Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 113, September 2022
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CHC member Stephanie Thomas writes: "I usually put surplus jalapeño peppers in the freezer. This month I made pickled peppers."


  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

Classic Canadian cuisine: butter tarts and Nanaimo bars. Photo by Julia Armstrong.

CHC Needs Your Help!

CHC was founded in 1994 to inspire appreciation of Canada's food history. Today, our website receives about 20,000 visits per month from people interested in historic cookbooks, food-related talks and cooking classes. Our Facebook page is an active community of almost 5,000 people who share recipes and food memories. Through this newsletter, you know how many events and research projects we're engaged in, all organized by fewer than two dozen volunteers.

When COVID hit, we began to incur expenses for digital tools like Zoom, and without in-person events, we lost an important source of revenue and new members. We want to keep offering digital content to the whole world, but to keep up with all our expenses as we phase back to in-person programs, we hope to raise a one-time amount of $3,000 through GoFundMe to help with our operating costs.

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!

September Event: A Fishy History

On Wednesday, September 21, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. (EDT), CHC is delighted to present Speaking Cod: A History of Cod Fishing & Cod Eating from the Vikings to Now, an in-person presentation by eminent visiting culinary historian Elisabetta Giacon of the Culinary Historians of Washington, D.C. It will take place in the event room at 757 Victoria Park Avenue (at Danforth) in Toronto.

How could one humble fish change the history of the world? From the Norse Viking era when Europeans first learned about the huge codfish stocks in North American waters, to the times of the south Italian Normans (1000 C.E.), to the first collection of Italian recipes, to a time when the wealthy and the less wealthy embraced the consumption of cod, researcher Elisabetta Giacon looks at the history of cod and the ancient "cod people" who continue to have an impact on international cuisine.

She explains how cod cuisine has moved and adapted to various diverse cultures with new and traditional ingredients, in time entrenching a regional way of preparing either dried, salted, frozen or fresh cod. Cod history is one still in the making, in Elisabetta's view, and her trip to Canada is part of her ongoing research into the history of cod, cod fishing, "cod people" and the cod recipes.

Admission is by donation (suggested price: $8–$15). Tickets are available on Eventbrite. Participants will be required to wear masks.


Annual General Meeting Reminder

The 2022 CHC AGM falls on Saturday, October 1, 2022 from 2 to 4 p.m. (ET). All members in good standing will receive an email with Zoom login information one week before the meeting. All pertinent documents will be posted on the CHC website.

We are pleased to announce that the speaker for this year’s AGM will be Ellen Moorhouse, talking about her new book We Are What We Ate: Recipes & Memories From Childhood, The book—which features CHC member Sherry Murphy on the cover—is a collection of recipes and stories from older Canadians about their favourite childhood foods and is wonderfully illustrated with family photos and recipes. Ellen is a CHC member, was for many years an editor at the Toronto Star, and is a founding member of Back Lane Studios in Roncesvalles in Toronto.

Please join us!

We are looking to expand the CHC board. Will you join us? We are actively seeking new board members, and hoping to fill the positions of president, vice-president, secretary, co-chair of communications, volunteer coordinator and publicity coordinator.

If you think you could commit about three or four hours per month and might like to help organize events, manage our social media accounts, bake historic refreshments or handle administrative details, please consider joining us. We also welcome volunteers from any part of the country to offer even a few hours a year to one of our committees (Membership, Programming, Communications, Education, Publicity, Volunteers and Refreshments). Find out more at

Time to join or renew

All 2022 memberships expire on the day before the AGM; only members in good standing may stand for board membership, elect board members and vote on official matters that may arise. Those who renew before January 1 will be charged our current price of $30 per year ($55 for two years). As of 2023, the rate will rise to $35. 

Current and recent members have just received a reminder notice that confirms their membership status. Those who need to renew can simply visit the membership page on our website. If you are not certain whether your membership is still up to date, check in with our membership chair, Judy, at

Marilyn King made 130 jars of raspberry, strawberry, and peach jam as favours for her son Adam’s wedding in 2016.

