Friday, August 9, 2013

Wishing You Well

This last post does not really relate to anything else I have discussed in my blog during my internship, but it is something I feel the need to discuss since it happened in the midest of my time at the Newberry. It's also a reflection of how sometimes life can change in an instant, that it is unpredictable. Just like you never truly know what you will find in a book until you open it up and read it.
I have had the same best friend since kindergarten, and yes I really do mean best friend. She is currently studying neuroscience at Rhodes College in Memphis, but that's besides the point. I'm not even really wanting to talk about her, I'm wanting to talk more about someone I met through her. My best friend's little brother was born on December 29, 1996, the same day that she stood me up at the skating rink. I still haven't forgiven her. Her brother was the kind that always followed us around, wanting to hang out with the girls who were 6 years his senior and really didn't want anything to do with him. We even duct taped him to a chair once and threw a sheet over him when he was bothering us. I watched this kid grow up, he even lived with my family and I during my freshman year of high school. However he went to California with his dad after a few months and my best friend lived the remainder of our freshman year with me. My best friend's little brother was a handful at times, always needing something to do, pulling things apart and putting them back together. Last year he made the decision to go to school at the Marine Academy in Texas. This is where he really began to grow up, finding structure for the first time in his life really. He had just gotten his driving permit a few weeks ago, before a family trip to the East coast with my best friend and her dad and step mom. I don't think anyone was really prepared for what would happen 3 days after they returned home from the family vacation. My best friend had already gone back to school and I, well I was sitting at home watching 21 Jumpstreet and trying to keep my corgi puppy from biting me. Funny how we remember the moments when our lives are completely altered. My best friend's little brother was out jogging that night and came to a green crosswalk. He had to the right away. At the same time a PT Cruiser and Black Sedan were street racing. At 9:55pm on July 21, 2013 my best friend's little brother was struck and killed by a car. And the worse part was the driver didn't even stop, they just kept going. He was rushed to a local hospital but there was nothing they could do.
I don't think anyone is really prepared for that kind of phone call from their best friend. The kind that makes you drop everything, to be their for a person who has stood by you for 15 years. Getting in a car and driving was the best decision I ever made. Because if history has taught me anything it has taught me that humanity in a time of crisis is more memorable and touching for the good things people do.

Bibliographies: Almost Better for an Historian than an Index

I have come to appreciate bibliographies throughout my research time at the Newberry. I find them to be more helpful than an index in the back of a book when it comes to doing research. When I was looking for cookbooks for my research for the undergraduate seminar I relied heavily on two bibliographies that cataloged cookbooks from the Early Modern Period. I was surprised to find that the University of Chicago actually has an extensive collection of British Cookbooks, ones that you can often times only find elsewhere at the British Library.
By learning how vital bibliographies can be to research, it has made me very particular about how I have constructed the bibliography for the Culinary Historians of Chicago. I want the annotated addition of the book to be simple and to the point, not wanting to go on and on about what is inside because I think that a researcher should get the enjoyment of discovering what lies inside on their own. I want them to feel the same excitement I do every time I open a new book and look to see what is inside. And besides, as Dr. Bucholz once taught me on his 300 level Early Modern England class, you should look at every source that relates to your topic and then decide whether or not you should use it. It's a lesson that I have taken with me wherever I go now, especially when it comes to compiling a bibliography.

Ann Moore:The Fasting Woman of Tutbury

In part of a book published in 1813, I became very interested in a story about a woman by the name of Ann Moore. She was known by many as the Fasting Woman of Tutbury since at the time there wasn't a term for anorexia nervous until Queen Victoria's own doctor coined the phrase. Ann claimed to have eaten nothing between the years 1807 and 1813. I did more research into the matter and was not surprised when I found out that the whole thing had been an elaborate hoax.
Ann was known around Tutbury for consuming small amounts of food, just enough to keep her alive. This was not fully by choice because of the dire finical situation she found herself in. It was believed that she suffered from a disease and the vast majority of people thought that she was living on air alone. In 1812 a physician thought her to be a cheat because of the parallels between her case and another of a girl who was found to be an imposture in Germany.
A watch commenced that lasted from April 21, 1813 to the 30th of that month. It was discovered that Ann was indeed an imposture and she died a few months later.

