Digestible Bits and Bites #82, February 2020

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 82, February 2020
Legs of fowl prepared on January 18 for Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball at Montgomery's Inn in Etobicoke, Ontario. These are chicken legs marinated in white wine and lemon peel, larded with bits of ham and wrapped in puff pastry with a stuffing of butter, parsley, capers and other seasonings, served with a Celadon sauce (velouté stained a sea-foam green with parsley juice!) The recipe for the legs and sauce are from Richard Dolby's The Cook's Dictionary of 1830.


  1. CHC News and Upcoming Events

  2. News and Opportunities

  3. Food for Thought (book reviews)

  4. Events of Interest

  5. Upcoming International Conferences

1. CHC News and Upcoming Events


Hungry for Comfort 2020
Join fellow food enthusiasts at the 2020 edition of Hungry for Comfort: Celebrating Our Food History at Fort York National Historic Site on Sunday, February 9 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) to explore how different peoples survived and thrived during Canada’s bitter winter. 

This year, the spotlight is on the culinary stories of the Jewish community. There will be speakers, demonstrations and workshops as well as tastings and a catered lunch featuring Jewish recipes. Workshops include Hamantashen with professional baker Joel Levy; Cooking from The Jewish Cookery Book (1871) by Esther Levy, offered by the Fort York Volunteer Historic Cooks; Challah with Chef Doris Fin; Ruggelach with Chef Joanne Yolles; Kreplach with Chef Adell Shneer; and Chrime Fish with Harissa and Green Zhoug, led by Chef Carolyn Cohen.

Part of this Winterlicious event is the Baking and Preserving Competition, which will be co-organized by the Culinary Historians of Canada. The categories this year are Seville Orange Marmalade, Citrus Marmalade, Apple Chutney and Challah Bread.

The deadline for submissions is 9 a.m. on Saturday, February 9. Participants are welcome to enter as many categories as they like for a fee of $5 per entry, and they don't even have to attend the program to enter! Those who don't want to miss a thing can attend the whole day for $75 plus HST; pre-registration is required at the link above.

For more information about the competition, download the entry form with full regulations or contact the coordinators by email at

Family Winter Fun Day at Fort York
On Monday, February 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., CHC will be setting up a display at Family Winter Fun Day at Fort York. The theme is "Cookbooks: The Family Connection." We will be sampling cookies (by donation) made from the 3rd edition (1954) of The Wimodausis Club Cook Book (so named because the members of this Toronto-based women’s club were WIves, MOthers, DAUghters and SISters.)

We will also show various traditional and vintage ways in which families have passed down their recipes. We invite you to bring us your own family favourites and hope that this leads to some wonderful reminiscing over recipes handed down from your ancestors! We will also have membership forms on hand for new and renewing members.

Joining us in the Blue Barracks will be author Sher Leetooze, representing the Newcastle Village and District Historical Society, with some of her books about genealogy, gardening and local history. She has written a book of particular interest to culinary historians called Identifying Heritage Apples across Ontario.

If you're interested in volunteering with CHC, please contact President Carolyn Crawford ( at your earliest convenience.

John Ota’s Book Launch
CHC member and author John Ota has just published The Kitchen: A Journey through History in Search of the Perfect Design, and CHC is celebrating at Campbell House on March 5, when he'll talk about the book, which he wrote as part of his quest to seek out—and be inspired by—the great historic kitchens of Canada and the USA. The good news and the bad news: the event sold out as soon as we posted the listing!

If you were not able to get a ticket to our event, you can still attend the official launch at Toronto's Ben McNally Books on February 25 or buy the book at bookstores across Canada or directly from the publisher.
Join the Culinary Historians of Canada!

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

2. News and Opportunities

2020 Taste Canada Call for Submissions
Taste Canada Awards/Les Lauréats des Saveurs du Canada invites all publishers and authors to submit books published in 2019 to the 2020 Taste Canada Awards. The deadline for submissions is February 13, 2020.