Just A Bite Report #6: Family Road Trips

By Fiona Lucas

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 sixth in a series to summarize the memories contained in the 68 booklets returned.

We asked: "Do you have family memories of road trips, such as to Niagara or the Holland Marsh, to get fresh produce or to pick your own sweet strawberries or apples?" Barbara Rank’s family had outings to both: "I remember going to Niagara + Holland Marsh for fresh fruit + vegetables." Melodie Atanowski of Courtice wrote that "We made an annual trip to the Niagara fruit belt to get bushels of peaches." Many respondents reminisced about these happy trips.

Ontario has several regions that supply the province with stone fruit, berries, and vegetables. Of the sixteen destinations named, Niagara was mentioned most. As Tom Gaetano Burgio said of his hometown: "It’s a beautiful place. We grow so many fruits and vegetables here, in our own yards or in the farms around us."

"Local organizations organized truckloads of peaches from Niagara—these were frozen for winter desserts," commented Lynn Clelland of Renfrew. Eleanor Aldus of Peterborough wrote: "Niagara fruit, including peaches, plums and cherries, were purchased at local stores in large baskets, freshly picked ripe, and shipped. The party line phone would buzz with the news that the fruit had arrived, and the rush to buy, eat, preserve and freeze began."

"We bought peaches, apples, pears, plums every Wednesday at the Brampton Livestock Exchange where Niagara growers brought their produce," said Barbara Cook. Ruth Josephs of Elmira: "Peaches came from our uncle’s farm/ orchard at Vineland [Niagara]. As we reached a certain age, each of us—only one per year—accompanied Dad on this awesome trip. The back seat of the car was removed to accommodate bushels of peaches, some for other families."

Strawberries were the most popular pick-your-own fruit. Susan Hitchcock remembered "thinking I was going to die of heat stroke picking strawberries at the local pick-your-own." For harvesting corn, "the best place was on the south side of Burnhamthorpe Road [in Mississauga]," said Ted Meyer. Several seniors lamented the loss of these farms. Rensje Aalbers of Roslyn wrote, "There’s one pick-your-own farm left. They start with strawberries, then raspberries, peas, beans, Saskatoons, sweet corn, squash." Brenda Standbury of Utterson said, "My children loved it, as do my grandchildren now," then added, "Sadly as the years went by, more and more farms disappeared to make way for housing, and we had to travel further away for pick-your-own farms."

The abundance of wild fruit—blueberries, strawberries, crabapples, highbush cranberries, raspberries—from places like Rankin and Petawawa also elicited memories. "Once a year a carload of neighbours and children would head west on old Highway 15 to the Kaladar area and the Precambrian rock country to pick wild blueberries. Children were well warned not to wander far away, as there were bears in the area eating the berries. The car would return with pails of berries and blue-faced kids." Some families preserved vast quantities of that summer bounty for the cold seasons. Eleanor McLaughlin’s mother did: "about 70 quarts of [wild] raspberries each year." Also, her "Raspberry Vinegar was so tasty!"

For Roberta Anne Walker, now of Peterborough, family outings included crossing into Quebec for "summer trips to Île d'Orléans outside Montreal in the 1970s–'80s. You drove around the island and bought the fresh fruit in season from local orchards: strawberries, cherries, peaches, apples; local cheeses, fresh-baked bread, with local wine = a feast with a view!"

Some respondents provided recipes. Here’s one for pickled peaches from Mary Williamson’s mother:

Pickled Peaches (or Pears)
  • ½ peck peaches
  • 2 lbs. brown sugar
  • 1 pint vinegar
  • 1 oz stick cinnamon
  • cloves
Boil sugar, vinegar, and cinnamon 20 min. Dip peaches quickly in hot water, then rub off fur with towel. Stick each peach with 4 cloves. Put into syrup and cook until soft, not too many at once.

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.

Entries in the Heritage categories must be based on recipes dating from 1967 or earlier but must adhere to modern health and safety standards. Deadlines, regulations and details on how to enter this year’s edition, including competition books, are available on the RAWF website.

September Cooking Challenge: Peppers Again!

