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Culinary Historians of Chicago studies the history of food and drink in human cultures. Why we procure, prepare and serve the food we do has cultural, sociological, geographical, financial and political influences. We encourage participation from all walks of life: from academics to home cooks, chefs to grill masters, farmers to heirloom gardeners, food scientists to students. Our programs, and those of our sister organization Chicago Foodways Roundtable, are supported by research, fieldwork ...
 
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Cicada vs FungiMatthew Kasson, PhDChicago area is three years away from our next cicada invasion. Meanwhile, we can prepare to help scientists study cicada fungi!Matt Kasson and his lab at West Virginia University are studying the Massospora fungus that infects cicadas. Kasson will be givin us the full story of how this fungi is distributed and how…
 
FOOD IN THE GILDED AGE: What Ordinary Americans Ate with ROBERT DIRKSEmeritus Professor of AnthropologyIllinois State UniversityAmerica’s Gilded Age, the last quarter of the nineteenth century, is renowned for the excesses of robber barons and tycoons. The lavishness of their tables impressed contemporaries and historians alike. But what about the …
 
About the genus Leccinum and other interesting boletesPresented by Beatriz Ortiz-Santana, PhDBeatriz Ortiz-Santana is a Research Scientist and fungarium curator at the Center for Forest Mycology Research (- USDA, Forest Service, Northern Research Station) in Madison, Wisconsin. Ortiz-Santana received her PhD in Biology from the University of Puerto…
 
Chicago Trib’s New Restaurant Critics Exposed!Meet Louisa Chu and Nick KindelspergerTime was we could never get a Chicago food critic to speak to our group; they religiously refused to reveal their identities in public. That is until about three years ago when the Tribune’s esteemed food critic, Phil Vettel, published a story in the paper, complete…
 
Chicago Trib’s New Restaurant Critics Exposed!Meet Louisa Chu and Nick KindelspergerTime was we could never get a Chicago food critic to speak to our group; they religiously refused to reveal their identities in public. That is until about three years ago when the Tribune’s esteemed food critic, Phil Vettel, published a story in the paper, complete…
 
Passion for Persia Showcasing a Dazzling Culinary HistoryPresented by Naomi DuguidTraveler, writer, photographer, cookHere in the west, though we may know a little about the great Persian empires of times past, we have been cut off from an appreciation of Persian culture by complicated geopolitics. And we’re not familiar with the old deep-rooted co…
 
Viennese Cuisine Prior to 1938Susanne Belovari, ArchivistThe famous Wiener Küche had long been a collective culinary tradition of Jews and non-Jews alike. It was perhaps the perfect example, in an imperfect and Anti-Semitic city, of two formerly distinct groups moving towards each other and integrating while daily creating, cooking, and eating one …
 
Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah (Shore) with Flo SelfmanHaving been a top singing star, Dinah Shore became a pioneer television personality with “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show,” which showcased her distinctive voice and relaxed Southern charm from 1951 to 1963. In 1970, she returned to television as host of “Dinah’s Place,” an NBC morning show tha…
 
The Biology and Evolution of Rust Fungi M. Catherine Aime, PhDIn terms of species numbers the rust fungi (Pucciniales) are an incredibly successful lineage. Together, the more than 7000 described species form the largest known monophyletic group of plant pathogens. All are obligate parasites of vascular plants including agricultural, forest and orn…
 
The Taco Truck: How Mexican Street Food Is Transforming the American CityRobert Lemon PhDAuthor, Geographer, Documentary Film MakerIcons of Mexican cultural identity and America’s melting pot ideal, taco trucks have transformed cityscapes from coast to coast. The taco truck radiates Mexican culture within non-Mexican spaces with a presence—sometime…
 
The Fungi Involved with Devil's Stovepipes at Mt. Baldy, Indiana Dunes National ParkPeter Avis, PhD from University of MaineIn 2013, a young boy fell in a hole at Mt. Baldy. Fortunately, he survived and the pursuit to understand the formation of these holes (aka Devil's Stovepipes) ensued. This presentation will cover an overview of the research co…
 
Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of BarbecuePresented by Adrian MillerFood Writer, Attorney, Certified Barbecue JudgeJoin us as James Beard Award-winning author Adrian Miller discusses the history of African American barbecue culture from his book, Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue. Black Smoke des…
 
What's in a Name? Mycology EtymologyAnna HenningMany scientific names for fungi (known as binomial nomenclature) are difficult enough to pronounce, let alone understand. Have you ever wondered what Craterellus means, or why turkey tails are in the genus Trametes? Knoweledge can be challenging to retain if we don't have a framework for understanding…
 
Pizzeria Uno and the Mysterious Origins of Deep-Dish PizzaPeter Regas, PizzaHistoryBook.comWho invented deep-dish pizza? Is there a more controversial question in Chicago food history? There’s little doubt the pizzeria at 29 East Ohio Street in Chicago- originally named “The Pizzeria” later renamed “Pizzeria Uno”- served the original deep-dish pizz…
 
Ravinia Music Under the Stars Around the WorldAn Archives Access Project Courtesy of the Illinois Secretary of StatePresented bySteve Gianni, Project Archivist for Ravinia Park CollectionsNancy Webster, Archivist of the Highland Park Archives and Local History Collections at the libraryThis project has been a journey of discovery through the baseme…
 
Linking DNA to the microscopeTimothy James PhDIn the past twenty years the field of mycology has been revolutionized by studies that use DNA detected in the environment to reveal a hidden diversity that exceeds the diversity that has been formally described. In other words, what is present in the pages of journals and cabinets of herbaria is only t…
 
The Making of James Beard, An American LegendPresented by John Birdsall, Author,The Man Who Ate Too MuchFood of the past that comes to us through recipes and cookbooks can appear to be fixed evidence of what generations before us ate, their tastes and preferences. John Birdsall says that his research for The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James …
 
Shooting Spores: Understand the Physics of the Most Amazing Apparatuses on EarthPresented by Anne Pringle, PhDFungi use spores to move between habitats and spore dispersal is critical to their success. Fungi use an astonishing array of apparatuses and strategies to move their progeny: sacs filled with fluid that explode like water balloons, collaps…
 
How the Frugality of Rural Foodways Reshaped this Nationally Acclaimed ChefPresented by Vivian HowardChef, Author, PBS HostVivian Howard moved from New York back to her rural hometown to open a fine-dining restaurant that she hoped would reshape the palates of eastern North Carolina. But an encounter with collard kraut and a trip to “America’s larg…
 
Illuminating Fungi: the Science of Fungal Bioluminescencewith Brian Perry PhD Fungal bioluminescence was first described by Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.), and continues to fascinate and puzzle scientists today. While over 100 species of fungi are known to produce luminescent mushrooms or mycelium, the chemical and genetic basis of the light-producing …
 
Swedish Pancakes for Breakfast?Presented by B. Marcus L. CederströmFolkloristWhy do we eat the things we eat? And how do those things change due to migration?This talk explores what the foods we eat can tell us about immigration, identity, and Nordic-American life in the Upper Midwest, by focusing on coffee, lutefisk, and, of course, Swedish pancak…
 
The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American FoodAn interview with Chef Marcus SamuelssonConducted by culinary historian and food writer Donna PierceBlack cooking has always been more than “soul food,” with flavors tracing to the African continent, to the Caribbean, all over the United States, and beyond.Join us as internationally acclaimed chef …
 
Thoughts on the Origins of Pizzerias in America and Chicagowith Peter RegasPizzaHistoryBook.comIn the past, the historical consensus was the first licensed pizzeria in America was opened in 1905 at 53 Spring St. in New York City by a young Italian immigrant named Gennaro Lombardi. However, in 2019 at the U.S. Pizza Museum in Chicago, Peter Regas ch…
 
Mushroom Preservation: How to preserve, store and enjoy yourforaged bounty for year-round use with Trent and Kristen BlizzardWhen the rains come the mushrooms often come out in abundance. If you do not want all those fresh mushrooms to go to waste, what can you do with them? Learn tips & techniques to preserve your fresh mushrooms from Trent and Kr…
 