Taste Canada will honour 20 jury-selected books: five Gold and five Silver winners in English and in French, authored by Canadian citizens, in the following categories:
  • General Cookbooks / Livres de cuisine générale
  • Single-Subject Cookbooks / Livres de cuisine sujet unique
  • Regional/Cultural Cookbooks / Livres de cuisine régionale et culturelle
  • Culinary Narratives / Narrations culinaires
  • Health and Special Diet Cookbooks/Livres de cuisine santé et diète particulière
Visit the Taste Canada website for full details about the awards and submission procedures. The winners will be announced at the Taste Canada Awards/Les Lauréats des Saveurs du Canada Gala in the fall of 2020.

Bill to Proclain “Food Day Ontario”
In 2003, CHC Honorary Member Anita Stewart founded Food Day Canada, an annual summer celebration when Canadians share our region’s rich culinary heritage and our delicious northern bounty. Last December, Ontario MPP Vincent Ke introduced a Private Member's Bill to proclaim the Saturday before Ontario's Civic Holiday (the first Monday in August) Food Day Ontario. Bill 163 will have its second reading in the Ontario Legislature on February 20.

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!)

Kate Hill Nicholson, who heads up the historic foodways activities at Montgomery's Inn in Etobicoke, Ontario, scored a triumph on January 18 with her menu for "Queen Charlotte's Birthday Ball." Even with a snowstorm blowing in, the inn was packed with 44 appreciative diners from the York Regency Dancers (pictured), who feasted on Lettuce Soup; Stuffed Chine of Pork; Legs of Fowls au Prince (see photo at top); Artichoke Bottoms à la Magnonnaise; French Beans in Black Butter; Portuguese Pears; Green Tea Cream; Apricot Sweetmeats and Pepper Cakes; and an Iced Negus served at the ball afterwards.

Sherry Murphy, Pat Currie and Tess Sciberras will be assisting with Kate's "Historic Tavern Meal" on February 8 at Montgomery's Inn. Sherry is also preparing recipes from Robert Roberts’ 1827 cookbook A House Servant’s Directory for the February 29 event "Exploring Our Culinary Roots: African-Canadian Foodways Then and Now," which will take place at Fort York.
Mya Sangster is leading one of the workshops at Fort York's Hungry for Comfort on February 9, in which she and other historic cooks will demonstrate that many of the recipes in The Jewish Cookery Book (1871) by Esther Levy, among them macaroons and Queen Cakes, were actually collected from much earlier sources.

Chantal Véchambre and Emily Zimmerman are both presenting events at Toronto's The Depanneur this month. On February 15, Chantal is cooking up a romantic French feast to celebrate Valentine's Day, and on February 17 Emily will be showing would-be chocolatiers how to make Valentine’s Day chocolates and truffles. (See the listings below for complete details.)

Chef Scott Savoie of Toronto Food Tours has been presenting a sold-out series of dinner tours titled "Edible History—Taste Where Toronto All Began" at the historic St. Lawrence Market.

John Ota's new book, The Kitchen: A Journey through History in Search of the Perfect Design, is being shipped to bookstores across Canada. Our book launch event on March 5 at Campbell House Museum is completely sold out, but you can catch him at Toronto's Ben McNally Books on February 25 (see listings below)!

3. 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 Elka Weinstein at or Sarah Hood at

United Tastes: The Making of the First American Cookbook by Keith Stavely & Kathleen Fitzgerald (University of Massachusetts Press, 2017). Reviewed by Fiona Lucas (pictured above).

The identity of “Amelia Simmons, an American Orphan,” the presumed author of American Cookery, the first cookbook written by an American for Americans, has long intrigued historians.

Her story also caught the attention of librarians Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald, known for America’s Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking (2004) and Northern Hospitality: Cooking by the Book in New England (2011). In their third book together, they focus on the first American cookbook, produced in 1796 in post-Revolutionary New England, specifically Hartford, Connecticut, and then Albany, New York.

