Digestible Bits and Bites #88, August 2020

Digestible Bits and Bites

The monthly newsletter of the
Culinary Historians of Canada
Number 88, August 2020
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Memories of Dominion Day 1940 from Parkwood National Historic Site in Oshawa, Ontario. Photo by Samantha George. Read more in the Food Day Canada roundup, below.


  1. CHC News

  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

Today Is Food Day Canada!

Food Day Canada 2020 falls on August 1, and in our last newsletter we invited our readers to get involved as part of our Canadian Cooking Challenge (see the response below).

However, there are lots of other ways to get involved today, as iconic structures across the country are being lit red and white in honour of Canadian cuisine, from Government House in St. John's to Vancouver City Hall—and even Niagara Falls!

Today, you can "shop like a Canadian" using Food Day Canada's all-Canadian shopping list, "cook like a Canadian" with your favourite recipes or some of theirs, and "share like a Canadian" by inviting some of your favourite people to join you to enjoy a meal, in person or virtually.

Post your menus, photos and stories with pride, passion and the hashtag #FoodDayCanada. Watch your stories together with thousands of others at and on Instagram and Twitter at @fooddaycanada.

And today only (August 1), enter for a chance to win a prize from KitchenAid Canada, which has donated ten of its iconic Stand Mixers to help celebrate ten years of Food Day Canada. To win:
  1. Share your love of Canadian ingredients on Twitter, Instagram or the Food Day Canada Facebook page with the hashtag #FoodDayCanada.
  2. Make it a photo or photos, a poem, a video, or your media of choice to sing the praises of Canadian-grown produce, meats, drinks and more.
  3. Be entered for a chance to win a prize from KitchenAid Canada; official rules are posted online.

New Bibliographies & CHC History Online

CHC founding member Fiona Lucas has contributed several valuable and painstaking pieces of research to our website. We're proud to publish them and know they will be invaluable to our members and friends.

First: updated and expanded editions of two extensive bibliographies that will reside under the Research Sources section of the site: Second, a delightful set of slide shows covering the history of CHC (after opening the page, scroll to the links at the bottom).

We're very grateful to Fiona for making the fruits of her many hours of labour freely available.

Last Chance! Referral List for Presenters

From time to time, people contact CHC to ask about booking food-history presentations. Therefore, we've prepared a referral list of CHC members available to offer lectures and classes.

We've put out several calls, so this is the last chance for this year. If you're not on the list but would like to be included, please let us know by Friday, August 14 by emailing (Please note that this is an opportunity for CHC members in good standing only.)

Photo by Sarah Hood.

Pie Pageant 2020

Calling all pie bakers! With the cancellations of festivals and fairs this year, we thought we'd try a virtual pie pageant as our Canadian Cooking Challenge for August!

Bake a family-favourite pie: savoury, sweet or both. Tell us your family story about the pie (100 words maximum, please) and photograph your pie creation for us, twice (the full pie and a slice, so we can see the filling). Upload these to the CHC Facebook page to enter the pageant, on or before midnight on Sunday, August 16 (two submissions per profile only).

Our virtual blue-ribbon winners will be announced on Facebook on Thursday, August 27 and featured in our September newsletter.

Be Part of a Book Launch!

Calling all CHC members! In September, The Taste of Longing, a biography of Ethel Mulvaney, is being released. This story of a Canadian woman from Manitoulin Island who was held as a POW in Singapore during WWII is woven with genuine 1940s-era recipes and has a particular emphasis on food history and the overlooked stories of women in wartime.

As Ethel selects her most cherished items to take with her into Changi Prison, she grabs her copy of the 1932 A Guide to Good Cooking, published by Five Roses Flour. Author Suzanne Evans states that "Ethel loved that book, literally eating it up as she chewed the spine when she was a prisoner, hoping to glean a little protein from the glue in addition to inspiration from the recipes."

To celebrate the release of The Taste of Longing, CHC, along with the publisher, Between the Lines (BTL), is asking members who are interested to select a recipe from A Guide to Good Cooking (a 1915 version of the Five Roses cookbook can be accessed via the CHC website) and recreate the recipe, documenting it step by step, for eventual sharing on our Facebook page and for BTL's social feeds.

If you are inclined, please photograph or record digitally and send your cooking demo and your musings and thoughts about the steps or the final product to by Friday, August 28. CHC and BTL will post submissions between September 8 and 28. (By submitting your material to Sam, you are providing CHC and BTL permission to edit and use it for social and promotional activities on their sites.)

