Culinary Historians of Washington, D.C.

Also known as–wait for it–CHoW.

One of the best things about living in the Washington area is that there’s at least one person doing almost every single thing. Think of how much ground the federal government covers (and save the politics for someone else’s blog) and the experts that are drawn here because of it.

About 10 years ago some of those experts–historians and curators from the Smithsonian museums–got together to form this group, well before the Food Channel was a glimmer in some programmer’s eye. In those ten years we’ve never lacked for fascinating speakers and filed trips.

Last Sunday was the first meeting of the 2010-2011 season (we meet on the second Sunday of the month between September and May) and we heard from Dr. Clarissa Dillon who does her primary source research, but likes to get down and dirty and actually try to cook some of those “reciepts” she’s unearthed. She told us that water in colonial America was often suspect, since you couldn’t always tell if it was contaminated. Fermentation was one way to deal with it, and the colonials had a wide range of brewed drinks, from small beer to Jamaica spirit.

We tasted some of her research–English Sack, Cherry Brandy, Shrub, and Turnip Wine (which is about as good as you might expect).

I also like the group because it’s an opportunity to bake, since members often bring snacks based on the speaker’s theme. This time I brought bay sugar sables, adapted from Dorie Greenspan‘s recipe in Baking, From My Home to Yours, and flavored with bay sugar–my own invention. Tune in to future posts for more on bay sugar.

bay sugar flavors the sandy tender shortbreads

Another reason I like CHoW is because I can always use it as an excuse to bake; members will bring refreshments sometimes related to the speaker’s topic. Yesterday I made Bay sugar sables, adapted from Dorie Greenspan‘s recipe and using my own invention–bay sugar. Tune to upcoming posts for more on this brilliant culinary innovation.

About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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1 Response to Culinary Historians of Washington, D.C.

  1. Lori D. says:

    Shortbread was always your specialty!

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