What the Argonauts Ate

Ann Chandonnet

Many of the men (and women) who followed the California Gold Rush didn’t even know how to build a fire–let alone cook. (Jack London was an exception.) The Forty-Niners sustained themselves with simple meals of jackrabbit stew and sourdough flapjacks or baked or stewed beans.

By the era of the Ninety-Eighters, who sought gold in the Klondike and Alaska, instant coffee had been invented; canned goods and dehydrated foods were becoming common. But canned goods make for a heavy pack, so again the sourdough flapjack and the indigestible bean came to the fore.

Ann Chandonnet, a 34-year Alaska resident, will speak about her book Gold Rush Grub From Turpentine Stew to Hoochinoo (University of Alaska Press, 2005), which covers the food of all the rushes on the Pacific Coast. Chandonnet grew up on a farm in New England, and attended graduate school in Madison, Wisconsin. She is a mother, grandmother, gardener and author of more than a dozen books. She is a member of CHoW (the Culinary Historians of Washington, D.C.) and Culinary Historians of Chicago. The only comprehensive book on the subject, Gold Rush Grub won a national educational award. Chandonnet and her husband recently retired to the St. Louis area.

Program hosted at Kendall College.