Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 114, October 2022
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CHC Facebook friend Alice Mac responded to our August / September cooking challenge with ajvar, or Eastern European pepper caviar.

She writes: "Roast the peppers (I do this on the BBQ to blister the skins), sweat them for a few hours or overnight. Peel the skins and scrape out the seeds. Grind or chops/dice finely (you can do this in a food processor if you like). You can add some hot peppers as you wish. Roast eggplant (I like about 20% eggplant by total weight), strip off the skins, then mash. Roast onions and garlic (about 10% by total weight), clean off skins and mash. Lemon juice and salt to taste. Some folks then cook this down further. If I have watched the water content, I can skip that step. I freeze mine in small jars and use it as a spread on bread, on pasta, in salads, to enrich soups, and anything else that sounds delicious."


  1. CHC News and Upcoming Events

  2. News and Opportunities

  3. Destinations

  4. Food for Thought (book reviews)

  5. Events of Interest

  6. International Conferences

1. CHC News and Upcoming Events


Annual General Meeting Today!

Today is the date of the 2022 CHC AGM. It takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. (ET), and all members in good standing should by now have received an email with Zoom login information and pertinent documents.

If you are a paid-up member who has not yet received this email, please contact as soon as possible.

All 2022 memberships expired yesterday, but there's still time to renew at our current price of $30 per year ($55 for two years). As of January 1, 2023, the rate will rise to $35. To renew, simply visit the membership page on our website.

CHC Still Needs Your Help!

We're incredibly grateful to the generous individuals who have taken us to over $1,000 of our $3,000 fundraising goal through GoFundMe, which we hope to use to keep up with all our new digital expenses as we phase back to in-person programs, Please click here to find out more and contribute to our campaign! Every donation over $30 will receive a one-year membership to CHC that lasts until fall 2023 (or an extension to an existing membership). Thanks!

Save the Date!

Mark your calendars! On Thursday, November 17, esteemed Canadian food writer Naomi Duguid will talk about her brand new book, The Miracle of Salt: Recipes and Techniques to Preserve, Ferment, and Transform Your Food, in which Naomi invites us on a flavour journey that begins with the rich possibilities of the salt larder, from spiced salts and salt-preserved lemons, proceeding to enticing salt-preserved and fermented foods such as salt-cured meats, miso and kimchi, shio koji and salt-cured chiles.

The wide range of recipes that follow invites you to use this umami-rich larder of ingredients to bring new depth of flavour to all kinds of dishes: grilled vegetables, stir-fries, pasta, mains, sweet baking and condiments of all kinds. A Zoom link will be posted soon on our website and in the November newsletter.

French Norman Brandade de Morue made with salt cod, by Sherry Murphy

Speaking about Cod Report

By Carolyn Crawford & Sylvia Lovegren

CHC members met on Wednesday, September 21, to hear Elisabetta Giacon from Rovereto, Italy, speak about cod, cod fishing and where salt cod is and has been prepared around the world. CHC board member Sylvia Lovegren introduced Elisabetta, who is a member of CHOW (Culinary Historians of Washington, D.C.), by telling us that she was involved with the move of Julia Child’s kitchen to the Smithsonian.

Elisabetta, who is quadrilingual, has worked as a translator and language teacher and has intensely studied the subject of cod and its diaspora by travelling to places where certain dishes have traditionally been made, from Italy to Iceland and Newfoundland.

Salt cod (also named bacalao, bacalari, bacalhau, bakailao, or baccala’) can last up to 30 years. It is light, easy to transport and 90% protein. The Vikings and Norsemen took salt cod with them for long voyages and for trading purposes. The result is that salt cod recipes have been developed around the world, from southern Europe, across the northern Atlantic islands, and into the Americas, down the coast to the Caribbean islands and even into South America.

Lutefisk is served in Scandinavian countries, Baccala’ Mantecato and Baccala’ Alla Vicentina with Polenta in Italy, and Nigerian Spicy Fish Soup with Egusi, which uses dried cod heads, are but a few examples. In Canada, many different dishes are prepared using cod or salt cod. Newfoundland has Fried Cod and Scrunchies and Cod and Brewis, and cod tongues are an Atlantic Canadian favourite.

