October 21st, 2005

Dancing Thru

Food Historians: I have found my people!

Yes, I have stumbled, purely by accident, onto the Food Historians web site, and have now subscribed to their journal. More than even being an ethnobotanist, I'm a food historian!

And any place that has an article posted on debunking food myths ("Medieval people ate a lot of spices to hide the taste of rotten meat," and the ever popular "X Person sat on the courthouse steps and ate a tomato to show it was poisonous") will always have my vote.

How did I get here? Well, it was an accident. I was pissed off about such blatant misinformation as a Civil War site stating "We cannot, alas, just go to one of our many period cookbooks and reprint the section on "Thanksgiving Dinner." They did not have a Thanksgiving holiday in anything resembling the way we do now. Despite claims of antiquity going back to the Pilgrims and all, it really wasn't until the 20th century that the notion of having a holiday on (usually) the last Thursday of November was carved in stone." I started working the article that was to blast these folks out of the water (after all, this was the high tide of the Thanksgiving movement, with even Abraham Lincoln declaring an "official day of Thanksgiving" on the last Thursday in November, as opposed to just the governors of the states, and Sarah Josepha Hale pushing it all right and left. I'd pulled out all my original source references, but thought I'd see what was out of the web (though I tend to mistrust web information). After transcribing an actual 1864 (badly) handwritten Thanksgiving menu, I found an interesting-looking link. And ended up... at the web site for the North American Culinary Historian's Organization (NACHO - how absolutely twee... But I'll forgive them.)

Hmm, I didn't see anything listed in their journal archives (MUST eventually order back issues of the journal!) about pre-1850 chocolate candy. Hmmm, I can a cause knocking at my conciousness... And yes, the archives are paper, not actually online. Which in a perverse way I find reassuring. Anyone can post any sort of crap online... Witness the Civil War Thanksgiving article...
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