Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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A culinary tour of the past


Anne Willan and her husband, Mark Cherniavsky, will speak at the symposium.


Jan Longone will order up a plate of culinary Americana with the help of some very contemporary foodies like Anne Willan, Mark Cherniavsky, and Ari Weinzeig.

She ll sprinkle it with a program of American culinary music, and for a finale, orchestrate a day of historic-kitchen hopping at Greenfield Village.

As the curator of American Culinary History at the University of Michigan s William L. Clements Library, she s gathering scholars and those interested in culinary history for the dedication of the Longone Center for American Culinary Research at the William L. Clements Library, and the First Biennial Symposium on American Culinary History set for May 13-15. The center consists of the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive and Americana holdings with culinary content at Clements Library.

Among the notable speakers will be internationally known cooking teacher and writer Anne Willan, who is the founder of Ecole de Cuisine LaVarenne in France, and her husband, Mark Cherniavsky, a bibliophile. The couple are currently writing a culinary history for the University of California Press based on their rare book collection.

(Ms. Willan s most recent book, The Good Cook: 70 Essential Techniques: 250 Step-by-Step Photographs: 350 Easy Recipes, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $40, was nominated for an International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award in the Food Reference/Technical Category.)

Their topic for the symposium, Amelia s Inheritance: Formative Influences on American Cookery: Evidence from England and 18th Century America, refers to the first American cookbook American Cookery by Amelia Simmons 1796. It was a watershed event, said Ms. Willan in a phone interview from California. The original book had recipes with ingredients that were purely American.

Recipes were made with potash, a substance like baking soda, which was the white ashes from the fireplace that they called pearl ash. Cooks combined this with cornmeal to produce foods like corn bread.

The couple will discuss how English or British cooking influenced Early American cooking before 1800. There are remarkably few English cookbooks that were distributed in America, she says, estimating that maybe a half dozen were in circulation. The influence of the rest of Europe was minimal.

Ms. Willan likens English biscuits to American cookies, and English scones to American biscuits. During her presentation she will talk about recipes such as gingerbread ( not the soft kind, but the hard cookie that would keep for months ), apple pie made with dried apples, and pickling, which was important to keeping a supply of food through the winter.

Ms. Willan and Mr. Cherniavsky who split their time between Chateau du Fey in Burgundy, France, and the United States, are antiquarian cookbook collectors. Mr. Cherniavsky will discuss their collection of 3,000 cookbooks, 10 percent of which are considered rare (from the 1500s to the 1700s and 1800s). He notes that recipes acquired a modern form about 100 years ago. This can be traced to Fanny Farmer in 1885, who was called the mother of level

measurement. Until that time, recipes were in prose format.

Ari Weinzeig, founding partner in the Ann Arbor-based Zingerman s Deli, will speak on the topic Almost Lost but Happily Refound: Traditional American Foods at the Start of the 21st Century. This will include Carolina Gold rice, wild rice, free-range meats and fowl, and artisanal breads and cheeses.

Mrs. Longone and her husband, Dan Longone, are long-term antiquarian cookbook dealers. Mr. Longone will give a presentation, Early American Wine-Making, which will include Ohio wine-making. He is founder of the Ann Arbor Wine and Food Society and professor emeritus at University of Michigan.

Mrs. Longone doesn t want people to think that a culinary archive is just cookbooks. The Longone Center includes pamphlets, magazines, graphics, menus, maps, manuscripts, diaries, letters, catalogs, reference works, advertisements, and even culinary songs. As a child actress, Shirley Temple may never have dreamed that she was singing a culinary song with On the Good Ship Lollipop. There are literally thousands of pieces of music with food in the title. These are published songs, says Mrs. Longone. I ve collected everything relative to music and food.

Among these are songs from the 1870s and 1880s written in an effort to start kindergartens or cooking gardens, she said. They taught how to cook and clean house and how to take care of a family.

There were also songs from family musicals, including Revolutionary Tea written about 1800. Today they are teaching the Revolutionary Tea song in schools to teach children about the American Revolution, she says. The songs are a social history.

Other songs include Don t Sit Under the Apple Tree sung by soldiers in World War II. Out of this archive arose the idea of a musicale. Mrs. Longone enlisted Joan Morris of the Musical Theatre Department of the University of Michigan and William Bolcom, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer.

The result is, Ms. Morris and Mr. Bolcom will perform Lime Jello A Culinary Cabaret followed by Historic American Culinary Music with children s songs of the 1870s and 1880s sung by the Michigan State University Children s Choir, directed by Mary Alice Stollak.

Cost of the symposium, which includes all sessions on Friday and Saturday, is $45; meals are individually priced and the musicale is included in the price of $75 for the American Banquet on Saturday, May 14. The Henry Ford/Greenfield Village Tour on May 15 is individually priced. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required. Registration deadline is Friday. Information: call the William L. Clements Library at 734-764-2347.

For a complete schedule of speakers, topics, and events, visit

A culinary history exhibition will be open to the public from 1 to 4:45 p.m. weekdays from May 16 to Sept. 30 in the Great Hall of the Clements Library. The exhibition will include historic culinary books relevant to American culinary history, a 1900 map that shows every dairy farm in the state of New York, an 18th century book featuring maple sugaring, patterns of silverware, wine history, and a sampling of the extensive Longone Center collection.

Kathie Smith is The Blade s food editor. Contact her at: or 419-724-6155.

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