A very lively question-and-answer period followed, with numerous audience members relating their varied cod traditions from Iceland, Italy, Sweden and Jamaica. Elisabetta brought dried cod "snacks" from Iceland to share (very aromatic!). CHC board member Sherry Murphy prepared the French Norman dish Brandade de Morue with salt cod for us to sample on bread during our refreshments following Elisabetta’s talk.

Special thanks to Sherry Murphy for arranging housing for Elisabetta and to Sherry Murphy and Carolyn Crawford for giving her a tour of some of Toronto’s culinary highlights. Elisabetta welcomes those who wish to know more about culinary cod history and cod recipes to email her at

Just A Bite Report #7: Family Barbecues

By Sherry Murphy

Just a Bite: Summer Food Memories from Ontario Seniors was a questionnaire widely distributed during summer 2021 among seniors' cultural groups, associations, clubs and service organizations. CHC asked questions that invited the sharing of youthful memories. This column is the seventh in a series to summarize the memories contained in the 68 booklets returned.

We asked: Did your family like to barbecue during the summer? Who did the barbecuing? Was it a family specialty? There were quite a few responses to the art of barbecuing, including a few who never had the opportunity (or even a barbecue), as some were too busy with work on the farm to enjoy a family barbecue.

I will start with Eleanor Aldus of Peterborough, who says she had no idea what a barbecue was until one day on a road trip her dad stopped at a store where hotdogs were cooking on a metal square with a grate on top, "so my dad got us all a hotdog each. So, I thought what a great idea for a family picnic. But our farm had such an abundance of food that we hardly ever had family picnics."

Melodie Atanowski of Courtice says her dad used charcoal bricks with soaring flames so high that "we had to wait a long time before we could have our burgers and hotdogs." Gaetano Tom Burgio from Virgil says that "in Italy we had a little wood-fired barbecue; my father would barbecue lamb chops and goat chops. Beef was rare. We did have veal cutlets at Christmas. Also, my dad had something similar to a hibachi where he did homemade sausage over the coals." Shula Carmichael of Meaford said her father did the barbecuing.

Lynn Clelland of Renfrew writes, "Yes, barbecue was a Sunday picnic thing. Uncle always did the BBQs." Annunziata Corsetti of Toronto reports that "family get-together was usually all summer long as there was always some sort of preserving or canning project of fruits and vegetables going on every weekend; after the work there was a barbecue." Her son Don did all the cooking and barbecuing, mostly chicken, burgers, steaks and homemade sausages along with roasted sweet peppers; those that did not get pickled. Once he rented a barbecue to roast a whole pig, and "we had to take turns turning the crank on the spit to roast it completely; that took a long time, but it was work fun day."

Pat Crocker of Neustadt said she had a charcoal BBQ, and her father would light it an hour before and grill hamburgers: "Although it took a long while for the coals to get hot, for my dad it was a big deal, and he loved it." Holly Diaczuk of Thunder Bay writes "We had no BBQ, but dad made a smoker out of an old fridge, and he smoked those dreadful smelts and lake trout. This I thought was terrific! (Using what he had to make a smoker for food)."

Diana Dundas of Bradford said, "All members of the family enjoy barbecuing during the summer. It is usually the domain of all the males in the family, who say they love to barbecue." David George of Whitby says, "we did barbecue all the time, mostly done by David." Rosemary George also says her dad did most of the barbecuing but can’t remember any specialty. Susan Hitchcock of Sydenham writes that "our family would only barbecue hamburgers and hotdogs at the cottage. My dad made a homemade charcoal barbecue, and on windy days he fought that barbecue but never gave up. We may have eaten at midnight, but he would not give in."

Noreen Mallory of Toronto reports, "Yes, Dad liked cooking that way, and he did it well. Mom did the cooking, but when it came time to barbecue, he was perfect. Also, mostly the BBQ was on the veranda, and so he would pass the cooked meat through the kitchen window!" Debra McAusian of Clinton writes, "when we barbecued, it was generally my dad who did the meat. Of course, after my mom did all the prep work and planned and prepared the rest of the meal."