Since few entries were posted before the early deadline for the August cooking challenge, we're extending it. Bring on your salsas, pickles and other peppery treats!

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 #peppers to our Facebook page before midnight on Friday, September 23, we’ll feature at least one of your entries in our August 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!
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

Save the Date!
The 25th anniversary Taste Canada Awards Gala will be held on Monday, November 7. 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!

Janice Longone, 1933–2022
We are sorry to report that esteemed culinary historian Jan Longone, founder of the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor, passed away this year.

Jan, as she was known to friends, was the principal donor and driving force behind the formation of the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the University of Michigan, a rich culinary collection encompassing cookbooks, household guides, ephemera, menus and a wealth of other documents. It was the culmination of the lifelong interest in culinary history that she shared with her husband, chemistry professor emeritus Dan Longone.

For many years, Jan ran a mail-order bookshop, The Wine and Food Library, where she numbered Julia Child among her customers. She hosted a radio show on culinary history, Adventures in Gastronomy, in the 1970s. She had a particular interest in charity or community cookbooks, a topic about which she lectured and curated exhibits. One of her proudest accomplishments was surfacing A Domestic Cook Book by Malinda Russell, the only known copy of the earliest known cookbook authored by an African American woman, published in Paw Paw, Michigan, in 1866.

Help Organize the CAFS 2023 Pre-Conference
The Canadian Association for Food Studies (CAFS) is looking for people who might be interested in joining the Pre-Conference Committee of the 2023 CAFS Conference, to be held in conjunction with Congress at York University (Toronto) in late May 2023. The committee's responsibilities include:
  • surveying the emerging-scholar community to identify Pre-Conference needs and themes
  • overall planning of the Pre-Conference, including programming, lunch, space and equipment
  • communications
  • co-ordinating with CAFS 2023 co-chairs David Szanto and Michelle Ryan
The Pre-Conference is a one-day event for students and emerging scholars within food studies. It generally takes place the day before the full conference. In the past, sessions have included speakers and panel discussions on career advancement, research and publishing, navigating funding applications, networking and other relevant topics.

The committee would ideally consist of an undergrad student, two grad students and a York faculty member who would serve as an administrative facilitator. All of these roles would be remunerated with a one-year CAFS membership and waived fees for the next article they publish with Canadian Food Studies. In addition, the students will receive a $250 stipend. For more information, contact

Search for Dutch Manuscript Cookbooks
Culinary Historians of New York member Peter Rose, author of History on a Plate and other books, is interested in connecting with descendants of Dutch settlers of New Netherland whose families own handwritten cookbooks. She has uncovered 39 such books in various archives in the former colony, which was comprised of New York, New Jersey, Delaware and parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Anyone who knows of such a book/books can contact her directly at

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 board member Jennifer Meyer has published an article in the summer 2022 issue of Repast, the newsletter of the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor. In an issue dedicated to "Fruits of the World," she wrote about her family's relationship with the tropical fruit calamansi, which was featured on the cover (as pictured above). Congratulations, Jennifer!

On Thursday, September 22, at 6 p.m., historic Campbell House in Toronto is celebrating its 200th birthday as well as 50 years at its current location with a special event. Among the speakers will be CHC founder and life member Liz Driver. CHC vice-president Sherry Murphy and life member Mya Sangster will be animating the historic kitchen and demonstrating tasty recipes of the past.

3. Destinations

Jane Black's Destinations feature will return.

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

Je suis pas cheffe, pis toi non plus by Geneviève Pettersen (Saint-Jean éditeur, 2021); K pour Katrine: Le livre de recettes by Katrine Paradis & Margaux Verdier (KO Éditions, 2021); Les filles Fattoush: La cuisine syrienne, une cuisine de coeur by Adelle Tarzibachi (KO Éditions, 2021). Reviewed by Ivy Lerner-Frank (pictured above).

This trio of Québecois cookbooks shortlisted for the French-language Taste Canada awards reflects a range of voices and culinary interests: the intentionally outrageous voice of journalist Pettersen, the intergenerational “lifestyle” voices of local TV personalities Paradis and Verdier, and the culinary wisdom of the Filles Fattoush, as penned by the Québecoise-Syrian women’s collective founder Tarzibachi. 

