American Ways Of Cooking and Eating
The Longone Culinary Archive—A Sumptuous Collection of our nation's eating habits—finds a home in the Clements Library
By Joanne Nesbit
|Jan and Dan Longone (Photo courtesy Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)|
"In 1876," Jan Longone says, "foreign visitors to the American Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia asked, `Have you no national dishes?'
"That same question was still being asked of us 100 years later," says Janice (Jan) Longone. "We knew the answer was a resounding yes! Thus, we built this collection."
The collection she refers to comprises tens of thousands of items about American food, probably the largest slice of such Americana in the world. It is now housed at the University's William Clements Library, and constitutes the ingredients of the Janice Bluestein Longone Center for American Culinary Research.
Until recently, however, the Ann Arbor home of Jan and Dan Longone fairly bulged with the collection amassed in a lifetime of gathering literature and artifacts on cooking and eating.
The Longone Center's collection is available to scholars and others interested not only in culinary history, but myriad related topics. The archive includes items from the 16th to 20th centuriesbooks, pamphlets, magazines, graphics, menus, maps, manuscripts, diaries, letters, catalogues, reference works, advertisements and other ephemera. These are complemented by and, in turn, complement the internationally treasured Americana holdings of the Clements Library.
"Dan and I have spent the greater part of our adult lives collecting books and other printed material we judged significant to defining an American culinary history," says Longone, who will serve as curator of the Center (Daniel Longone is professor emeritus of chemistry).
"Because of the unusual depth and breadth of the collection, it would be virtually impossible to duplicate today," she adds. "We felt it would be a disservice to scatter it through auction or catalog, especially when universities are beginning to appreciate culinary history as a valued intellectual discipline."
In addition to her curatorial duties and her book business, Longone is a writer, lecturer, teacher, consultant and radio commentator in the general field of gastronomy. She has worked extensively on culinary history exhibitions and collection development. She wrote the entries on American cookbook history and a number of biographies for the Oxford Companion to Food and is an associate editor for this volume and for the forthcoming Oxford Encyclopedia on Food and Drink in America.
The magnificent collection of American imprints on all aspects of culinary history includes the first and second editions of the first American cookbook, Amelia Simmons's American Cookery of 1796. All the major and minor figures of the 19th and early 20th century American food and beverage scene are represented.
The archive also contains many items on the history of hotels, inns, taverns, restaurants and diners; supplementing these are the Clements's travel collection and graphics division.
Regional and ethnic contributions abound. The Center has first editions of, among others, The New England Cookery (1808); the first household manual in America written by an African American, The House-Servant's Directory (1827); Everybody's Cook and Receipt Book: But Particularly Designed for Buckeyes, Hoosiers, Wolverines, Corncrackers, Suckers (1842); The Southern Farmer (1842); The Carolina Housewife (1847), and the first Jewish cookbook in America, Jewish Cookery Book (1871).
The Center also has several thousand "charity" cookbooks, beginning with the first (1864), with more than one thousand being pre-1920. All manner of children's cookbooks from the 19th century on are available, and special topics like vegetarianism, and how-to subjects like baking, can be studied.
Among the other major topics covered are service and servants, markets, etiquette, food industries, biographies of culinary personages, culinary bibliographies, food and the arts, food and the media, gastronomy, dictionaries, encyclopedias and other reference works.
Captured by items in the collection are war, recessions, the Depression, changing roles of women and children, the westward expansion, immigration, increasing industrialization and the production of food, and the introduction of new foods, techniques and equipment. Add to this list the role of advertising in food consumption, the change in American society from the farm to the city, Prohibition, protest movements, charitable and welfare policy, etiquette and manners, dining customs, hotel and restaurant menus and practices and holiday celebrations, and you have just a part of the story that culinary history reveals about America and its people.
Jan Longone began moving the collection to the Clements in 2000, when she was named curator of American culinary history. "The transfer should be complete by May 2005," she says, "and the University and the Clements will celebrate it with the Center's First Biennial Symposium on American Culinary History on May 13-15, 2005."
Several of the country's American culinary history experts will discuss topics that will include "European Books Seminal to American Cuisine," "Traditional American Foods at the Start of the 21st Century," "How to Set a Table in the Gilded Age," "Early American Wine Making: The 19th Century Experience," "Defining an American Cuisine," "What is American About American Food and Drink?" and "Historic American Culinary Music," featuring the composer William Bolcom and his wife, Joan Morris, of the School of Music, and the Michigan State University Children's Choir.
For more information about the Janice Bluestein Longone Center for American Culinary Research and the symposium, visit http://www.clements.umich.edu/culinary/Website%201/index.html
To view video about the
Longone Center for American Culinary Research, visit
The following menu includes recipes from Amelia Simmons's American Cookery (1796), the first American-written cookbook published in the United States, and an American Indian succotash dish from The National Cookery Book by the Women's Centennial Committee of the International Exhibition of 1876, Philadelphia, published for the nation's 100th birthday.
Simmons worked as a domestic in Colonial America and gathered her cookery expertise from first-hand experience. Her uniquely American recipes used corn meal for dishes like Indian pudding, Johnny-cake and slapjacks. Other recipes were for making pumpkin pudding and winter squash pudding and for brewing spruce beer.
Turkey: Simmons recommended a hen turkey, saying it "is higher and richer flavor'd, easier fattened and plumper."
Stuffing: "Grate a wheat loaf, one quarter of a pound butter, one quarter of a pound salt pork, finely chopped, 2 eggs, a little sweet marjoram, summer savory, parsley and sage, pepper and salt (if the pork be not sufficient,) fill the bird and sew up."
Side Dishes: Once the bird is done, "serve up with boiled onions and cranberry-sauce, mangoes [a term for a pickled green melon in those daysJN], pickles or celery."
Cranberries: "Stewed, strained and sweetened, put into paste No. 9 [a pan], and bake gently."
"A Nice Indian Pudding3 pints scalded milk, 7 spoons fine Indian meal [corn meal], stir well together while hot, let stand till cooled; add 7 eggs, half pound raisins, 4 ounces butter, spice and sugar, bake one and half hour."
"GingerbreadThree pound sugar, half pound butter, quarter of a pound of ginger, one doz. eggs, one glass rose water, rub into three pounds flour. Shape to your fancy, bake 15 min."
"Succotash (an Indian dish). Boil a quarter of a peck of beans and a dozen ears of corn. When cooked, pour off the water, leaving only enough for gravy. Cut the corn from the cob, stir in a lump of fat, and season with pepper and salt. This is an Indian dish, and the above is the simple method in which the red man [sic] prepared it. The modern improvement is to mix butter and flour instead of the lump of fat, and to add tomato ketchup while it is stewing."
Here's a dumpling recipe from Everybody's Cook and Receipt Book: But Particularly Designed for Buckeyes, Hoosiers, Wolverines, Corncrackers, Suckers (1842) by Philomelia Ann Maria Antoinette Hardin. ("Corncrackers" was a nickname for Kentuckians; "Suckers" for Illinoisans.) Hardin began by advising readers how to get ready for holiday guests by using pokeweed root "boiled in water and mixed with a quantity of molasses, [and] set about the kitchen, pantry, etc. in large deep plates ... [to] kill cockroaches in great numbers and finally rid the house of them."
"Buckeye dumplings: Take of currents and shred suet eight ounces each, grated bread four ounces, four spoonfuls of flour, a considerable quantity of grated lemon-peel, a little sugar and powdered pimento; mix it with four eggs and a sufficiency of milk into twelve dumplings, and fry them a fine yellow brown."