Ted Meyer of Waterdown said, "Not as a kid, but when I had my own family, we did a lot of barbecues (steaks, ribs and chickens, burgers and hotdogs)." Peggy Parent of South River says, "Dad built a keyhole fire pit and used one end to rake the coals into the BBQ. barbecuing was not such a big thing when I was a child." Barbara Rank of Cheltenham says, "Sometimes, and a favourite of mine is onions and potatoes with butter wrapped in foil."

Carmela Sannuto of Toronto reports, "Yes, we would BBQ in the summer months, My mom and dad would be doing the BBQ, Yes, it was our family specialty." Brenda Stanbury of Utterson: "My dad was the King of the BBQ. We always had hotdogs and hamburgers, chicken legs and sausages." Jean Steritt of Georgetown writes, "Yes, Mom did it. Usually the specialty was hotdogs and burgers."

Royal Winter Fair Competitions

The 100th Anniversary of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair takes place from November 4 to 13 at Toronto's Exhibition Place in Toronto, with its first in-person event since 2019. As always, CHC is sponsoring the Heritage Jam and Pickles categories at the Royal Food Competitions.

The deadline to enter the competitions was the last day of September. Winners will be announced in late October. More information is available on the RAWF website.

Greeting card ca. 1910 by Raphael Tuck and Sons (publisher) from Toronto Reference Library. Arts department, Object #ARTS-PC-161. Public Domain.

October Cooking Challenge: For the Birds

As we move into the cooler months, our thoughts turn to warming savoury dishes simmering on the stove. For the October challenge, we're looking for any "fowl" dish to counteract the "foul" weather. Chicken, turkey, duck, goose, game birds ... your choice! 

You might enjoy having a look at 
Canadian Cookbooks Online on our website for inspiration. There you'll find links to scores of Canadian cookbooks of the past. If you post pictures and comments with the hashtag #birds to our Facebook page before midnight on Friday, October 21, we’ll feature at least one of your entries in our November newsletter.

Photo hints: To get the best results with your photos on Facebook and in this newsletter, follow these tips:
  • Make sure your image is big (at least 1MB in file size, or at least 1,000 pixels wide).
  • Make your image wide rather than tall. If you're taking a picture of something round, like a cake, include lots of blank space on either side of it.
  • Keep the camera still; balance it on a chair back or a stack of books if necessary.
  • Use as much light as possible. Outdoor light is great, especially on a cloudy day when there are no sharp shadows. Unless your room is very well lit, place the food near a window, turn on all your lights and even point extra light sources (ring lights, flashlights) at it from a few different angles.
  • Put your food on a tea towel, a wooden counter or a similar neutral background rather than the stovetop.
  • Decorations are nice, like a flower in a vase, a charming salt and pepper set, an antique spoon or a decorative plate. But don't go overboard: remember, it's the food we want to see!

August/September Cooking Challenge: Peppers

In August and September, we asked you to bring the heat by cooking with any type of peppers. We're impressed that many of you grew your own, like Beverly Kouhi Soloway (picture above), who writes, "I turned my garden-grown banana peppers into Pickled Peppers ... Even a couple of pots of food-plants can yield deliciousness and the opportunity for canning."

Alice Mac: "Fermented Pepper Sauce: Start with a good mix of ripe peppers. Take the stems off and chop roughly. Blend to puree with just enough water. Weigh and add 3% plain salt by weight. Ferment on the counter for a month or more. This is the same as what I would do for sauerkraut. Filter out the "sauce" and keep the paste. Both are good for different culinary purposes. I add dried tomato powder to the sauce to thicken to a nice pouring consistency."

Lyle Beaugard: "When you find beautiful local banana peppers at $1.49 a pound, it's time to get pickling!"

Robbie Wayne (above): "Spicy Italian sausage meatball, smoked red pepper, roasted tomato pasta" and (below) "Jimmy's smoked pork hock with homemade pierogi, courtesy of Sean Patrick McLellan—braised with sauerkraut, onions, peppers and chorizo." Robbie also made spaghetti with feta, olives, onions, tomatoes and, of course, peppers.

Finally, Miki Uhlyarik writes, "Cooking for the grandkids, you makes amends: you devein, yeah?"
Join the Culinary Historians of Canada!