What's in a Name? Understanding nomenclature and name changesPresented by Patrick Leacock, PhDOur current system of naming started 267 years ago with Carl Linnaeus. He gave us Agaricus (gilled fungi) and Boletus (pored fungi) and nine other genus names for 89 species of fungi. Later Fries and Persoon and others published lots more scientific names.…
 
Gordon Sinclair, Live!An interview with the Chicago culinary iconconducted by award-winning food writer and publisherMichael GebertThe following information appeared in The Chicago Food Encyclopedia, University of Illinois Press, 2017, and was authored by Barbara Revsine.Gordon Sinclair was working in public relations when a psychic predicted he wo…
 
An Onion in My Pocket, My Life with VegetablesPresented by Deborah MadisonThanks to her beloved cookbooks and groundbreaking work as the chef at Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, Deborah Madison, though not a vegetarian herself, has long been revered as this country’s leading authority on vegetables. She profoundly changed the way generations of …
 
How Trader Joe’s Changed the Way America EatsPresented by Susie WyshakDiscover Trader Joe’s key role in introducing fun and unusual foods into the American diet decades ago, when the company was already encouraging the non-health food store shopper to try “better for you” versions of already-popular foods. Wyshak compares items featured in a 1982 f…
 
Women in the Kitchen, 12 Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We EatAnne WillanWomen cookbook writers have had an enormous influence on the way we eat today. In her latest book, Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today, Anne Willan profiles twelve of these women–from Hannah Woo…
 
Sweet Greeks: First Generation Immigrant Confectioners in the HeartlandPresented by Ann Flesor BeckGus Flesor came to the United States from Greece in 1901. His journey led him to Tuscola, Illinois, where he learned the confectioner's trade and opened a business that still stands on Main Street. Sweet Greeks sets the story of Gus Flesor's life as a…
 
Commercial Cordyceps BreedingPresented by William Padilla-BrownOver the past 2 years a select handful of individuals have been developing breeding techniques for commercial Cordyceps militaris strains. Follow each step from the forest to the lab and cultivate an understanding of the breeding process for this beloved fungi.WILLIAM PADILLA-BROWNFound…
 
No Ketchup! Why Dennis Foley Ate 50 Hot Dogs in 50 DaysPresented by Dennis Foley“The basic Chicago dog has its own ingredients,” said Dennis Foley about the “Magnificent Seven” of mustard, onions, relish, tomatoes, pickle (or cucumber), sport peppers and celery salt that should top a dog with snap in a steamed bun.The Chicago-style Hot Dog is fit f…
 
What a Waste! Here’s what the world is doing to recover, reduce and recycle food wastePresented by Andrew SmithCulinary Historians, Author, EditorDon’t hold your nose! We’re not going to trash-talk you. Instead we’re going to offer you some savory food for thought when Andy Smith, one of our nation’s most esteemed culinary historians lifts the lid …
 
Western Burn MorelsTrent and Kristen BlizzardMorel mushrooms are famous for thriving in Western forests the year after a wild fire. Join us and learn how to locate and collect these edible fungi. Locating ideal burn morel terrain starts online with topographic and satellite maps. Other factors that affect your likelihood of hunting success include …
 
Detangling the Wood Wide Web: Assessing Functionality of Common Mycelial NetworksWillow AbshireSimsWhat lies beneath our feet when we walk through a forest? A massive web of mycelium runs underground, connecting trees by the roots in a network commonly referred to as the “Wood Wide Web”. But what do we know about this “Wood Wide Web”? Perhaps more …
 
An Invasion of Gastronomic Proportions: My Adventures with Chicago Animals, Human and OtherwisePresented by Mike Sula, Senior Writer, The Chicago ReaderMike’s favorite stories were about the people on the edges of the city’s food system; the oddballs, the uncelebrated, the immigrants cooking for their own—and especially the people willing to break …
 
Fat Rascals: Dining at Shakespeare’s TablePresented by John TuftsActor, AuthorIf you ever wanted to see Shakespeare sizzle, now”s your chance. Join our “Zoominar” as actor/cook John Tufts dishes up an historically savory stew of Elizabethan and Tudor Culinary delights that the Bard himself whetted our appetites for in his iconic plays.A nationally …
 