Their goal was to examine and, if necessary, to debunk the romantic and mythic ideas associated with the book and its compiler, and to argue that its publication “was part of an effort by the prominent citizens of Connecticut to win cultural leadership of the new nation known as the United States of America.”

They sometimes don’t convince me, although their ability to ferret out subtle possibilities, linkages, suppositions, and conceivable explanations is continually impressive. By the end, Stavely and Fitzgerald’s scholarship rewards readers with an astoundingly nuanced scrutiny of a modest little cookbook that has come to hold an outsize reputation in the fields of cookbook and culinary histories.

The two authors don’t lay out a thesis or suggest a scenario upfront in their introduction, but let the story unfold point by point, rather like assembling clues to solve a mystery, as they examine a wide range of trans-Atlantic to regional to personal contexts, many not previously considered by other scholars.

Part One is titled “Cooks and Books.” The first chapter, “Adapted to This Country,” looks at the big frameworks of a rising national American identity and cultural independence, as well as previous writings about American cookery. Chapter Two, “Culinary Tradition,” situates the book within the history of British and American (no Canadian yet) recipe manuscripts, dietaries and cookbooks. “Print Culture” likewise situates the book within the history of an experienced British but nascent American publishing industry, such as written versus practical knowledge, literary genre, female anonymity, and the early development of copyright laws. We are also introduced to Barzillai Hudson and George Goodwin, and to Charles and George Webster, the pro-agrarian and ruralist Federalist men who printed the conflicting Hartford and Albany editions of American Cookery.

Having set the trans-Atlantic scene, Part Two zeroes in on Connecticut, with three distinct chapters: “Society and Nationality,” “Domestic Culture,” and “Agriculture, Fishing, Horticulture.” Citizens of and visitors to Connecticut were deeply impressed at how the forests had been transformed into prosperous farms and villages by the 1770s; merchants of imported consumer goods like crockery and textiles thrived. Newspapers were published in most towns too. Food was plentiful. This was the world into which Amelia Simmons was born. The depredations against the Native Americans were dismissed by her contemporaries, although not by Stavely and Fitzgerald.

Part Three delves deeply into American cookery itself with “The Cookbook,” “The Author and the Printers,” and “The Readers and the Editions.” The co-authors spend considerable time dissecting the words, tone and intent of Simmons’ title, long subtitle, two contradictory prefaces, and the errata page; the recipe order in editions one and two; the marketing section inserted in the second edition and Simmons’ reaction to it; and her claim to be a semi-literate orphan. They discuss the nation-building tensions the cookbook may or may not exhibit, especially in comparison to several contemporary unpublished culinary manuscripts.

Stavely and Fitzgerald find significant meaning in the intriguing fact that the first edition presented Simmons’ name in an elegant typeface on the title page, versus the plain typeface of the second, as an example of a topic no one else has considered when addressing the author’s and printers’ intentions. Considerable analysis of the actual recipes suggests they didn’t test any in their own kitchen, which seems odd because their introduction clearly says they did.

Another interesting topic is the deliberate (they suggest) omission of cornmeal recipes because they were too plain, even for a mostly plain American cookbook. Stavely and Fitzgerald really build a nuanced portrait of someone who may or may not have been as claimed, who may even have been a constructed persona invented to sell an agrarian republican ideal.

The conclusion, “The American Dream and Its Discontents,” was, for me as a Canadian, the least satisfactory part because the co-authors’ attempts to bring Simmons’ and her fellow Connecticut citizens’ “simmering resentments and self-determination” into the American 20th century seemed lame after I’d avidly followed the unfolding mystery. At the end are four appendices presented as charts: the sources, the recipes, works related to orphanhood, and details of all 15 editions.

United Tastes is an excellent addition to the still too-brief list of book-length—and therefore very detailed—studies of individual cookbooks. It should serve as an inspirational exemplar to other scholars.