The membership year runs from one annual general meeting (usually late September/early October) to the next. Download a membership form here and join us today! 

2. News and Opportunities

Taste Canada Ticket Sales Launch
Tickets are now on sale for the 25th anniversary Taste Canada Awards Gala, which will be held at The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto on Monday, November 7. The event will be hosted by Mériane Labrie, a.k.a. Madame Labriski, and Steven Hellmann of The Foodies Group, and attendees will find out who takes home the Gold and Silver awards in each English- and French-language book category. The winners of the 2022 Cooks the Books presented by Canada Beef and of course the Taste Canada Hall of Fame presented by CHC will also be revealed!
Food Film Feast!
The 4th annual Toronto Food Film Fest (TFFF) takes place from October 14 to 17. It pairs screenings of food-related international films with "curated snacks" from intriguing local suppliers. It also features special events like a demo with acclaimed cake designer April Julian from the popular Netflix show Is it Cake?, a foraging and mushroom workshop with activist Joshna Maharaj and Dyson Forbes from Forbes Wild Foods, and beer, wine and sake tastings. Admission: $20 (single seats, including curated snacks), $150 (“All You Can Watch” pass) or $250 (VIP passes).
What’s Cooking? (Member News)
CHC MEMBERS: Please let us know what you're up to! We'll publish all suitable news items received at by the 25th of each month. (Please write your announcement directly into your email window, with no attachments except a photo. Be sure to include a web link for further information!)

CHC members Mya Sangster and Sherry Murphy took part in the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of historic Campbell House Museum in Toronto by baking A Plumb Cake from The Lady’s Assistant by Charlotte Mason (1773). It was iced by CHC member Monika Paradis. Mya and Sherry also produced a table of desserts fit for a king .

CHC board members Sherry Murphy and Carolyn Crawford hosted our recent guest speaker, Elisabetta Giacon from Rovereto, Italy. While in Toronto, Elisabetta wanted to see the famous St. Lawrence Market. They first enjoyed brunch at Paddington’s Pump, where she delighted in trying Peameal Eggs Benedict. She enjoyed seeing all the many Market vendors and was particularly interested in the seafood stalls.

3. Destinations: Iron Bridge Historical Museum

Text & images by Jane Black

On the banks of the Mississagi River, 800 people populate the town of Iron Bridge, named for the bridge built there in 1884. The Iron Bridge Historical Museum is right off the Trans-Canada Highway about 120 km southeast of Sault Ste. Marie. The site consists of the log-built Tulloch/Carlyle house, a shed, and a small building with public washrooms. A covered pavilion with picnic tables makes for a lovely stop in both hot and inclement weather when travelling along this stretch of the highway.

The cabin, originally built by John and Sandy McDougall in 1879, was moved to the museum site in 1974. It contains local artifacts, including Tulloch’s Taxi’s ambulance bed, wedding gowns, military uniforms, Blind River High School memorabilia and many items from the Inkster family farm.

The Tulloch/Carlyle home features local artifacts up to WWII. One of the most interesting culinary pieces is a two-by-three-foot A.H. Reid butter worker from Philadelphia. Reid filed the original patent for this butter worker in 1875, followed by a second patent in 1883, which incorporated a motor. While it is now located in the recreated kitchen, it was most likely not kept there originally, as the heat from the stove would have turned the milk. The steps of butter-making from start to finish included skimming the cream, churning, draining, rinsing, working and shaping.

During the working stage, buttermilk was removed from the butter. The addition of salt, if wanted, was also part of this stage. Handling up to 50 pounds of butter, this butter worker, the No. 4, completed the job in two to three minutes according to the Sears catalogue that advertised it. In actual practice, the time could vary depending on the amount of pressure and speed a person could apply to the roller: the activity could be very strenuous. By comparison, the other models were designed for 10, 20, and 30 pounds. The other butter workers designed for 75, 112, and 150 pounds were intended for use in creameries.

