Saturday, January 24, 2009

Culinary HIstory of the Future, Part I

ATLANTA - January 20, 2009. The only composter of its kind on the East Coast is housed at Emory University's Food and Catering Service.  Senior Director Patty Ziegenhorn-Erbach and her staff hosted a Culinary Historians of Atlanta event today to show us how the machine works. Twenty-five of us showed up on this wickedly cold evening to watch lumps of food scraps, coated with enzymes, rotate in a stainless steel hopper. The enzymes break the food scraps down into water and a small amount of organic material. The water falls to the bottom of the hopper, from which it is pumped through a series of filters, and bathed briefly in the glow of a ultra-violet light to kill nasty organisms that might be in residence. The clean (but not potable) water is then flushed down the sanitary sewer and to Atlanta's water plant for further scrubbing.  The eventual plan is to use the water on campus, for watering the beautiful campus landscaping. and cutting down on the university's dependence on the water system. 

Sitting next to the filtering system is a large container of used cooking oil, which is used by "Cliff", the on-campus shuttle system.  The shuttle busses drive up to the dock, pump the oil directly into their fuel tanks and return to their duties with no time wasted going to a gas station. 

We also discussed our plans for 2009. In March, we plan to visit the Soul Food Museum in downtown Atlanta. Stay tuned for more information. In May, we'll discuss the book The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.  Michael Pollan is an influential food writer who will be in Atlanta in March, 2009 for at least two speaking engagements. If you are interested in seeing him in person, you can attend the annual conference of Georgia Organics. Here is the link to their website

We also discussed starting a true membership program, with annual dues of $25 per  person, or $20 for seniors and students. Roger Dickerson has agreed to serve as Treasurer. We also discussed holding a fund raiser either in addition to or instead of membership dues. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Food of Roman Orgies

On a beautiful autumn Saturday last November, we gathered to celebrate the foods of Roman orgies. We met in the pavilion at Woodlands, in Decatur, Georgia. While we feasted on the foods of Ancient Rome, using recipes provided by Christy Seelye-King, we discussed the history that we were eating,  Roger Dickerson read us a long, explicit passage from  Satyricon, reporting on one such event. Deb Duchon gave the culinary biography of Apicius, and Marko Robinson reported on the history of ale and beer.  

Some of the foods that we enjoyed include: olives, grapes, mead, ale, wine, ham, figs, dates, herbed cheese, honey, bread, and broccoli.  This was a family event, and the children in attendance seemed to enjoy having a day in the woods as much as the food.