Review Contributors
  • Luisa Giacometti
  • Gary Gillman
  • Sarah Hood
  • Sylvia Lovegren
  • Fiona Lucas
  • Elka Weinstein

4. Events of Interest

Compiled by Julia M. Armstrong, Jane Black, Lori Jamieson & Sarah Hood
THIS MONTH (February 2020)
  • Sunday, February 2: Wartime Food: Expect the Unexpected, noon to 2 p.m. Todmorden Mills opens its 1940s cottage for a demo and sampling of wartime recipes. Guests will learn how rationing affected menus and will experience the unexpected flavours and food combinations of Cheese Cube Relish, Canada War Cake and Tomato Soup Cake. A recipe booklet of the offbeat dishes from the workshop, and a few bonus ones, is included. Admission: $20. Pre-registration is required.
  • Wednesday, February 5: Dinner with the Mackenzies, 6 to 9 p.m. Mackenzie House invites the public to join William Lyon Mackenzie and his wife, Isabel, for a Victorian-inspired four-course meal prepared by Daniel et Daniel’s awarding-winning chef Karen O'Connor and served by candlelight and gaslight in the restored 1858 dining room. Guests will hear the state of Toronto affairs in 1861 from the city’s first mayor and learn about Mackenzie’s long and colourful career. A souvenir menu printed on the 1845 Washington Press in the restored print shop is included. Admission: $125. Pre-registration is required.
  • Thursday, February 6: The Austins Entertain, 6 to 10 p.m. Spadina Museum presents an exclusive party inspired by the Jazz Age. Guests will get an inside look at the life of the Austins and step back in time to enjoy live music, food and drink demonstrations, games, and a specially curated tasting menu of small plates and historic cocktails (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) based on period cookbooks and the museum's historic collection. Period attire encouraged. Admission: $95. Pre-registration is required.
  • Thursday, February 6: Community Oven Nights, 3 to 7 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery’s Inn opens its doors to community groups for a night of shared cooking and eating, using its kitchen, tea room and outdoor wood-burning oven. Admission: Free. Pre-registration is required at 416-394-8113.
  • Friday, February 7: David Gibson's Favourites: A Farmhouse Supper, 4 to 7 p.m. Gibson House welcomes historic cook and interpreter Sheena Westcott Sykes to cook hearty recipes inspired by the favourite foods of David Gibson, the original owner of Gibson House. Visitors will work around the open hearth fire with Sheena, learning about life on the Gibson farm and early Victorian cooking techniques, and then share the meal by candlelight in the historic dining room. Guests should wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. Admission: $50. Pre-registration is required.
  • Sunday, February 9: Hungry for Comfort: Celebrating Our Food History, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Fort York National Historic Site welcomes guests to explore how different peoples survived and thrived in Canada’s bitter winter. This year, the spotlight is on the Jewish community across Canada, with speakers, demonstrations and workshops. Participants will enjoy tastings and a catered lunch featuring Jewish recipes. CHC is collaborating on the annual Baking & Preserving Competition; anyone can enter a favourite recipe in any of four categories (see "CHC News and Upcoming Events," above, for details). The winners will be announced during the event. Admission: $75. Pre-registration is required.
  • Sunday, February 9: Edible History—Taste Where Toronto All Began, 6 to 10 p.m. St. Lawrence Market offers an edible "history tasting" dinner and food tour. Guests will be treated to an interactive evening with Chef and CHC member Scott Savoie of Toronto Food Tours as he shares tales of the world-renowned market and historical anecdotes from its 217-year history. The evening begins with wine and appetizers, followed by a historical tour of the market and a four-course dinner and cooking demonstration. Admission: $100 + HST & tip. Pre-registration is required. 416-699-7784,
  • Tuesday, February 11: David Gibson's Favourites: A Farmhouse Supper, 4 to 7 p.m. Gibson House welcomes historic cook and interpreter Sheena Westcott Sykes to cook hearty recipes inspired by the favourite foods of David Gibson, the original owner of Gibson House. Visitors will work around the open hearth fire with Sheena, learning about life on the Gibson farm and early Victorian cooking techniques, and then share the meal by candlelight in the historic dining room. Guests should wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. Admission: $50. Pre-registration is required.
  • Wednesday & Thursday, February 12 & 13: Dinner with the Mackenzies, 6 to 9 p.m. See Wednesday, February 5.
