery. Without quite realizing it, they were shaping today’s tastes and culture, the way we eat now. The conversations among this group were chronicled by M.F.K. Fisher in journals and letters—some of which were later discovered by Luke Barr, her great-nephew. In Provence, 1970, he captures this seminal season—complete with gossip, drama and contemporary relevance.

Garlic, an Edible Biography: The history, politics, and mythology behind the world’s most pungent food by Robin Cherry
(Roost Books, November 2014)

Garlic is the Lord Byron of produce, a lusty rogue that charms and seduces you but runs off before dawn, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Called everything from rustic cure-all to Russian penicillin, Bronx vanilla and Italian perfume, garlic has been loved, worshipped and despised throughout history. No writer has quite captured the epic, roving story of garlic—until now. While this book does not claim that garlic saved civilization (though it might cure whatever ails you), it does take us on a grand tour of its fascinating role in history, medicine, literature, and art; its controversial role in bigotry, mythology and superstition, and its indispensable contribution to the great cuisines of the world. And just to make sure your appetite isn’t slighted, Garlic offers over 100 recipes featuring the beloved ingredient.

(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. 


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