Let the life and experiences of Ethel inspire you! Here is a link to the CBC interview with Suzanne Evans in October 2019.

CHC AGM Notice

This year’s annual general meeting (AGM) will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2020. Given current circumstances, the CHC board feels that it is prudent to hold this meeting via online video. Watch upcoming issues of this newsletter and our Facebook page for more details about the forum for this meeting and how members and guests can participate.

All 2019-2020 memberships expire on the day before the AGM; only members in good standing have voting privileges. Please renew your membership by clicking the link to our membership application and renewal page as soon as possible before the day of the AGM. Membership is still only $30 for one year (or $55 for two years). Please note that those who renew, join or reinstate a lapsed membership between now and the AGM will be credited with membership until the fall of 2021.

As a volunteer non-profit organization, our greatest strength is in our members, whose talents and vision move us forward. There are board and committee positions to be filled at this year's AGM. If you would like more information about the positions and job descriptions, contact CHC Secretary Lori Jamieson at


Photo by Sarah Hood.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair News
Save a few of your best jam and pickle jars for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Preserving Competitions! Although the fair is cancelled, the Agricultural Food Competitions will go on as planned. Members of the CHC board sit on various RAWF committees, so stay tuned to this newsletter and our Facebook page for more news as it develops.

Celebrating Canadian Cooking
Last month, our newsletter came out on Canada Day; this month it's Food Day Canada. In the spirit of both days, we challenged our members and friends to celebrate Canadian cooking this month. Here's what they came up with!
Mark D'Aguilar baked "not artisan-style loaves with beautifully intricate scored designs—just my go-to everyday (but delicious) maple-oatmeal sourdough bread. Slices up well for sandwiches."

CHC Vice-President Samantha George writes that "the heritage foodways group at Parkwood Estate National Historic Site, War in the Kitchen, recreated some of the Dominion Day menus suggested by Marie Holmes of the Toronto Star (June 28, 1940)."

The Dominion Day Ground Picnic, pictured at the top of the page, featured bread-and-butter sandwiches, second brew tea punch in a Mason jar (renamed "war tea punch" in 1942), oatmeal and raisin cookies, carrot sticks, tomato wedges, gherkins wrapped in deli meat, and apples and strawberries.

The Porch Picnic included second brew tea punch, stuffed eggs, potatoes with paprika, all in one salad (pictured below), bread-and-butter sandwiches, sugared strawberries, tomato wedges and cookies.

The Intrepid Eater (a.k.a. food consultant Adam Berkelmans) went all out, but he writes that he struggled to define Canadian food. "Is it butter tarts and Nanaimo bars? Is it traditional Quebecois fare? Is it Indigenous food? Is it Tim Horton’s? (No. No, it isn’t.) Is it multicultural food brought over with centuries of immigration from a multitude of countries and regions?"

He settled on "truly Canadian ingredients. The majority of items in this meal were hunted, fished, gathered or grown by me, or purchased from local sources." His main course consisted of:
  • seared wild Canada goose breasts (that he hunted for in the fall) with reduced wild blueberry sauce and a Muskoka cranberry and wild juniper berry coulis
  • a wild rice pilaf with wild cattail shoots, oyster mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and spring onions from the garden
  • Gaspésie wild mushroom powder and spruce salt
  • a salad of sorrel and nasturtium leaves, flowers and herbs, all from the garden, tossed in local sunflower seed oil
  • a fall hunted wild duck liver mousse with Canadian whiskey and local maple syrup
  • pickled wild spruce tips and whole Muskoka cranberries
  • Canadian gin with wild violet syrup, made in the spring, to wash it all down
"Everyone has a different Canadian identity; mine celebrates the Canadian natural world, Indigenous influence, a history of hard workers, and today’s multiculturalism, which enriches all of our lives," he sums up.

More Canadian delights pictured below:
  • Top left: The Intrepid Eater's starters: freshly caught large-mouth bass salad canapés on caraway rye with cucumber, homegrown chervil and dill.
  • Top right: Judy Corser celebrated "our beautiful Canadian prawns caught in pristine Salish Sea waters and sold alive and kickin’ at the dock in Ladner, B.C."
  • Middle row & bottom left: Sherry Murphy returned to 1920s Canada with three iconic recipes from The Canadian Cook Book by Nellie Lyle Pattinson: a Dutch Apple Cake (page 248 of the 1923 edition), a Maple Parfait (page 277 of the 1921 edition) and "good old Butter Tarts" (1923, page 238).
  • Bottom right: Sarah Hood went hyper-local with the raspberries from her own postage-stamp backyard in Toronto, most of which are now safely preserved as jam.