  • Saturday, February 15: Supper Club: La Saint-Valentin by Chantal Véchambre, 7:30 to 10:30 pm. CHC member, certified French chef, patissier and chocolatier Chantal Véchambre offers a selection of dishes inspired by St. Valentine for a fun and elegant dinner for lovers. Taking place at The Depanneur, it will include live jazz and French love songs performed by the Sonny Balcones. The menu includes Brochettes de Poulet Sauce Chocolat, Sole en Papillote and (for dessert) the slightly scandalous Puits d’Amour. Admission: $75 + HST. 416-828-1990.
  • Monday, February 17: Family Winter Fun Day at Fort York, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fort York invites visitors to the 1826 kitchen to try some baked goods and hot chocolate prepared over the hearth, along with many hands-on activities, performances and exhibitions. CHC will be there with a display, treats and sign-up forms. Admission: Free.
  • Monday, February 17: Valentine’s Day Chocolates & Truffles, 6:30 to 9 p.m. CHC member Emily Zimmerman of Pear and Pepper offers a hands-on workshop at The Depanneur in which she introduces basic techniques for chocolate and truffle making. Participants will leave with a box full of chocolates handmade with organic, fairly traded and locally processed ChocoSol chocolate, as well as a recipe pack. Admission: $60 + HST; $30 (children under 12 accompanying an adult). 416-828-1990.
  • Tuesday, February 25: John Ota Official Book Launch, 6 p.m. Appetite by Random House presents a celebration of The Kitchen by CHC member John Ota at Ben McNally Books (366 Bay Street). Light refreshments and remarks will be followed by a book signing. Admission: Free. Register online.
  • Saturday, February 29: Exploring Our Culinary Roots: African-Canadian Cuisine Then and Now, 3 to 6:30 p.m. Fort York National Historic Site invites the public to explore African-Canadian cooking then and now, with a lantern tour of the Officers’ Mess, where soldiers once dined and relaxed, a tasting of a historic punch from Robert Roberts’ 1827 cookbook, A House Servant’s Directory, and visits to the 19th-century kitchen and the Blue Barracks for historic cooking demonstrations and samples. Admission: $25. Pre-registration is required.
Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)
  • Saturday, February 8: Historic Tavern Meal, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Montgomery’s Inn presents the fascinating history of an 1840s Toronto tavern and a typical 19th-century tavern meal in a unique historic setting. The meal includes peppermint shrub cocktail, artisan cheese, freshly baked bread, pickled and preserved vegetables, hearty meat and potatoes and a selection of historic desserts, all prepared according to authentic early Victorian recipes. Beer and wine will be available at the cash bar. Also, Richard Fiennes-Clinton, author of Muddy York, will speak about the history of inns in early Toronto. Admission $35. Pre-registration is required.
  • Thursday, February 27: Thirsty Thursday, 7 to 10 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery’s Inn presents Thirsty Thursday tavern night with beer, wine or a Thomas Montgomery specialty in the restored 1847 barroom, along with Irish stew, fresh-baked bread and live traditional music. Admission: Free. Cash bar; $5 for a bowl of stew while supplies last. 416-394-8113.
  • Thursday, February 27: Dining Decorum, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Oshawa, Ontario). Parkwood Estate presents an exploration of the etiquette of a fascinating bygone era, capturing the niceties and absurdities of formal entertaining during the 1920s and 1930s. At the conclusion of the program, guests will enjoy tea and homemade scones in the Gardener’s Lodge. Admission: $35 + HST. Pre-registration is required. 905-433-4311,
Other Regions
  • Saturday to Friday, February 1 to 7, 2020: La Poutine Week (national). Restaurants in various cities, including Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa/Gatineau, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver make special poutines, and diners vote for their favourite ones.
  • Friday, February 14: Traditional English Wassailing Dinner (Terra Cotta, Ontario). Spirit Tree Estate Cidery presents a traditional Victorian wassailing dinner as part of its Cider Masters Dinner Series. Guests will be served a five-course dinner with optional cider pairings, consisting of canapés, Goose Consommé, Trout Wellington, Goose Cromesquis, Roasted Crown, and King & Queen Cake. Admission: $95 (dinner only); $125 (dinner plus cider).
  • Saturday, February 14 to Sunday, February 23: Fort Gibraltar at Festival du Voyageur (Winnipeg). He! Ho! Watch interpreters recreate life at Fort Gibraltar at the height of the fur trade, including demonstrations of pounding pemmican and outdoor cooking. Admission: $10 to $75.
