Digestible Bits and Bites #25 - May 2015

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 25, May 2015
On April 28, CHC members and others attendees were treated to a fascinating slice of vegetarian history and delicious vegetarian treats as David Alexander, Executive Director of the Toronto Vegetarian Association, discussed the history of vegetarianism in Toronto. The owners of YamChops (705 College St at Montrose Ave), Canada’s first—and only—vegetarian butcher shop, kindly dished up chickpea "tuna", carrot "lox" and sensational black bean-chocolate brownies. (Photo by Shirley Lum)

CHC News and Upcoming Events

Lost Chinatown Food Tour
CHC and A Taste of the World Walks present a unique event on Sunday, May 31 from  11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Meet at 10:50 a.m. on the steps of Toronto's Old City Hall (60 Queen Street West) to celebrate Asian Heritage Month while preparing for the Dragon Boat Festival with CHC and Shirley Lum, Food Historian and founder of A Taste of the World Walks. This specially arranged food walking tour includes a hosted dim sum (luncheon) and a talk and demonstration of the festive food connected with the Dragon Boat Festival.

Trace where the seeds of Toronto's lost first Chinatown were planted back in 1878 and uprooted several times before landing at its current and better known Spadina/Dundas quarters. As we stroll down memory lane with Shirley, we will look at archival maps and photographs from the 1920s, 1930s and 1990s of the old quarters' food scene while hearing historical and personal stories of legendary locals, chop suey eateries, bakeries, and dim sum houses that will bring the area alive again.

For added nostalgia, we will drop into the oldest family-run dim sum restaurant for 'Low-Wah Kew" dim sum AKA old-timers' dim sum, complete with a Chinese Horoscope book reading, which will reveal your animal sign and how to get the most out of the Year of the Goat! We will end with Shirley talking about the history and legend behind the lively Dragon Boat Festival, and a demonstration of one of the special dishes made for this lively festival.

Shirley Lum is a frequent guest on CBC Radio's Metro  Morning and Fresh Air who contributes feature articles to The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, National Post and Tornoto Sun. She has been honing her research of Toronto's lost first Chinatown since she established her business, A Taste of the World Tours, in 1993. She's technically a fourth-generation CBC AKA Canadian-born Chinese, born and bred in Toronto.

Pre-Register at 416-923-6813 or Admission: $50 (general). $45 (CHC members) $40 (students with ID)
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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!
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News and Opportunities

Toronto Jane Austen Festival!
From May 29-31, experience Jane Austen's world through the foods, fashions, music, games, smells and sounds she knew. The weekend is packed with lectures, hands-on workshops and tours. From delicious historical meals to writing with a quill pen and the coolest dance moves from 1815, this weekend will immerse you in the world Austen lived in. Featuring some of Toronto`s most beloved historic sites and outstanding speakers such as the CHC's Fiona Lucas, royal historian Carolyn Harris and Toronto's First Post Office assistant curator Kate McAuley Akerfeldt.

Weekend highlights include Fiona's talk on sugar plums, three Georgian meals, a cheese tasting session, a concert of music from Austen's personal collection, letter-writing with quill pen and sealing wax, an illustrated talk on Regency fashion, and a talk and demonstration of bell-ringing at historic St James's Cathedral in Old Town Toronto. For more details, see

Special Issue of French Historical Studies
"Food and France: What Food Studies Can Teach Us about History" has just been published as a special issue of French Historical Studies, 38:2 (April 2015), co-edited by Bertram M. Gordon and Erica J. Peters. It includes the following chapters:
  • Julia Landweber, “This Marvelous Bean”: Adopting Coffee into Old Regime French Culture and Diet"
  • Philippe Meyzie, "La construction de la renommée des produits des terroirs: Acteurs et enjeux d’un marché de la gourmandise en France (XVIIe-début XIXe siècle)"
  • Martin Bruegel, "Workers’ Lunch Away from Home in the Paris of the Belle Epoque: The French Model of Meals as Norm and Practice"
  • Patricia Tilburg, “'Sa Coquetterie Tue la Faim': Garment Workers, Lunch Reform, and the Parisian Midinette, 1896-1933"
  • Kenneth Mouré, "La Capitale de la Faim: Black Market Restaurants in Paris, 1940-1944"

April ASFS Newsletter
The April 2015 edition of the newsletter of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS). Member submissions for future issues in this, the association's 30th anniversary, are welcome at

International Year of Pulses
Do you have any early historical recipes using chickpeas or lentils? In order to celebrate the upcoming International year of Pulses and to showcase the importance of Pulses in Canadian agriculture, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is currently designing, in partnership with Pulses Canada, a travelling exhibit on Pulses. As part of this exhibit, the museum is currently looking for early recipes using peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils. The museum would like to include some recipes in the exhibit to demonstrate the historical impact of peas, beans, chickpeas and lentils on Canadian food. While peas and beans are fairly common in Canadian cuisine, historical lentil and chickpea recipes are proving to be harder to find.

