A Taste of History Culinary Book Club

Culinary Historians of Northern Illinois is partnering with Chillicothe Public Library to present this series of four online book discussions about culinary culture, history, memoirs and biographies, and food. Check out a copy of the book and join us for a conversation!

February 16 @ 7:00 pm — Vibration Cooking: or, The Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl, by Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor (2011 reprint)

Zoom registration: https://bit.ly/3gips52

Vibration Cooking, first published in 1970, is a cookbook/memoir that reads like Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor is sitting across the kitchen table from you, sharing stories and recipes like morsels hot from the cast iron skillet. In 1959 Paris, the 19-year-old Gullah girl from South Carolina quickly realized that the most universal lingua franca is a well-cooked meal. As she recounts her varied life as a chanter, dancer, costume designer, and member of the Sun Ra Solar-Myth Arkestra, she introduces us to a rich cast of characters, anecdotes, and recipes that range from down-to-earth to downright whimsical. “When I cook, I never measure or weigh anything,” she writes; “I cook by vibration.”

We’ll be using the 2011 edition, which features a foreword by Psyche Williams-Forson, placing the book in historical context and discussing Smart-Grosvenor’s approach to food and culture.

Visit/share the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/858335768937977

April 27 @ 7:00 pm — Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver (2017 edition)

Zoom registration: https://bit.ly/3Apb7e4

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a family’s chronicle of struggles and triumphs as they root themselves to their Appalachian farm and adopt a locally-produced diet, vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, the book explores how the agricultural establishment can affect our health and environment for the worse, or for the better—and how a world of choice is in our hands.

We’ll be using the 2017 edition, containing new chapters that take stock of the last decade and how the Kingsolvers’ decision to align their lives with the local food chain has continued to shape their destinies.

Visit/share the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1326854104737411

August 24 @ 7:00 pm — The Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

Zoom registration: https://bit.ly/3VbQFVF

In this post-apocalyptic novel, global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the mid-2020s, and California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water and food shortages to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to survive. Lauren, a teen who suffers from a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions, lives inside a gated community, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. But as her community faces disaster and she sets off on foot into the unknown, she must strive to retain her humanity and direction amidst chaos and change. What begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something more: the birth of a new faith, and a startling vision of human destiny.

Visit/share the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/649887219950196

November 16 @ 7:00 pm — The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, by Sean Sherman

Zoom registration: https://bit.ly/3XcCXUy

Sean Sherman, the Oglala Lakota chef and founder of The Sioux Chef, dispels outdated notions of Native American fare; no fry bread here. Featuring vibrant, healthful plates that embrace venison, duck, blueberries, sage, amaranth, and wildflowers, this volume is a rich education and delectable introduction to modern indigenous cuisine of the Dakota and Minnesota territories. But Sherman’s vision and approach to food travels well beyond those borders, compelling readers to consider the deep roots and contemporary significance of an indigenous diet that connects us all to nature and to each other in direct and profound ways.

Visit/share the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/541637710695576