Another item of interest is the two-pot haybox. The hay cooker, sometimes also called a fireless cooker, is an early ancestor to the modern-day Crock-Pot. Hot food was put in the cooker in the morning, and then left to cook until supper time. A good hay cooker, such as the one on display, can hold its heat up to 8 hours. While similar to methods of cooking found across the globe, the European origins are traced back to Scandinavia in the 1800s. A version using wool was presented at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1867 as a “Norwegian automatic cooker,” with Germans adapting the design to use hay.

The United States army researched the use of hay cookers at the turn of the 20th century when civilian interest in hay cookers sprang up in North America. A recipe book from 1913, The Fireless Cookbook by Margaret Mitchell, is available at Project Gutenberg. It contains a wide range of recipes including Peptonized Milk, Stuffed Cow Heart, Puddings and Jellies. Used to some extent during WWI and WWII in countries where cooking fuel was rationed, most recently, hay cookers have found a recent resurgence amongst "preppers" (emergency survivalists).

Run by the Municipality of Huron Shores, Iron Bridge Museum has the mission to preserve local history. The museum is open by donation seven days a week from June to September, when summer students are available.

4. Food for Thought

Have you missed a book review? You can read reviews from all our past issues online. If you are a CHC member who would like to contribute, please contact Sarah Hood at

Canada’s Food Island: A Collection of Stories and Recipes from Prince Edward Island by Stuart Hickox with photography by Stephen Harris (Figure 1, 2022). Reviewed by Ania Young (pictured above).

They say we eat with our eyes first. If that’s true, be very careful when opening this book by the farmers and fishers of Prince Edward Island, filled with mouth-watering recipes and insightful stories from PEI. Before you read a single word, you’ll be captivated by Stephen Harris’ stunning photography. The quality and creativity of the images bring the recipes to life and transports you into a world where you swear you can smell the ocean and taste the lobster rolls. 

The book is organized into four sections, each correlating to a season—spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each season features recipes made from signature ingredients available in PEI at that time. While seafood is heavily featured throughout (rightfully so), there truly is something for everyone within this book. Classics such as the Seafood Boil and Oysters Rockefeller are featured alongside the creative—Cranberry Jalapeño Salsa, Oyster Bacon and Wild Mushroom Stuffing, and my personal favourite—a Potato Charcuterie Board. 

Scattered throughout the book are “tips and tricks,” a unique and outstanding feature providing instructions on how to cook a lobster, shuck a quahaug (a clam native to the Atlantic), and work with different cuts of beef. These pages make complex recipes feel accessible and attainable. Complementing the recipes and the tips and tricks are engaging write-ups about Prince Edward Island culture, history and environment. We learn about the relationships the farmers have to the land, the fishermen to the sea, and the people to one another. 

The book is so beautifully bright and inviting that it’s tough to decide whether it belongs on your coffee table or in your kitchen. Luckily, one doesn’t have to choose. All royalties from the sale of the book go to PEI food banks to help support their mission to increase food security for Islanders. With such an important cause to support, I highly recommend buying two.

Don’t Worry, Just Cook by Bonnie Stern & Anna Rupert (Appetite by Penguin Random House, 2022). Reviewed by Dana Moran.

Torontonian food legend Bonnie Stern authors her new book Don't Worry, Just Cook with her daughter, Anna Rupert (Anna Banana to the familiar). The endearing sentiment of the book reflects the warmth of the Stern family approach and Toronto’s reputation as one of the world’s most international cities.

Dedicated "to everyone we call family, who helps us with our worries and helps us not to worry,” the words "Food is a way to bring people together” are superimposed on a smiling Anna offering the reader a plate. The book includes dishes from many places, all with the common theme of comfort eating. From latkes to peanut sauce, this book has a dish to calm anyone's nerves. 

All the recipes come with Stern's helpful instructional clarity, perfected over a lengthy career. When a substitution is offered, you can tell that it's been tried at home in a pinch; these comfort dishes are designed to satisfy cravings.

The book includes sections on appetizers to mains to desserts and even drinks. It also offers the pair's advice on utensils and products in the pantry section. If their family's life has a playlist, these recipes are the greatest hits. 

For this review, I tried the recipes for Dan Dan noodles, reportedly first tried at the Wei Chuan Cooking School, and rice pudding, to which Bonnie Stern credits the launch of her career.