Cédric Brosseau, Assistant, Curatorial Research at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is reaching out CHC members for recipes that fit this bill. Contact him at 613-230-2770, extension 2015 or

Events of Interest

MAY 2015
  • Saturday & Sunday, May 9 & 10: Breaking Down the Barriers to History: Improving Accessibility & New Experiences in Living History (Morrisburg, Ontario). ALHFAM Central Canada presents its annual conference at Upper Canada Village.
  • Sunday, May 10: Ah, What an excellent thing is an English Pudding!, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Toronto) Fort York presents an historic cooking class exploring puddings sweet or savoury, baked, boiled or fried. Participants will discover the diverse array of 18th- and 19th-century puddings and cookery methods using cloths, pans, basins or plates in the 1826 Officers' Mess Kitchen. Admission: $75+HST includes lunch and recipe package. (Pre-registration and payment required.) 416-392-7503
  • Sunday, May 10: Mother's Day Tea and Tour, 1 to 4 p.m. (Etobicoke). Montgomery's Inn invites you to bring Mom to the Inn to celebrate Mother's Day with an all-ages afternoon Fancy Tea. Cream Scones with preserves and lemon tarts. Admission: $10+HST includes a tour of the Museum.
  • Sunday, May 10: Gibson House Mother's Day Tea, two sittings: noon & 2:30 p.m. (Toronto). Gibson House Museum offers a Victorian-inspired tea for Mother's Day featuring teas, sweets, finger sandwiches and fresh-baked scones in the 19th-century farmhouse. Pre-registration and pre-payment required. Seating is limited. $25+HST per person includes a special gift for Mom to take home. 416-395-7432,
  • Sunday, May 10: Mother's Day Brunch, two seatings: 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. (Toronto) Black Creek Pioneer Village celebrates Mother’s Day with a delicious brunch and tea experience with a lighthearted Victorian etiquette lesson and a springtime stroll through the beautiful historic Village at Black Creek. Admission: $44.95 + HST (general). $40.50 + HST (Black Creek & TRCA Parks members). $26.95 + HST (children 5-12). Free for children 4 and under. Advanced reservation is required: 416-667-6295 
  • Sunday, May 10: Mother’s Day Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, five teatimes: 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. & 3 p.m.  & Springtime Event, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Burlington, Ontario). Ireland House Museum presents a tea party inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with actors portraying characters from the story. Participants are encourage to wear a special hat! The tea will include premium teas and traditional tea refreshments such as sandwiches, scones with cream and preserves, gourmet French macaroons and other recipes inspired by Alice. Meanwhile, Ireland House Museum comes alive with a free springtime event highlighting the life and times of the women who inhabited the historic house throughout the generations. Limited tea party seating; advance registration required: 905-332-9888. Admission: $30 (adult). $25 (children 5-12). Free for children under 5.
  • Monday, May 18: Victoria Day at Fort York, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Toronto). Tours, kids’ activities and demonstrations of Georgian-era cooking techniques in one of the oldest kitchens in Toronto. Admission: $7.96 (adults). $4.87 (seniors/youth). $3.76 (children 6-12). Free (children 5 & under).
  • Monday, May 18: Victoria Day Tea and Tour, 1 to 4 p.m. (Etobicoke). Montgomery's Inn presents an all-ages afternoon tea fit for a Queen. $10+HST includes a guided tour of the Museum.
  • Saturday & Sunday, May 23 & 24: 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.
  • Saturday, May 30: Tea & Parlour Politics: Spring Baking Workshop, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. (Toronto). Mackenzie House offers a free workshop (ages 16+) with period afternoon tea recipes prepared on the wood stove in the historic kitchen and discussions of the ways in which tea serving customs were intertwined with the politics of Victorian women's lives. Admission: $25+HST includes afternoon tea. (Tickets must be purchased in advance.) 416-392-6915,
  • Thursday, May 28: Thirsty Thursday, 7 to 10 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery's Inn welcomes visitors to Thirsty Thursday tavern night at the Inn, where they can enjoy a glass of beer, cider, wine, or a Thomas Montgomery specialty in the restored 1847 barroom with Irish stew, fresh baked-bread and live traditional music. Free admission, cash bar, $5 for a bowl of stew while supplies last.
  • Friday to Sunday, May 29 to 31: Jane Austen Festival, (Toronto). A panoply of events in full Regency style, including food, dance, workshops and more (See listing above.)
  • Saturday, June 20: Pickering Museum Summer Solstice Supper, 6:30 p.m. (Pickering, Ontario). World-class humour is served up alongside a full course meal circa 1850 in the quaint ambiance of the museum village's rural inn with a costumed hostess and 19th-century amusements. Admission: $60 per person
  • Thursday, June 25: Thirsty Thursday, 7 to 10 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery's Inn welcomes visitors to Thirsty Thursday tavern night at the Inn, where they can enjoy a glass of beer, cider, wine, or a Thomas Montgomery specialty in the restored 1847 barroom with Irish stew, fresh baked-bread and live traditional music. Free admission, cash bar, $5 for a bowl of stew while supplies last.
  • Saturday, June 27: Pickering Museum Summer Solstice Supper (See June 20.)
  • To August 2015: Made in Toronto: Food and Drink Manufacturing in Our City: (Toronto). 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
  • To September 13: Delicious? (Goderich, Ontario) Are the favourite foods of our ancestors still our favourites today? Visitors can explore recipes, cookbooks and kitchen items from the Huron County Museum & Archives collection. 519-524-2686
  • Sundays: Gibson House Tea and 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.

