By Lesley Parilla, Cataloger, Field Book Project
|Page from field book of Donald Erdman, that includes a recipe for pickled herring. Smithsonian Institution Archives. RU 007428, Box 1, Folder 1.|
Food is often a topic in the field books. It’s clear that for many collectors, food is an important part of the day, and worth recording. We’ve found grocery lists, restaurant menus, descriptions of meals, and even recipes. Collectors’ opinions can be surprisingly strong when describing their daily intake. We thought we’d share a few of our more recent foodie reference finds.
Several field collectors show an interest in local eating habits. In “Field journal of Henry Cushier Raven in Singapore, Java and Borneo and vicinity, dated 22 February 1912 to 2 November 1914” Raven begins to use local terminology for meals (makan). Entomologist Edward Chapin refers to eating “onces”, a Chilean term for tea time, nineteen times in his field book documenting his work in Chile during 1945.
Others voice their opinions on local favorite dishes. Doris Cochran states in her “Travelog of 1962-1963 South American trip”, that:
[Jan. 20, 1963] The highlight of the day was the 8PM dinner at El Pulpo, the little Italian restaurant on the corner below our hotel. Boiled octopus (el pulpo) with a sauce of olive oil & hot red pepper -much over-rated, I think, as it was quite rubbery in texture & flavor, but also rather like the muscle of an oyster.
In “Notes accompanying collection of useful plants made by W. J. Fisher at [Kodiak] in 1899” Fisher is so fond of a local fruit he acclaims it “our most esteemed berry.”
Our most esteemed berry. Makes delicious jelly. The Aleuts add a small portion of these berries to their preserved Saranas to impart to it the fragrance of these berries. On account of their infrequency these berries command at least quadruple the price of all other berries.
Perhaps the most surprising is how dramatically meals in during field collecting trips can vary. In “Colombian trip, 1944”, Ellsworth P. Killip describes the following meal.
Instituto all day. Perez Arbelaez came about 7, giving me a few specimens and lending his copy of the Mutis paintings index. Then a drink at the Grenada and a very big dinner on [[him ?]] at the French restaurant, Normandie. 15 plates of hors d'oeuvres followed by 15 more of mainly meats. Soup & camembert[sic] followed. Was too completely stuffed to feel like doing anything more so went home and to bed.
These quotes were found in recently transcribed field books. Once again, we’d like to thank the Smithsonian Transcription Center volunpeers for making the content accessible.