  • Monday, February 17: Family Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Galt, Ontario). McDougall’s Cottage drop-in program for Family Day will have classic family-friendly games, fun crafts and tours of the cottage. McDougall’s popular Family Day Café will be open from 1 to 4 p.m., offering samples of tasty and traditional Scottish treats like shortbread, Scottish toffee and more. Free recipes will be available. Admission: By donation.
  • Friday to Sunday, February 28 to March 1: Le Mondial des Cidres SAQ (Montreal). A celebration of hundreds of craft ciders.
LOOKING AHEAD (March 2020)
  • Thursday, March 5: John Ota’s New Book: The Kitchen, 6:30 to 8 p.m. CHC and Campbell House Museum welcome CHC member, architectural writer and historian John Ota as he launches his new book and takes us on tour of the kitchens of Julia Child,Georgia O’Keeffe, Elvis Presley and more. SOLD OUT!
  • Thursday, March 12: Exploring Canada's New Food Guide, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Malvern Branch of Toronto Public Library welcomes a dietitian from Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities, who will introduce the new Canada's Food Guide, published in January 2019. The session will include a review of the changes from the previous guide, discussion about vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein foods, and sharing of key health messages from the guide. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the benefits of different types of ancient grains and learn how to read nutrition facts labels. Admission: Free. Pre-registration is required. 416-396-8970.
  • Saturday & Sunday, March 14 & 15: Sugar Shack TO, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. A waterfront festival with skating, maple taffy and other sugary winter treats.
  • Saturday to Sunday, March 14 to 22: March Break Family Adventures at Todmorden Mills, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Todmorden Mills offers a guided tour of the historic buildings and tasty treats to sample, along with other family activities. Admission: $5 to $9. Children must be accompanied by an adult. 416-396-2819.
  • Saturday to Sunday, March 14 to 22: March Break Family Adventures at Gibson House, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Gibson House offers a chance to explore the historic farmhouse, enjoy gingerbread and warm apple cider, and help make griddle cakes and hot chocolate in the historic kitchen, along with other family activities. Admission $5 to $8. 416-395-7432,
  • Saturday to Sunday, March 14 to 22: March Break Family Adventures at Fort York, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (5 p.m. on weekends). Fort York National Historic Site offers tasty treats prepared by staff and volunteer historic cooks from the 1826 kitchen, along with other family activities. Admission: $5.30 to $12.40 + HST.
  • Monday to Friday, March 16 to 20: March Break Adventure Camp at Spadina Museum, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Spadina Museum offers cooking workshops, among other activities, during this week-long March Break camp suitable for children ages 7 to 10. Aspiring chefs will have fun making a different historic recipe (including Cheese Straws, sugar cookies and finger sandwiches) each day and tasting the results afterwards. Admission: $207 + an extra charge for before/after care and for non-residents. Pre-registration is required. 416-392-6910,
  • Monday to Friday, March 16 to 20: March Break Maker Camp at Scarborough Museum, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Scarborough Museum offers a week of fun and creativity that includes learning how to bake over the hearth. Admission: TBC. Pre-registration is required. 416-338-8807,
  • Tuesday to Friday, March 17 to 20: March Break Family Adventures at the Lodge, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Colborne Lodge offers tastings of hot-mulled apple cider served over a wood-fired stove, along with other family activities. During the lodge's "Passport Tuesday,” visitors can learn about Irish soda bread at a demo and tasting. Admission: $5 to $8. 416-392-6916,
  • Friday, March 20: Fun & Games Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the final day of March Break Day programming, Gibson House invites visitors to experience a Victorian childhood with classic toys, parlour games, cooking and other pastimes. Admission: $41.25. Pre-registration is required. 416-395-7432.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)
  • Saturday, March 7: Historic Hat Show & Tea, 1:30 to 3 p.m. (Oshawa, Ontario). Parkwood Estate offers tea, homemade scones and jam in the beautiful Parkwood Sunroom, followed by a journey through the history of hats and their local and societal significance through the decades, and a chance to view an exhibit of notable hats. Admission: $35 + HST. Pre-registration is required: Angie Vehof, 905-433-4311.