Academic Conferences

May 4 to 6, 2015 (Helsinki, Finland)

The University of Helsinki hosts Food in Society: Research across the Humanities and Social Sciences, which aims to develop new analytical approaches to the study of food in the Humanities, Economics, and the Social Sciences with attention to issues of food production, consumption, and food cultures in contemporary society.

May 9 & 10, 2015 (Morrisburg, Ontario)
ALHFAM Central Canada conference at Upper Canada Village.

June 3 to 5, 2015 (Montclair, New Jersey, USA)

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.

June 19 to 23, 2015 (Williamsburg, Virginia, USA)

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.

June 24 to 28, 2015 (Pittsburgh, USA)

Chatham University is hosting the Joint 2015 Annual Meetings and Conference of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) and the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS). Emphasizing a holistic intellectual and material landscape, this year's theme emphasizes the need to plan forward by looking backwards, by imagining and creating spaces where agricultural and culinary practices mesh with opportunities for environmental, social, cultural, and material sustenance.

July 3 to 5, 2015 (Oxford, UK)

The 2015 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery explores all aspects of food production, preparation, presentation and consumption from the earliest times to the latest—from painted prey-animals on the walls of the Lascaux caves to the byways of Wikipedia.

July 8 to 10, 2015 (Leicester, UK)

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.

September 7 to 9, 2015 (Brussels, Belgium)

The interdisciplinary research group Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel presents "Trusting the hand that feeds you. Understanding the historical evolution of trust in food" with keynote sdpeakers Prof. Dr. Alessandro Stanziani of the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Prof. Dr. Martin Bruegel (Unité de recherché 1303 alimentation et sciences sociales) and an introductory speech by Prof. Dr. Peter Scholliers of FOST.

October 17 to 18, 2015 (Guelph, Ontario)

The University of Guelph hosts a conference dedicated to the exploration of artifacts of the agrarian past, which will be explored as a valid historical source that gathers meaning when understood in the context of surviving written records, family history, fashion trends and international commerce.

October 23 to 25, 2015 (Harvard University, Boston, USA)
Deadline for proposals: May 31, 2015

The first biennial conference of the Graduate Association for Food Studies (GAFS).  Food studies has arrived. It is hard to imagine that two decades ago, scholars seriously considered food only in a few disciplines, usually at the margins. As food studies has exploded across disciplines, the field now boasts its own professional associations, journals, and undergraduate and graduate programs at institutions around the world. In addition, the past decade has seen a surge of public interest in food, from food trucks to urban farming to The Hunger Games—even as food security remains unattainable or elusive for billions of people. Food has never been more relevant to academic inquiry.

As food studies has risen to prominence, scholars have emphasized that we can use food as a lens to examine nearly any topic. Yet it is clear that food studies must grapple with many questions, including questions about the field’s own identity. With food studies becoming increasingly institutionalized, how will the discipline continue to evolve? What new subjects, methods, or theories will reshape the study of food in coming years? What areas of food culture and politics urgently need academic attention? And how can the discipline stay relevant when public interest in food inevitably wanes? Emerging scholars at the forefront of the discipline offer exciting answers to these questions.

This conference seeks graduate scholarship that presents original approaches to food studies, whether applying creative theories and methods to established questions or subjects, or interrogating unconsidered topics in novel ways. We welcome papers from the fields of anthropology, history, sociology, cultural studies, gender studies, economics, art, politics, pedagogy, nutrition, the natural sciences, philosophy, and religion, as well as other disciplines and interdisciplinary approaches. We encourage those interested in participating in the conference to submit an abstract for hosting their first biennial conference.