Dan Dan noodles will soon become a regular dish in my home. They're peanutty, with a cut of spice and acid. The bacon and pork add a soothing amount of fat, which is balanced by fresh coriander, carrots and quickly pickled cucumbers. The recipe is detailed enough for a cautious cook and yet flexible enough to suggest spaghetti noodles as a substitute for egg noodles. The message comes through: be relaxed in the kitchen and comfort yourself and your guests with cooking and eating.

When I read the preamble to rice pudding—which informs us that Bonnie Stern's career began when CKFM had so many requests for her recipe that they had to change their policy of mailing them to listeners for free—I could hardly wait to try it. The result was a wonderfully creamy but not overly sweet dream. For those guests who like sugar, there is an accompanying caramel with bananas, after her daughter's namesake. (Again, the message is reassuring, as Stern admits that sometimes her pudding boils over.)

By inviting us to their table, to indulge in favourite dishes, Bonnie and Anna welcome us to become part of their family. For all of us who have been impressed by Stern, this book is essential. 

L’érable et la perdrix: l’histoire Culinaire du Québec à travers ses aliments by Elisabeth Cardin & Michel Lambert (Les Editions Cardinal, 2021). Reviewed by Frances Latham (pictured above).

Author Elisabeth Cardin describes this volume as “ce beau gros livre-là” and it is indeed a beautiful, big book. Through carefully chosen words, recipes and photography, the authors take us on a stunning tour through Quebec history by way of culinary traditions, the category that the book has been shortlisted for in this year’s French-language Taste Canada awards. 

We start with an explanation of the founding nations of Quebec and their foods: game, fish and local plants for Indigenous peoples, including Inuit, until the Vikings introduced domestic beef and sheep (and their dairy products) along with grain from Scandinavia. Preserving through drying, freezing and fermenting was widespread, though much was eaten raw when preserving was not possible. Seasonality predominated, as well as ingenuity in working with the land and water.

The arrival of the French in 1600 (and subsequently displaced Acadians) heralded the beginning of a profound change in culinary habits, with the introduction of vegetables, herbs, more grains and fruit. Sugar and alcohol, along with new cooking methods such as the use of bread and cake tins, and all-in-one dishes such as casseroles, became part of the local cuisine. After 1760, the English introduced exotic elements from their colonial exploits: ketchup, peppers and tomatoes. 

The 20 food-related chapters are ordered according to importance and flavour profile. From "Érable" (maple) to "Caribou," whimsical poetry, copies of emails and tidbits of conversation often start a chapter; carefully researched text on the historical importance and the food itself follows. All the way, we learn that the perdrix, which we understand as partridge in English, is not that at all in Quebec cookery; the term refers to three different game birds, as first described by Champlain. 

Montreal star chef Simon Mathys’ recipes are simply organized and easy to read. Some are more challenging—for example, the recipe for seal—but might be something for a very special occasion. Each showcases modern Quebec cuisine, respecting familial traditions and an understanding that the cuisine will continue to evolve with immigration and climate change but must have sustainability at its heart.

This big book is not a cookbook, but shares recipes. It is not a coffee-table book, yet is as beautiful as any I have seen and could be treasured solely for the photography and artistry in design. It is more than a history book, yet it presents carefully researched information and well-documented references. It has a big Quebec flavour that comes through in each page and in the glossary of French culinary terms. The back cover suggests reading slowly and gently while allowing oneself to be rocked and cradled in the large spaces of the province. I couldn’t agree more.

We Are What We Eat: A Slow Food Manifesto by Alice Waters with Bob Carrau & Cristina Mueller (Penguin Random House, 2022). Reviewed by Ivy Lerner-Frank (pictured above).

Alice Waters has been saying the same thing for a long time and really wants people to listen—now. The chef and owner of Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse has put together an indictment of fast-food culture and a paean to slow-food culture, with a hopeful endnote on the way forward. Each chapter starts with a summary paragraph providing her perspective on the issue at hand, with analysis, examples and reminiscences filling out these individual themes. 

Waters eschews fast-food culture and all it represents. She and her co-authors break down each element meticulously: convenience, uniformity, availability, trust in advertising, cheapness, more is better, and speed. While acknowledging the importance of convenience, especially during COVID lockdowns, she derides food-delivery apps, saying “What are we doing with the extra time that’s created when things are so convenient? What are we making room for?”

