Harvard culinary historian visits DIT


Barbara Ketchum Wheaton (centre) with Dr. Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire (course facilitator), Dr. Frank Cullen, John Clancy and the course participants.

25 September 2013: Harvard culinary historian, Barbara Ketchum Wheaton came to DIT last month to deliver a week-long course on ‘Reading Historic Cookbooks: A Structured Approach’.  Course participants included lecturers in the School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology, and the School of Languages; Doctoral Candidates; and colleagues from GradCam and the Library Service.  

Wheaton is renowned for her leadership in the field of culinary history research for fifty years.   She is Honorary Curator of the culinary collection in the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, where there are more than 20,000 books on cookery, foodstuffs, and the history of cooking and eating.

Her book Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983) won the Prix Littéraire des Relais Gourmands in 1985. This seminal work has also been published in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Japan.

According to Dr. Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire, who facilitated the course in Cathal Brugha Street, in addition to culinary history, her work has also attracted social historians.  “Wheaton’s workshops in reading cookbooks as sources of social history have been attended by food writers, working cooks, historians, and scholars in other fields. This was her first time in Ireland and the course was organised by her fellow long-time symposiast at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery and was funded by DIT’s Staff Development short course (Train the Trainers) scheme. The course was a tremendous success and it is planned to run it as a module in the forthcoming Masters Degree in Gastronomy.”

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