Nominated in the General Cookbooks category, Je suis pas cheffe, pis toi non plus (which loosely translates as “I’m no chef and you’re not, either”) is a tough-love guide for those intimidated in the kitchen. The muted colour palette of the book is at odds with the extremely busy—and at times hard-to-decipher—graphic design, but it’s a good match for Pettersen’s barbed comments, juxtaposed with her encouraging words for cooking neophytes. Pettersen peppers recipes with zingers: digs at one particular former mother-in-law, sly references to political correctness (“Pseudo-Iranian cultural appropriation rice”), and porn. "We devour cookbooks like we do porn… but everybody knows that’s not what happens in real life, or in a real kitchen," she says in her introduction.

Pettersen’s voice is provocative and unsentimental, making her nod to the traditional recipes from her home region of Saguenay surprising. They are good, though: Tourtière du Lac, with chicken, pheasant or rabbit; Ragout de boulettes, a traditional pork meatball stew; Pot-en-pot des îles, a seafood pot pie, and the classic Tarte aux sucres (sugar pie) are some of the best in the volume. 

K pour Katrine, also nominated in the General Cookbooks category, provides a decidedly more genteel worldview: a gauzy compendium of gluten- and dairy-free recipes from lifestyle chef Paradis and her daughter, Margaux Verdier. Now the stars of their own cooking show and website, the pair were inspired by Verdier’s food allergies and intolerances to bring together a suitable range of vegan and meat dishes.

The book’s layout is easy to work from, with nicely styled photos on the right side of the page and recipes on the left. The market-driven recipes are generally light: one-bowl meals and soups, risottos, lots of tofu (a sesame-encrusted tofu burger is particularly nice), chicken, and seafood. The desserts may be the pièces de résistance, with lemon coconut cake; raspberry, vanilla, and pistachio cookies, and a show-stopping date square with chocolate and orange.

Les filles fattoush: la cuisine Syrienne, une cuisine de coeur (The Fattoush girls: Syrian cuisine, a cuisine of the heart) is the product of the Montreal-based social enterprise founded in 2017 by author Tarzibachi. Her idea was to create an organization to provide work experience for Syrian refugee women, while capitalizing on their culinary savvy. The group now sells a line of products in many local supermarkets and online, including herbs, spices, olive oil, and pomegranate molasses. They also operate a small summer kiosk at Montreal’s Jean Talon Market that sells Syrian snacks and dips represented in the book.

The recipes are clearly written and straightforward, with the standard kibbehs and brochettes, lamb roasts, hummus, lentil soups, and baklavas included. The most interesting element of the book, which is nominated in the Regional/Cultural Cookbooks category, is the portraits of the women in the collective: their personal stories of departure from their homeland, adaptation to life in Quebec and commitment to maintaining culinary traditions are what make the volume a winner.

Fish and Chips: A History by Panikos Panayi (Reaktion Books/University of Chicago Press; originally released 2014, reissued 2022). Reviewed by Maya Love (pictured above).

A scholarly account of the rise and enduring popularity of what cultural historian Panayi presents as a defining part of British culture, relating the complicated issues of class, identity formation and migration. Growing up in Essex Road, Islington (UK), Panayi tells readers that the roots of the book lie deep in his personal history. Friday-night fish-and-chips dining in his house reflected the practice of countless other households throughout Britain. 

The book is arranged in five chapters intended to inform our understanding of cosmopolitan food stories: origin, evolution, Britishness, ethnicity and the meaning of fish and chips. Panayi investigates the origins of eating fish and potatoes in Britain, describing how fried fish was first introduced and sold by immigrant Jews before it spread to the working classes of Britain in the early 19th century. He describes the birth of the meal itself and the marriage between fish and potatoes (in the form of chips) that created Britain’s most popular takeout. 