In the chapters on slow-food culture, Waters expounds on the values she holds dear: beauty, biodiversity, seasonality, stewardship, pleasure in work, simplicity and interconnectedness. She references the work that she’s doing through the Edible Schoolyard project at a local Berkeley middle school, and the travels that she’s undertaken to understand food systems that could turn agribusiness on its head. 

“I never wanted any part of the running of the restaurant to be concealed or unattractive,” she says in the chapter on pleasure in work. “At Chez Panisse, there is no real back of house.” Despite the dozen or so cookbooks that have been written about the restaurant’s food, Waters maintains that dishes were created verbally, never written down to be followed to formula. She talks about not knowing what she would cook on any given day until she’d seen the produce on the counters: only then does she move forward to create. 

What struck me most about this book is how the formative experience of studying, working and living in France affected Waters’ world view and her life’s work. The pace of life, the importance of community and collaboration all impressed her deeply and remain pillars of her approach. 

For skeptics who may wonder how modern life might possibly be lived according to Waters’ principles, she is clear: “This is not regressing to some sort of idealized past,” she exhorts us. “It is about connecting to and supporting those who take care of our precious land in order to bring universal human values—through food—forward into our ever-evolving future.” 

This is a simple, well-laid out, thoughtful read that fans of Waters—and perhaps some who don’t agree—will find valuable reading.

Review Contributors
  • Ivy Lerner-Frank (CHC book review editor, Montreal)
  • Julia Armstrong (Toronto)
  • Luisa Giacometti (Toronto)
  • Gary Gillman (Toronto)
  • Sher Hackwell (Vancouver)
  • Sarah Hood (Toronto)
  • Frances Latham (Montreal)
  • Maya Love (London, Ontario)
  • Fiona Lucas (Toronto)
  • Jan Main (Toronto)
  • Bennett McCardle (Toronto)
  • Elka Weinstein (Toronto)
  • Ania Young (Nanoose Bay, B.C.)

5. Events of Interest

  • Saturday, October 1, 10 a.m. CT: Fool’s Gold: A History of British Saffron (virtual). Culinary Historians of Chicago host a virtual event from the UK featuring Samantha Bilton, who offered a presentation on another of her books, First Catch Your Gingerbread, to CHC. Admission: Free. Email: to obtain the Zoom link.
  • Thursday, October 6, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. GMT (1:30 to 3:30 ET): A Cuisine of its Own: Culinary Colonialism in Canada (virtual). L. Sasha Gora of the Rachel Carson Center at LMU Munich asks "What is Canadian cuisine and how does it differ from Indigenous fare?" The first event in the Food History Seminar presented by the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London's School of Advanced Study as an inclusive setting in which food historians, academics and experts working in related fields can come together to discuss their research. Admission: Free. Preregistration is required. For further information, contact
  • Thursday, October 6, 5 p.m. ET: The Witch’s Feast: A Kitchen Grimoire (virtual). The Battery Park City Library hosts a presentation by Melissa Jayne Madara, who will talk about her decadent collection of enchanting dishes—an indispensable companion to kitchen witchcraft—revealing the storied history and seductive art of magical cooking. Admission: Free. Email: to obtain the Zoom link.
  • Wednesdays, November 16 to December 7, 7 to 9 p.m. GMT (3 to 6 p.m. ET): The History of Christmas Customs, Feasting & Food. From Medieval to Wartime (virtual). Food historians Sarah Tobias and Paul Couchman ("The Regency Cook") offer a four-week course exploring Christmas customs, traditions, myths, legends and fabulous food. Recipes will be available. Admission: £35 to £45.

6. International Conferences

Compiled by Kesia Kvill


October 23 to 24 (New York, USA)
Theme: Imagining the Edible: Food, Creativity, and the Arts
Host: Marymount Manhattan College, New York
Call for presentations is open.


September 5 to 8 (Ekaterinburg, Russia) To be confirmed
Theme: Food and Memory in European History of the 19th–21st Centuries

May 2023, TBD 
Will be held end of May, further details TBD
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. 
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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