  • Saturday, March 14: St. Patrick's Céilidh, 7 to 10 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). The annual St. Patrick's Day celebration at Montgomery's Inn, with Irish stew, fresh-baked bread and live traditional music by Gin Lane. Admission: $5 + HST, cash bar, and beef stew for $5 a bowl while supplies last.
  • Saturday to Sunday, March 14 to 22: March Break Family Adventures at Montgomery's Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Montgomery's Inn offers tastings of Derby cakes in the dining room, baked fresh from the historic kitchen, along with other family activities. Admission: $5 to $8.
  • Monday to Friday, March 16 to 20: Junior Chef Camp at Montgomery’s Inn, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery’s Inn offers a day camp that teaches cooking fundamentals using the open hearth in the 1830s kitchen, the outdoor wood-burning oven and the modern commercial kitchen. Staff who specialize in 19th-century cooking techniques will introduce kids to these techniques and take them on a visit of the inn’s weekly indoor farmers’ market. Baking-themed games and crafts—along with a full lineup of traditional camp activities—will ensure that everyone works up a healthy appetite. On Friday campers create and enjoy their own pizza using the wood-fired brick oven. Admission: $272 (extra charge for before/after care; additional charge for non-residents). Pre-registration is required. 416-394-8113,
  • Thursday, March 26: Thirsty Thursday, 7 to 10 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery’s Inn presents Thirsty Thursday tavern night with beer, wine or a Thomas Montgomery specialty in the restored 1847 barroom, along with Irish stew, fresh-baked bread and live traditional music. Admission: Free. Cash bar; $5 for a bowl of stew while supplies last. 416-394-8113.
Other Regions
  • Saturday, March 7: History Symposium, Dinner & Ball (Waterloo & Cambridge, Ontario). Waterloo Regional Museum hosts a conference presented by the Fashion History Museum in association with the 41st Military Living History Group and the Upper Thames Military Reenactment Society. Sessions cover such topics as social media for historians, the history of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Jane Austen's naval brothers and historic maps of Canada. A dinner and Regency-style ball follow at The Pines in Cambridge. The menu consists of Top Sirloin of Beef or Chicken Kiev, Roasted Vegetables Napoleon and White Chocolate Cheesecake or Rum Raisin & Pecan Cheesecake. Regency or contemporary formal attire is encouraged but not mandatory. Admission: $65 (symposium & lunch); $75 (dinner & ball). Pre-registration is required before 10 p.m. on Sunday, March 1.
  • Thursday to Sunday, March 19 to 22: Cabane Panache et Bois Rond (Montreal). The 10th annual edition of this urban sugar-shack festival and lumberjack party, with music, traditional food and a focus on all things maple.
  • Daily: Historic Afternoon Tea & Tour at Fort Langley National Historic Site, tea 1 to 2:45 p.m.; tour 3 to 4:30 p.m. (Fort Langley, British Columbia). An elegant afternoon tea at the Little White House Salon Café in the coach house of the historic Marr House. Fort Langley, a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, was first established in 1827. On the tour, visitors will hear about local historical characters and explore the homes and workshops of the people of the trade. Admission: $15.68 per person (plus admission fee for groups of 15–30), including tea and tour. 604-513-4799 or
  • Daily: Fishing the West Coast and the Canning Line, 10 a.m. to  5 p.m. (Steveston, British Columbia). The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site offers exhibits on the development of fishing on Canada’s West Coast and modern fishing practices, too. Admission: Free.
  • Sundays, Tea and Tour of Roedde House, 1 to 3:15 p.m. (Vancouver). A tea tasting of Roedde House blend by Metropolitan Tea Co., along with a tour of the museum. Admission: $8. No reservations required.
  • Saturdays & Sundays: Tour & Taste Weekends, 1 to 4:30 p.m. (Toronto). Gibson House offers tea, cookies and a seat at the harvest table in the 1850s historic kitchen. Admission: Free with regular admission.
  • Daily: Demonstrations at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Ottawa, Ontario). Participate in a full day’s schedule of activities, including cooking with oats, butter making, milking and grinding grain. Admission to museum: $8 to $10, free from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Indefinite run: Beggar’s Banquet (Louisbourg, Nova Scotia). Participants enjoy an 18th-century maritime meal while dressed in period clothing.
  • Sundays, Tea Time at the Inn, 1 to 4 p.m. (Etobicoke, Ontario). Montgomery’s Inn offers a spot of tea and a taste of history in the Tea Room, including in-house baking and unlimited tea service. Tea served and goods baked by the dedicated Montgomery's Inn volunteers. Admission: $8.