He then moves on to the evolution of fish and chips, and the technological and economic advances that led to the dish’s popularity and mass consumption in the first half of the 20th century. Panayi discusses the arrival of new contenders in the takeout food category, such as Indian and Chinese dishes that were introduced through global migration, although fish and chips had the distinction of being the original British fast food predominately available through family-run shops. Over time, in order to stay competitive, fish-and-chip shops included Indian curries and popular Chinese to-go items on takeout menus, while also offering sides of peas and sauces to accompany the fish and chips. 

The book provides an abundance of facts, anecdotes and black-and-white images of historical and modern fish-and-chip memorabilia to intrigue readers. Fish and Chips will appeal to those who enjoy British history, culinary historians, and all those who love this quintessentially British dish.

Distilled: A Natural History of Spirits by Rob DeSalle & Ian Tattersall (Yale University Press, 2022). Reviewed by Gary Gilman (pictured above).

Long affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History, natural historians DeSalle and Tattersall earlier collaborated to write A Natural History of Wine (2015) and A Natural History of Beer (2019). Distilled delves into the history of distillation, explaining its early origins in the Middle East and China, leading to column-steam distillation. Humanity's universal attraction to spirits is charted with impressively detailed explanations of our enzymatic capacity to process alcohol, a trait shared with only a few animals.

There is much other science, social and “hard,” in Distilled, including a discussion of the atomic structures of water and alcohol. Assisted by 16 museum-affiliated and academic contributors, chapters on everything from moonshine to mezcal, brandy to baijiu, are inclined to the highbrow but always approachable. Each reflects, to a degree, the interests and perspectives of the contributors. 

The whisky chapter, co-authored by a distiller in Tasmania, states that whisky should not be swirled in the glass before consumption, the “sure sign of a beginner.” (This reviewer, not a neophyte in the area, is a decades-long swirler, but that is neither here nor there.) Another chapter, by contrast, explains the benefits of shaking cocktails, expounding in part on molecular science. 

Mark Norell displays particular verve in the discussion of baijiu (a Chinese liquor), explaining its fearsome potential for creating hangovers. He recounts sampling baijiu that came "supposedly from before the [Chinese] civil war," out of flasks resembling “old anarchist bombs.” Afterwards, he writes, "I don't think I have ever felt so bad." (It gets even worse, but read the book!) Of course, there are different qualities of baijiu, he notes, with some at Mount-Everest prices.

The chapter on tequila was thought-provoking. The Mexican contributors consider that tequila is rather deracinated today, due to multinational ownership of most production. I do not see it that way but agree with them that smoke-tinged mezcal seems the more interesting drink. A deftly-written closing chapter canvasses the future of spirits from every angle, including the onset of “molecular” spirits made to emulate long aging.

I have little to cavil with, except to say that I consider the treatment of Irish, American and Canadian whiskeys (versus Scotch) to be overly compressed. In  particular, the single-pot-still mash in Irish tradition, which uses raw barley in part, might have been more stressed. Also, Bourbon County in Kentucky today is not a “dry” county.

As a rewarding, if not always easy, read, I certainly recommend the book to anyone with a serious interest in distilled drinks. It covers a great deal of ground, with much to absorb (if you will), and ponder.

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

  • Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 to 8 p.m. ET: “Beets are too old fashioned”: Henry Orr, a Black Caterer in Early Federal Washington, DC (via Zoom). Culinary Historians of New York present the 2021 Scholar’s Grant Recipient, Leni Sorensen, on the life of Henry Orr. Using his skills as a noted and excellent “waiter/caterer,” Orr supplied fine food and dining service for elite white families of Washington, DC, between 1816 and 1846, earning enough money to buy himself, his wife and his children out of slavery. A Q&A follows the lecture. Admission: $10 (general). Free (CHNY members). Preregistration is required.
  • Thursday, September 22, 6 to 9 p.m. ET: Campbell House Double Anniversary Event (Campbell House, Toronto). Historic Campbell House is celebrating its 200th birthday as well as 50 years at its current location with historic treats, contemporary snacks, an exhibit of archival photographs, film of the epic 1972 house move, live music and guest speakers. Admission: $25. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

6. International Conferences

Compiled by Kesia Kvill


October 22 to 23 (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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