The full call for proposals is available online. Limited travel funds are available for accepted panelists.

November 18 to 22 (Denver, USA)
Deadline for proposals: April 30, 2015
Panel discussion at the American Anthropological Association 2015 Annual Meeting. Anthropologists have long known about the importance of culinary transformations such as those that occur when raw ingredients are made into cooked foods or when the eating of prescribed dishes ushers people through stages in their life course. In contemporary affluent societies, chefs are entrusted with a different transformational potential; they popularize "strange" and "super" foods, defamiliarize commonplace dishes, revitalize neighborhoods, catalyze dietary change, and educate audiences about nutrition, culture, and ecology. Yet chefs and cooks are themselves transformed as they engage in their work—through their interaction with consumers, critics, colleagues, and the media; as a result of economic and resource limitations, and broader trends in consumption and production.

This panel examines the present-day role of chefs—cooks who operate with a significant degree of freedom due to their position in the upper strata of the professional culinary hierarchy—and the culinary transformations in which they participate. We ask: What is different about today's chefs and what do contemporary societies expect from them? How have chefs been transformed by their celebrity? To what extent and in what ways can they initiate change? How do gender, class, ethnicity, and identity politics play a role in chefs' culinary transformations? What roles do government, media, corporations, and NGOs play in these transformations and how are they served by celebrity chefs? We seek papers that explore specific cuisines, chefs, and fieldsites, interrogating the role of contemporary chefs, their ability to transform as well as their own adaptability and willingness to let their envisioned futures and messages be transformed.

To propose a paper, please submit an abstract of 250 words by April 5, 2015 to Greg de St. Maurice, University of Pittsburgh ( or Rachel Black, Collegium de Lyon, (

January 15 & 16, 2016 (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Deadline for proposals: April 30, 2015

Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam hosts the third Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food, on the topic of Fire, Knives and Fridges: The material culture of cooking tools and techniques, inspired by the renewed interest in traditional cooking and preservation techniques, such as baking and fermenting, but also by innovations like sous-vide cooking and molecular gastronomy. Since prehistoric times humans have used tools, such as fire, grindstones, and knives to transform raw ingredients into edible food.

Anthropologists such as Claude Lévi-Strauss and Richard Wrangham have suggested that it is the discovery of cooking which sets humans apart from apes and makes us a “cooking animal”. The symposium aims to explore how cooking techniques, skills and tools as a form of material culture have shaped food cultures and eating habits – and vice versa. For information, contact Dr. J.J. Mammen at

Food for Thought


Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India by Colleen Taylor Sen (Reaktion Books, 2015) 
From dal to samosas, paneer to vindaloo, dosa to naan, Indian food is diverse and wide-ranging—unsurprising when you consider India’s incredible range of climates, languages, religions, tribes, and customs. Its cuisine differs from north to south, yet what is it that makes Indian food recognizably Indian, and how did it get that way? To answer those questions, CHC member Colleen Taylor Sen examines the diet of the Indian subcontinent for thousands of years, describing the country’s cuisine in the context of its religious, moral, social, and philosophical development. Her previous publications include Curry: A Global History (Reaktion, 2009), Turmeric: The Wonder Spice (co-author, 2014) and Street Food Around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (co-editor, 2013).

Ontario Garlic: The Story from Farm to Festival by Peter McClusky (History Press, June 2015)
Garlic has played a crucial role in Ontario's cultural, agricultural, and culinary history. The pungent bulb has gone from reviled foreign vegetable to adored local favourite now celebrated throughout the local food scene and at the annual Toronto Garlic Festival. The narrative begins with the earliest known use of garlic in cooking in Ontario, its history, cultivation, and the role of immigrants in its original relegation and in popularizing the plant. Peter McClusky is the founder and director of the Toronto Garlic Festival. He co-manages the Regent Park Farmers' Market in Toronto and serves on the board of the Aberfoyle Farmers' Market Association.

Food and Urbanism: The Convivial City and a Sustainable Future by Susan Parham (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015)
Cities are home to over 50% of the world's population, a figure which is expected to increase enormously by 2050. Despite the growing demand on urban resources and infrastructure, food is still often overlooked as a key factor in planning and designing cities. Without incorporating food into the design process—how it is grown, transported, and bought, cooked, eaten and disposed of—it is impossible to create truly resilient and convivial urbanism. Moving from the table and home garden to the town, city, and suburbs, Food and Urbanism explores the connections between food and place in past and present design practices. The book also looks to future methods for extending the 'gastronomic' possibilities of urban space. Susan Parham brings together the latest research from a number of disciplines—urban planning, food studies, sociology, geography, and design—with her own fieldwork on a range of foodscapes to highlight the fundamental role food has to play in shaping the urban future.

(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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