5. International Conferences

Compiled by Julia M. Armstrong


March 26 to 28 (Greensboro, North Carolina)
Program: Building on a 16-year tradition, the schedule includes a mix of short presentations and interactive pedagogy-focused workshops. Read more about the conference ethos.
Of note: See the conference site for resource lists on food in film and literature, and more.

April 18 (York, England)
Theme: Food and Health—an examination of how food and health are closely linked
through the ages.
To register: Download and mail the application form, which must arrive before March 20.

May 26 to 27 (Dublin, Ireland)
Theme: Food and Disruption: What Shall We Eat Tomorrow? Disruptors in food history can include people, movements, technological advancements and disasters.
Of note: Browse the contents of past symposiums.

May 27 to 30 (Athens, Georgia)

Theme: Cultivating Connections: Exploring Entry Points Into Sustainable Food Systems. 
Host: The University of Georgia’s Sustainable Food Systems Initiative.
Call for proposals (deadline February 7): An invitation to envision a more sustainable and equitable future by critically engaging with the histories and legacies that have framed agricultural food landscapes over time.

June 21 to 25 (Boston, Massachusetts)
Theme: 50 Years of Living History.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston.
Of note: Includes a day exploring Old Sturbridge Village, New England's largest outdoor living history museum.

July 10 to 12 (Oxford, England)
Theme: Herbs & Spices.
Venue: St. Catherine's College, Oxford.

September 23 to 25 (Antwerp, Belgium)

Organizers: International Society for Ethnology and Folklore.
Theme: Food, People and the City: Comparative Perspectives. A look at food production, distribution and consumption as cultural practices, in different periods and societies.


May 13 to 15 (Guelph, Ontario)

Kitchen Table Talk to Global Forum.
Venue: University of Guelph.
Of note: The RWSA is an international association that promotes and advances farm and rural women’s/gender studies in a historical perspective.
Deadline for proposals: May 31, 2020; see conference website.

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. 
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