Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods

Presented by Jennifer Jordan, author and educator

Each week during the growing season, farmers’ markets offer up such delicious treasures as brandywine tomatoes, cosmic purple carrots, pink pearl apples, and chioggia beets—varieties of fruits and vegetables that are prized by home chefs and carefully stewarded by farmers from year to year. These are the heirlooms and the antiques of the food world, endowed with their own rich histories. While cooking techniques and flavor fads have changed from generation to generation, a Ribston Pippin apple today can taste just as flavorful as it did in the eighteenth century. But how does an apple become an antique and a tomato an heirloom? Jennifer A. Jordan examines the ways that people around the world have sought to identify and preserve old-fashioned varieties of produce. In doing so, Jordan shows that these fruits and vegetables offer a powerful emotional and physical connection to a shared genetic, cultural, and culinary past.

Jennifer A. Jordan, author of Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods (Univ. of Chicago Press, May 2015). Jordan is professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is also the author of Structures of Memory: Understanding Urban Change in Berlin and Beyond. (Stanford Univ. Press, 2006),. as well as numerous scholarly articles on topics ranging from kitchen gardens and collective memory, to apples and German national identity, to the cultural meanings of dumplings. Her newest research delves deeper into two kinds of edible landscapes—historical kitchen gardens, and the wild landscapes where people forage for food. Her research always addresses the ways that the stories we tell about the past shape the world around us—whether in orchards and vegetable gardens (in her latest book), or in the urban landscape of Berlin (in her earlier research). She has been a Fulbright scholar, a senior scientist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and a fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Saturday, September 12, 2015 at 10:00 AM
Kendall College, School of Culinary Arts
900 N. North Branch Street, Chicago
(Map, directions and parking)
Cost: $3. Free to Kendall students and faculty with ID.

This program is hosted by the Chicago Foodways Roundtable. To reserve, please e-mail: culinaryhistorians@gmail.com.