2. News and Opportunities

Online Activities

An enticing array of culinary history–related diversions is on offer this month:
  • Chef Doris Fin has a YouTube channel; check out her most recent video, an exuberant foraging demo called Wild Presto Pesto.
  • Capri Cafaro is conducting an online baking class featuring three vintage cake recipes from two early 1960s American cookbooks (Betty Crocker and McCall’s) on Sunday, August 2 at 1 p.m. Admission is $41 (USD).
  • Tavola Mediterranea is presenting "The Old School Kitchen Online Summer Camp": online classes in foods of the ancient world. August 1: Magna Graecia. August 8: Roman Republic. August 12 & 29: Vegetarian Dishes. August 15: Roman Banquet. August 22: Medieval Rome. August 26: Romans: Panem et polentam, Fees are $149 (USD) per class.
  • On Friday, August 7, Atlas Obscura presents Accidental Discoveries: In the Kitchen, part of a series of talks revealing accidents that led to major discoveries in different fields. In this edition, you’ll hear about the happy mishaps that led to the inventions of Saran Wrap, Popsicles and Worcestershire sauce. Admission is $7 (USD).
  • Eat Your Heartland Out is a new podcast about Midwestern US foodways that explores how a shared food culture of pork, cabbage and potatoes helped provide a social connection between Irish, German and Eastern European settlers to the Midwest.  

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!)

Above (left to right): Parkwood's 1940s menu, including cheese and asparagus mould, tomato biscuits, lobster and pineapple salad and an array of small cakes. Some of the recipes are posted to the CHC Facebook page. Photo by Samantha George.

Samantha George and the foodways group at Parkwood Estate National Historic Site in Oshawa, Ontario, interpreted the first of three different 1940s wedding menus that will become part of the site's catering roster. "This was an offshoot project of War in the Kitchen, our group that is following Marie Holmes, who wrote for the Toronto Star from 1939 to 1945," Samantha explains. "It was created because of the cancellation or rebooking of our 2020 weddings due to COVID-19. I hope you enjoy our take!"

Chef Scott Savoie was recently featured on CBC with his Chef Scott Shop and the plight of Toronto's St. Lawrence Market vendors as they try to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic. His solution? A home-order box with curated market ingredients and recipes!

Nathalie Cooke, professor and associate dean at McGill University in Montreal, is calling all food history enthusiasts to visit The Riddle Project Blog, online exhibition and new Instagram channel. "McGill’s Riddle Project is delighted to announce the launch of a new Instagram account (@riddles_in_time) and invites you come along for a thought-provoking journey into the history of culinary riddling," she writes. "Follow our Instagram to try your hand at cracking the code of 1890s Scripture Cakes as Nellie McClung knew them in 1890s Manitoba. Or to decipher the riddles hidden within Conundrum Supper menus advertised in the 1920s Kelowna Record. We look to historical food riddles and puzzles in myriad forms: from 'Enigmatical Bills of Fare' to charming Assiettes Parlantes that fed body and mind at dinner parties in the 19th century, and even to such contemporary cryptic food practices as the phenomenon of speakeasies or Resurrection Cakes."

Glessner House Kitchen, Chicago (as it was in 1887). Photo by John Ota.

John Ota writes: "I was honoured to give my talk on the 'Evolution of the Great North American Kitchen' to the Culinary Historians of Northern California (San Francisco), Wisconsin, and Chicago. Like us, they have a hunger for knowledge and culinary history. We had lovely discussions about kitchen memories, cooking and people. Also like us, they were friendly, enthusiastic and positive cooks. I extended culinary greetings from the Culinary Historians of Canada! I could definitely feel a bond."

John also gave a virtual talk for the University of Toronto's Innis College, and his book The Kitchen was featured in an article in Architectural Digest.
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! 

3. Destinations

Do you know of a great historic site with a food program? Send a short article with one or two of your best photos to by the 25th of the month to have your write-up included in our next issue!

The kitchen at Brubacher House. Photo by Jane Black.

Brubacher House, Waterloo, Ontario
by Jane Black

Brubacher House Museum is an example of Pennsylvania German Mennonite living of the 1850s. While the original Brubacher home’s interior was destroyed by a fire in 1968, Brubacher House Museum is a faithful restoration of the original house built by the Brubacher family in the 1850s, incorporating the same methods the Brubachers would have used, including hand-hewn beams.