The Concept of Eating Rabbit Food

During the 1700s and the 1800s George Nicholson was seen as a bit of a revolutionary thinker when it came to food. He is one of the lesser known advocates for animal rights and the idea of having a meat free diet. Nicholson was a printer from Yorkshire who took it upon himself to let the world know the conditions an hardships that animals faced before they appeared on the dinner plate. Two of his publications are located at the Newberry Library. The first one which was published in 1801 titled, The Primeval Diet of Man: Arguments in Favour of Vegetable Food: with Remarks on Man's Conduct to Other Animals, is considered by many to be Nicholson's crowning achievement. It's a piece that provided the reader with valid reasons for why they should cut some meat from their diet. In 1803 Nicholson published, On Food, a counterpart to The Primeval Diet of Man. On Food contains a number of plant based recipes and ideas on how to substitute meat. Nicholson's ideas and recipes were a little ahead of his time, but now the idea of being a vegetarian is appealing to a growing group of people.

Foods of the New World

When the Spanish and other Europeans came to South America and began their conquest of the New World, they discovered some things that were far more valuable than the gold they hoped to find. They discovered new foods that would eventually become major cash crops for Europe and would also change the diets of Europeans forever.
Corn which had been a major crop for Native Americans living in the new Americas, could be cooked in a number of different ways and helped save the new settlers from starvation. It didn't take long for this edible gold to be spread across the world. Potatoes were a crop that was mostly used by Indians in South America to make a potato based bread. The English brought it back to their country in the 1500s and from there it spread to. Scotland and Ireland. It's hard to imagine what Ireland would be like today if it hadn't been introduced to the potato.
Tobacco was a crop of the New World that was set to make England a very wealthy nation. Pilgrims settled along the southern coast of North America and began to grow large plantation of the cash crop that was becoming an addiction in European countries.
Cacao or chocolate, was not altered into what we know as modern day chocolate until it was taken back to the Old World. In the Aztec culture Cacao beans were highly prized and often times used as currency and as a gift to the gods. The cacao beans were usually ground up into an unsweetened beverage that the Aztecs enjoyed.
Other crops discovered in the New World include tomatoes, pineapple, peanuts, sunflowers, squash, vanilla, and quinine.

Agriculture Around the World

Agriculture was the invention that led to the end of the hunter and gathering lifestyle. No longer having to go out in search for food, people were able to settle in one place and cities and towns began to spring up. Agriculture in a way led to the invention of community, the idea of living amongst a group of your peers, succeeding or failing together. Agriculture has changed drastically throughout the years, always altering in order to provide more food for a growing population. After the World Wars a number of books and pamphlets were published regarding agriculture. With European infrastructure destroyed, usable farm land was hard to come by and the fear of starvation was real. Many economists and scientist put forth ideas that could help save agriculture. Canada became a huge agriculture gold mine. Not damaged by the war, the nation still located in North America took steps to encourage people to move out west and cultivate the land, making it farm ready. In a hungry world Canada was finding itself to be a very valuable asset to those who were on the brink of starvation. The U.N. was also putting forth research that suggested what needed to be done in order to help save the starving population of the world. After years of so much destruction no one wanted to see a nothing international crisis, starvation due to poor agriculture and food supply.

What the Indians Ate

Thanks to the Ayers collection at the Newberry there is a plethora of books on Native Americans. They describe in great detail how the Indians dressed, communicated, worked, and especially what they ate. The majority of the North American Indians used hunting and agriculture as their main source of food. I think everyone knows the story of how the Indians taught the pilgrims to farm by planting corn in row and fertilizing by using dead fish. And of course being such nice people the pilgrims repaid the Indians by taking their land forcing them to relocate to reservations.
So what did the Indians really eat? Well if the Indians were part of a coastal tribe they mostly relied on the ocean as their source of food. Indians living on the East coast of the United States had a diet of clams, lobster, and cod while those on the West coast ate salmon and halibut. The best way to prepare fish for a meal was to smoke it over an open fire. Native Americans who roamed on the Great Plains relied on hunting as their main source of protein. Groups of men would venture out into the plains in hopes of killing buffalo, antelope, elk, and deer. Every part of the animal would be used, nothing would be allowed to go to waste. Wild turkey, geese, and duck would also be hunted for poultry and rabbit and squirrel made a nice addition to any stew. No matter where the Indians lived the majority of them ate corn as a staple in their diet. They also raised a number of vegetables that were a great discovery in the New World. Some of these plants include beans, wild rice, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and potatoes. It was often times the duty of the women and children to care for the garden while the men hunted. Gathered food, such as berries, nuts, roots, and greens helped the Indians survive during a harsh winter. All of these foods helped sustain the native population for years before North America became colonized by Europeans.