Digestible Bits and Bites #26 - June 2015

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 26, June 2015
There's still time to reserve your spot for the Lost Chinatown Food Tour, Lunch and Hands-on Demo!

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.

Order your tickets online through the CHC website or contact Shirley Lum at 416-923-6813 or to reserve. Admission: $50 (general), $45 (CHC members), $40 (students with ID).
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

Toronto Jane Austen Festival!
From May 29-31, experience Jane Austen's world through the foods, fashions, music, games, smells and sounds she knew.

Friday, May 29 (Montgomery’s Inn)
  • Ball with live music
Saturday, May 30 (Old Town Toronto)
  • Lecture, bell-tower tour and demonstration of bell-ringing at St James’s Cathedral
  • Promenade in Regency attire, picnic and dancing at St James’s Park
  • Presentations at the Market Gallery: Karen Millyard on "A day in the life of Jane Austen", Royal historian Carolyn Harris on "The Georgian Royal Image"  and Elizabeth Webb on "Fashions in Austen’s lifetime"
  • Visit to Toronto’s First Post Office
  • Evening entertainments (music, cards and reading aloud) at Mackenzie House
Sunday, May 31 (Montgomery's Inn)
  • Full Georgian breakfast and supper
  • Tour of the museum
  • CHC president Fiona Lucas on "In Search of Sugar-plums"
  • "Jane Austen at Home": a musical concert by Barbara Ackerman (flute), Stephen Fuller (violin), Susanna McCleary (voice) and Dr Dorothy de Val (piano)
  • Fromager Martin Raymond on "The glories of Georgian cheese" (lecture and tasting with cold cider)
  • A hands-on letter-writing workshop with quill pen and sealing wax by Kate McAuley Akerfeldt of Toronto’s First Post Office
For further information, registration form and complete pricing, visit Admission to the complete weekend: $180 (general). $160 (students & seniors). Various packages and individual event tickets are available, starting at $5.

Seeking a Caribbean Food Expert
Jeanne E. Frerichs of the State University of New York at Fredonia (south of Buffalo, New York) is looking for a Caribbean food scholar to give a talk on campus as a part of Latino History Month (September 15 to October 15, 2015). This event will be sponsored by the student group Latinos Unidos, which has decided to devote a week to food topics. They are hoping for an academic who is both "engaging" & "dynamic" (doesn't that describe all food scholars?). Thanks for any suggestions! Please respond to Jeanne E. Frerichs,


Events of Interest

MAY 2015
  • 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, 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,
  • Sunday, May 31: Lost Chinatown Food Tour, Lunch and Hands-on Demo (See listing above.)
JUNE 2015
  • 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
  • Sunday, June 21: Father’s Day at the Farm (Ottawa, Ontario). Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
  • 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.)
  • Saturday, July 4: Ontario County Ball (Pickering, Ontario). A new event at Pickering Museum.
  • Saturday, July 11: Blue Ribbon Baking, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Pickering, Ontario). Pickering Museum invites visitors to sample their way through the village and vote for their favourite baked good at the General Store.
  • Saturday & Sunday, July 11 & 12: War of 1812 Re-enactment Weekend  (Morrisburg, Ontario) Upper Canada Village invites the public to step into the authentically recreated camps of the British and American army during the War of 1812 and meet period craftspeople, artisans and sutlers who come together to create a large display of living military history.
  • Saturday, July 18: Totally Tea, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Pickering, Ontario). Pickering Museum invites visitors to sample different teas, learn some tea etiquette and listen to the Village Singers.
  • Sunday, July 19: Ice Cream Festival (Ottawa, Ontario). Canada Agriculture and Food Museum invites the public to explore the journey from cow to cone and get the scoop on ice cream and dairying.
  • Thursday, July 30: 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.
  • 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

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)

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)
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)

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


Nourrir la machine humaine: Nutrition et alimentation au Québec 1860-1945 by Caroline Durand (McGill Queens University Press, May 2015—French edition)
Nutrition advice is ubiquitous. So many experts give their opinion on which foods to favour and which to avoid that the question of diet has now become a matter of obsession. While alerting the public to the dangers of obesity, diabetes, and other potential issues that await undisciplined eaters, health professionals and government agencies also identify those responsible for these modern epidemics: it is often individuals—and usually mothers—who make poor choices.

Caroline Durand traces the origins of this rhetoric and shows how nutrition has contributed to the modernization of Quebec in a period marked by industrialization, urbanization, two world wars, and a major economic crash. She analyzes the writings, and images disseminated by physicians, nurses, nutritionists, nuns, teachers, and civil servants and shows how the rational diet they promulgated made women, children, farmers, and workers responsible for their own health while enjoining them to view their body as a machine of production in service to the state and the market.

She also discusses the evolution of Quebec dietary habits and reveals that, despite the nutritional directives in place, the population maintained its preferences and mostly adopted the foods that it judged affordable and desirable. Nourrir la machine humaine questions the pertinence of nutritional advice within Quebec society and proposes explanations of its ideological and scientific roots, its effectiveness, and the resistance it engenders.

A Selection of Modernized Recipes from Food in the Civil War: The South by Jennifer Billoc and Helen Zoe Veit (American Food in History—Michigan State University Press, May 2015)
Selections of recipes, updated and tested by food editor Jennifer Billock, using measurements and techniques that modern readers can use in their own kitchen. Arranged by main meal occasions (breakfast, picnic or lunch, dinner, dessert) these recipes—some familiar, some curious, all intriguing—will allow family and friends to get a “taste of the times” with their own “Civil War era” meals. The original versions of these recipes (and many more) can be found in Food in the Civil War Era: The North and Food in the Civil War Era: The South, edited by Helen Zoe Veit, along with fascinating essays about the history and the times.

Another Person's Poison: A History of Food Allergy by Matthew Smith (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History—Columbia University Press, May 2015)
To some, food allergies seem like fabricated cries for attention. For others, they pose a dangerous health threat. Food allergies are bound up with so many personal and ideological concerns that it is difficult to determine what is medical and what is myth. This book parses the political, economic, cultural, and genuine health factors of a phenomenon that now dominates our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. Surveying the history of food allergy from ancient times to the present, Another Person's Poison also gives readers a clear grasp of new medical findings on allergies and what they say about our environment, our immune system, and the nature of the food we consume.

For most of the twentieth century, food allergies were considered a fad or junk science. While many physicians and clinicians argued that certain foods could cause a range of chronic problems, from asthma and eczema to migraines and hyperactivity, others believed that allergies were psychosomatic. Another Person's Poison traces the trajectory of this debate and its effect on public-health policy and the production, manufacture, and consumption of food. Are rising allergy rates purely the result of effective lobbying and a booming industry built on self-diagnosis and expensive remedies? Or should physicians become more flexible in their approach to food allergies and more careful in their diagnoses?

Exploring the issue from scientific, political, economic, social, and patient-centered perspectives, this book is the first to engage fully with the history of what is now a major modern affliction, illuminating society's troubled relationship with food, disease, and the creation of medical knowledge.

(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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