Emulating Georgian style, it is very similar to many other fieldstone homes still in use by Mennonite families throughout the Waterloo Country area, especially in the way it reflects Anabaptist values and  beliefs. Visitors to the museum enter directly into the "kuche," or kitchen, which contains a large hearth, corner cabinet, and wooden table.

In addition to culinary pursuits, the kitchen also reflects many other activities that occurred in this area, including spinning, childcare and visiting neighbours. The artifacts in the kitchen and elsewhere in Brubacher House are donations from local Pennsylvania German Mennonite families of authentic 19th-century artifacts, including many from Brubacher families.

The house also contains a summer kitchen in the basement and a pantry. The outside grounds feature a traditional four-square kitchen garden surrounded by edible native shrubs, chokeberries, herbs and three varieties of haskaps. The plants and their arrangements reflect biblical principles and stories.

Many plants that the Brubacher family used for food, fibre arts and medicine throughout the year are represented. Owned by the University of Waterloo, the site is normally open for tours during scheduled summer hours or through appointment the rest of the year. Admittance is by donation.

Brubacher House and garden. Photos by Jane Black.

Fryfogel Inn, Perth County, Ontario
by Jane Black

Along highway 7/8 from Kitchener to Stratford, one finds another Georgian-inspired building, the Fryfogel Inn (a.k.a. Fryfogel’s Tavern, or any combination of the two). It dates to the 1840s, when it was erected by Swiss immigrants, the Fryfogel family, on land they originally settled in 1827. Business was brisk at the inn in the early years until the advent of a train line reduced its utility as the only stagecoach stopping point.

Over the years, it served several purposes for the Fryfogel family, from restaurant to private home to cheese factory, until the 1960s. Now owned by the Stratford Perth Heritage Foundation, it is being restored to its original glory with some upgrades, such as modern electricity. Despite the update, much of the tavern in its present state hearkens back to the days before electricity, with five original fireplaces and frescoes that were rediscovered during restoration. There is a very large kitchen hearth in the basement. Numerous artifacts from the inn and the Fryfogel family are on display at the nearby Stratford Perth Museum.

Currently closed due to COVID-19, Fryfogel is usually open seasonally (over 100 years as a destination for wedding photos), for events such as teas, historical meals and summertime tours. Despite the building being closed, passing motorists can stop and explore the grounds and five acres of property, including the trails and Fryfogel Arboretum, which aims to preserve trees and plants native to the area. Note, however, that no maintenance is done during the winter on the trails. Plans for an orchard with historical apple varieties are also in the works. The current heritage garden is well marked with signage, providing a great opportunity for an outdoors, socially distanced historical activity.

Fryfogel Inn. Photos by Jane Black.

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 Elka Weinstein at or Sarah Hood at


Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes from My African American Kitchen by Alexander Smalls & Veronica Chambers (Flatiron Books, 2020). Reviewed by Maya Love (pictured above).

Chef Alexander Smalls invites us into the kitchen to enjoy the culinary tradition and music that is rooted in memories of growing up in South Carolina. A former opera singer, he subsequently became one of New York’s most celebrated restaurateurs and culinary storytellers, winning a James Beard Award for the cookbook Between Harlem and Heaven. Along with co-author Veronica Chambers, a food writer at The New York Times, Chef Smalls shares a collection of 75 curated Creole and Low Country dishes celebrating the Southern legacy of African American food culture and history.  

The book is arranged into seven chapters of recipes inspired by genres of music: Jazz, Spirituals, Gospel, Opera, Divas, Jukebox, and Serenades. Smalls combines his love of music, food, culture, history and storytelling, inspiring readers to understand the nuances of Southern food and music. Throughout the book, he encourages us to improvise with his recipes and to make them our own, looking for the “sweet spot of harmony; the mix between what the recipe calls for and what feels right for us in our own kitchens.”

Canadian home cooks will readily find the ingredients for such easy-to-follow recipes as buttermilk mac and cheese, sweet pickle potato salad, Creole Caesar salad with corn bread croutons, Southern fried chicken plate, citrus-glazed pork loin roast with corn cream sauce and sweet potato biscuits. Food and ingredients featured throughout the book are corn and grits, greens, okra, buttermilk, seafood, beans, sweet potatoes, rice and Bourbon. Sauces are created to accompany many of the dishes, and Smalls proclaims that “gravy is the ambassador of flavor [sic] for the taste buds.” 

