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Updated 8:30 AM April 16, 2007




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Alphabet soup: American cooking from A-Z

More than 125 items illustrating America's regional and ethnic culinary traditions are on display through June 1 at the Clements Library in the exhibition "A to Z: An Alphabet of Regional and Ethnic Culinary Traditions."
(Image courtesy Clements Library)

It is being held in conjunction with the May 18-20 Second Biennial Symposium on American Culinary History: Regional and Ethnic Traditions, and displays an 1866 African American contribution by Malinda Russell, born a free woman of color, who wrote "A Domestic Cook Book." This only known copy of the first cookbook authored by an African American was published in Paw Paw, Mich.

The displayed examples of cooking range from Armenian, Blue Grass Country, California, Chinese and Dutch to Quaker, Rhode Island, Shaker, South Carolina, Sweden, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Yankee and Zuni.

As curator of the exhibition, Jan Longone says it is foolhardy to think the 125 items on display can convey the diversity of American regional and ethnic culinary traditions. "The depth of the archive is so great that hard choices had to be made to fit the time and space requirements for this display," she says.

From cookbooks to colorful ephemeral advertising, to "The National Cookery Book," published for America's 100th birthday celebration in Philadelphia in 1876 and considered the first truly comprehensive regional American cookbook, items from the University's Longone Center for American Culinary Research lead viewers on an alphabetical tour of foodways that have contributed to the American melting pot.

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