Illinois Mycological on iNaturalistPatrick Leacock, PhDJoin us for a Zoom session with local mycologist Patrick Leacock. We will be looking through and discussing recent observations posted to the popular app and website: iNaturalist.org. Mushrooms, polypores, boletes, and chanterelles are some of the fungi being found this summer.The club project …
 
A Path to KnowingAll the Mushrooms of Illinoiswith Stephen RussellStephen will discuss his efforts to create a statewide biodiversity survey of macrofungi from Indiana and how these efforts can be applied to neighbors in Illinois. Primary topics will include integrating citizen scientists, online forays, specimen collection, and how anyone in Illin…
 
The Rule of RumPresented by Cynthia ClampittFood historian Cynthia Clampitt shares the reason rum arose where it did and when it did, as well as how pirates got involved and who really said “yo, ho, ho” (not the pirates), but also explains how rum was involved in uniting the 13 Colonies, why it was one of the issues that led to the American Revolut…
 
Chicago's Live Poultry Shops, FoodCultura - University of Chicago, Fall, 2019Paige Resnick exploring Chicago’s live poultry shops and the many issues associated with selecting and preparing one’s own chicken.There was a technical error in audio recording affecting its quality. It is posted to maintain the historical record of this event.The collabo…
 
Comparative Food Choices, FoodCultura - University of Chicago, Fall, 2019Cleo Schoeplein and Liz Rice present their work comparing food choices in South Shore and Albany Park, two very different Chicago neighborhoods.There was a technical error in audio recording affecting its quality. It is posted to maintain the historical record of this event.Th…
 
16,000 years of Global Potato HistoryPresented by Raghavan IyerAuthor, TeacherOur speaker, Raghavan Iyer, is the author of “Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked–and Fried, Too!: A Celebration of Potatoes in 75 Irresistible Recipes.” And he’s going to have one heck of a spudworthy program for us. Here’s his tater-tot preview: “The fourth largest crop …
 
Día de Muertos - Day of the Dead, FoodCultura, Fall, 2019Eli Bec’s discussion of ofrendas prepared for Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead altars) and her own personal ofrendaThe collaboration included Foodcultura: The Art and Anthropology of Cuisine, a team-taught course offered during the autumn of 2019 at the University of Chicago. The students, ind…
 
Roeser's Bakery, FoodCultura - University of Chicago, Fall, 2019Yoon-Jee Choi’s analysis of cakes from Roeser’s Bakery through the eyes of a Bauhaus historian.The collaboration included Foodcultura: The Art and Anthropology of Cuisine, a team-taught course offered during the autumn of 2019 at the University of Chicago. The students, individually or…
 
Cotton Candy as Art, FoodCultura, Fall, 2019Alana Ferguson’s musings on cotton candy as an art form.The collaboration included Foodcultura: The Art and Anthropology of Cuisine, a team-taught course offered during the autumn of 2019 at the University of Chicago. The students, individually or in groups, proposed projects using approaches of anthropol…
 
Public and Private Dining Experiences, FoodCultura, Fall, 2019Maisie Watson and Daniel Simantob explored the intersection of public and private dining experiences at Sinhá, a Brazilian home-restaurant in Chicago and in their own apartment.The collaboration included Foodcultura: The Art and Anthropology of Cuisine, a team-taught course offered durin…
 
Understanding rot: from present day ecology, to fossil fungi and ancient geologyTrue woody trees evolved approximately 360 million years ago, and since that time wood has become an important part of forests, influencing soil formation, carbon cycling and many aspects of our current economy. Fungi are the only organisms that have evolved the ability…
 
During World War II, some farmers in Marengo, Illinois negotiated with a large food corporation and federal agencies to make local farm fields into restricted, prison-like spaces. When the Curtiss Candy Company brought Japanese-Americans from the Tule Lake Internment Camp in California to cultivate and pick potatoes in 1943, the Marengo community s…
 
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