Cakes, pies and puddings make up the concluding sweet endings chapter, aptly named Serenades. Blackberry cobbler, doughnuts and Southern pound cake are some of the temptations, along with icebox lemon pie. Smalls tells us that “all you need to know is that icebox lemon pie is the easiest pie you’ll ever make.” He’s right—I made the pie. Simply put, Alexander Smalls tells stories through food and music and concludes the book with an extensive playlist to go with the meals.  


Little Italy: Italian Finger Food by Nicole Herft (Hardie Grant, 2014). Reviewed by Luisa Giacometti (pictured above).

I was drawn to this book because I like finger food and I can make a complete meal out small portions of varied tastes, colours and shapes. I come from an Italian background and often make and eat Italian food, but I always find it interesting to read authors who present a different perspective on Italian-style eating.

Finger foods, or cicchetti as they are called in Venice, stuzzichini in Southern Italy and antipasti in North America, are small portions of the favourite Italian foods that we all enjoy. Think of them as a version of Spanish tapas. It’s fun to try out a variety of savoury and sweet food selections that can be shared with friends and family with a glass of prosecco or Italian wine.

The author does a nice job of dividing the book into the Savoury and Sweet sections with beautiful accompanying pictures of the final product and suggested serving ideas. The recipes are simple to make, and Herft provides detailed instructions on how to execute a successful dish. I especially like the fact that she adds some helpful hints at the beginning of each recipe to enhance the cooking experience or to aid in the selection of the best ingredients for the recipe.

I would recommend this cookbook, as it has a selection of vegetarian, pescatarian and meat-lover recipes—something for everyone! An additional bonus is that the recipes are not seasonal and can be made throughout the year. You can have a cicchetti party where people can make a favorite recipe and share it.

As they say in Italian, “Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto”: Eat well, laugh often, love much and, as celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich invites us, “Tutti a tavola a mangiare”—Everyone to the table to eat. Buon appetito!

Review Contributors
  • Luisa Giacometti
  • Gary Gillman
  • Sher Hackwell
  • Sarah Hood
  • Maya Love
  • Sylvia Lovegren
  • Fiona Lucas
  • Elka Weinstein

5. Events of Interest

Compiled by Jane Black, Kesia Kvill, Sarah Hood & Julia Armstrong

Although many museums and historic sites remain closed (including all of Toronto's historic sites), a few are resuming some version of their regular programming:
  • Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site in Nova Scotia is gradually reopening.
  • King's Landing in New Brunswick is fully open, with social distancing measures in place.
  • Some parts of Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg, Ontario, are open.
  • The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa reopens to the public on August 1, with reduced capacity.
  • Hutchison House Museum in Peterborough, Ontario, will be open to the public on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons until September 5. Visitors may choose to have a tour of the museum or enjoy Scottish Tea on the terrace (sittings are at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.), but must register in advance for either. The bookshop is closed, but books can be purchased by phone for pickup.
  • In Hamilton, Ontario, Dundurn National Historic Site is open with modified programming, including some taking place in the Historic Kitchen Garden.
  • The Stratford Perth Museum in Stratford, Ontario, is programming a Summer of Picnics, with various bring-your-own-picnic events on the roster, including one with a Jane Austen theme.
  • Fort Gibraltar in Winnipeg (profiled in our May newsletter) is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday until August 29.
  • Edmonton's Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is open.
  • In Vancouver, Roedde House has reopened with modified activities.

6. International Conferences

Compiled by Kesia Kvill


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.

October 17 to 18 (New York City, New York)
Theme: Making the Local: Place, Authenticity, and Sustainability.
Venue: Marymount Manhattan College. VIRTUAL ONLY!
CFP Deadline: September 17, 2020.

November 13 to 14 (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Theme: Food and the Environment: The Dynamic Relationship Between Food Practices and Nature.
Venue: University of Amsterdam.


May 13 to 15 (Guelph, Ontario) – NOW VIRTUAL 
Theme: Kitchen Table Talk to Global Forum.
Venue: Hosted by the University of Guelph.
Previously submitted paper and panels will still be considered and the call for papers deadline has been extended to 30 September. Zoom or Webex are likely platforms for the conference and previously planned activities will be adapted to this new format.
Of Note: The RWSA is an international association that promotes and advances farm and rural women’s/gender studies in a historical perspective.

June 11 to 14 (Archbold, Ohio)
Theme: Looking Forward … The Next 50 Years.
Venue: Sauder Village.
CFP Deadline: November 15, 2020.
September 7 to 10 (Rome, Italy)
Theme: Eating on the Move (19th to 21st Centuries).
Venue: Roma Tre University.
CFP Deadline: November 30, 2020.
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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