Historical Food Programs                                                               
* = Speakers Bureau - New Jersey Council for the Humanities

New Jersey Programs

Food and Fun Along the Jersey Shore
Learn about the assortment of foods that have been associated with the Jersey Shore over the years such as salt water taffy and clam fritters. The foods identified with the Atlantic shoreline along with the lesser known Delaware River and Bay coastline will also be explored. We will also talk about the various summer activities that have been connected with the Jersey shoreline.

Peachy-Keen in New Jersey
The juicy sun-kissed peach captures the flavor of summer and is one of the most popular fruits of the season. A native of China, the peach was first introduced to the New World by Spanish explorers in 1571. By the 1600’s peaches had become an important crop in New Jersey. Learn the history and folklore of this New Jersey summertime favorite.

The New Jersey Cranberry *
Cranberries are known by many names, such as, bitter berry, bear berry and the marsh apple. They are among the few fruits indigenous to the United States. Native Americans were using cranberries as food, medicine, and dye long before the Europeans arrived. Cranberries have been an important crop for New Jersey since the 19th century. Learn the history of these tart berries and why they were so important. We will also discuss New Jersey's contribution to their cultivation. Early American recipes will be discussed.

Blueberries - New Jersey's Wonder Fruit *
The cultivated blueberry has its roots in the Pinelands of New Jersey. Elizabeth White along with Dr. Fredrick Coville, proved that the “swamp huckleberry” could be cultivated. Learn the history of this fascinating berry and the contributions New Jersey horticulturist Elizabeth White of Whitesbog made to their cultivation in the early 1900s in Burlington County. Today the blueberry is touted as the wonder fruit with a host of healthful benefits. Study the history, health benefits and a variety of ways to prepare and savor these berries.

The Jersey Tomato - From Cherry to Beefsteak *
Everyone loves the Jersey Tomato! Discover where the tomato originated and why it became one of New Jersey’s favorite crops. Find out when New Jersey was known for its tomato packing industry and what happened to that industry. Did you know that tomatoes were considered poisonous at one time, and it was a New Jersey resident who decided to prove everyone wrong? Learn about heirloom varieties, modern hybrids and the folklore attached to this fruit.

New Jersey Swine - Bringing Home the Bacon
New Jersey pigs. or swine as they are called. were much sought after in Colonial and Early America. There was a need for lard and meat that could be put up for the winter, and New Jersey had the biggest and best swine. Learn why the New Jersey swine was so special. The Burlington Ham, also known as the Newbold Ham, had the reputation of being the best tasting ham. Find out more about this little known and forgotten New Jersey delicacy.

Apples - Dumplings, Cider and Jack
Apples, a fruit brought to the United States by the Dutch, found a perfect home in the Garden State. Many varieties were grown in the rich New Jersey soil, some of which can still be found in our state's orchards. Discover why the apple was so important to early Americans and what role New Jersey played in the growth and production of apple products such as, apple cider and applejack. Learn about some of the different varieties of apples and what food and beverages are made from this versatile fruit.

Historical Food Programs - General

The Harvest Season
Autumn was a season of hard work for early Americans. Neighbors joined together to help each other during harvest time, numerous hands were needed to butcher, preserve and prepare many foods. School was canceled for days in order that children could help their parents with the harvest chores. The fruits of one’s labor were now to be realized as it was also a time of feasting and recreation. Learn how our forefathers prepared for the long winter ahead while celebrating the harvest season.

Early American Beverages
In early America the list of store bought beverages was limited. Today’s customers choose from at least 100 varieties of drinks in the local super market. This was not so in earlier days. Learn what homemade drinks our forefathers favored. Did you know that tea and coffee were once very expensive refreshments? Why was apple cider one of the most important beverages? Discover when iced tea, seltzer water and root beer became popular drinks.

Root Cellars and Ice Houses
Winter was a very difficult time for our forefathers. There were no refrigerators or freezers to rely on for back-up food nor were there supermarkets to purchase weekly food supplies. The root cellar provided a means to preserve fruits and vegetables for the long winter ahead. The icehouse kept food cool long before the invention of the refrigerator. Learn the importance of the root cellar and the icehouse and other ways our ancestors preserved food.

Remedies from the Kitchen
Learn some of the history and folklore of home remedies. Long before pharmacies people concocted their own remedies for everything from coughs and sore throats to hiccups, and hangovers. Our ancestors relied mainly on everyday foods that could be found in the kitchen or garden such as honey, spices, onions, garlic, and herbs. Some of the information you will learn today is practical, some will be humorous and some will be downright bizarre.

Note: This workshop is not meant to take the place of your medical practitioner’s advice .

Favorite Foods and Libations of Presidential Families
Today we will put aside our partisan political views and look at the lighter side of the presidential office. Judith Krall-Russo will talk about some of the favorite foods and beverages of past presidential families. Learn how the Presidents entertained at State dinners and how they entertained family and friends. Did you know that George Washington loved honey, and Martha had a great fondness for cake? A favorite beverage of President Garfield was tea; he even had his own recipe for an herb tea that included catnip. Thomas Jefferson did not invite more than 12 guests for dinner. Come learn about other past Presidential families and their favorite fare.

The Expressive Apron
Historically, the apron has been a symbol of a woman’s relationship with the kitchen. An apron can be as simple as a towel wrapped around the waist or an elaborate covering of lace and eyelet. It can also be an “album” containing memories of family and past celebrations. This program invites attendees to express their memories of the apron and what this humble article means to them.

Ms. Krall-Russo brings her apron collection for people to view and try on. Come take a trip down memory lane.

Foods of the Bible
In the land of milk and honey there were also figs, dates, hyssop, and artichokes. Many of these items we take for granted in today’s abundant society. Learn how various foods were prepared in ancient times and how mealtime in Bible days differs from today. There will be a display of various fruits, vegetables, beans and spices.

Colonial and Victorian Christmas Customs
Decorations of holly and mistletoe, gingerbread and caroling, these are just a few of the Christmas customs that have been handed down from earlier times. Learn the similarities and differences between a Colonial Christmas and a Victorian Christmas celebration. Discover what foods were prepared and enjoyed as part of the holiday festivities.

Winter Holidays
Winter — when the days are short and the nights are long. This is the perfect time to bring family and friends together for warm festivities. Learn the history, customs, and foods of various winter celebrations, including, Victorian Christmas, Hanukkah, Ancient Rome’s Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice.

The African Influence in Foods
Okra, black-eyed peas, and yams are a few of the foods brought to this continent by the African slaves. The influence of African cooking can be seen in the cuisines of the Caribbean, Brazil, New Orleans, and our Deep South. Join us to learn how Africa influenced and inspired many of our favorite dishes.

Tea Programs

Matcha Tea Meditation Workshop
A Workshop in Mindfulness This workshop is inspired by the Japanese Tea Ceremony and other practices of mindfulness. The simple act of making tea can become a meditation - a time for peace, clarity and focus. Included in the workshop is a tea ceremony demonstration, hands on experience - creating a small flower arrangement, designing inspiration cards, making and sipping tea.

History of English Tea
Discover the fascinating history of this much–loved beverage! Tea was first introduced to England in the 17th century. At first it was used for medicinal purposes and sold in London’s early coffee houses. Only when Catherine of Braganza (an avid tea drinker) of Portugal married England’s Charles II did tea become a social beverage. In 1840, Anna the 7th Duchess of Bedford is credited with inventing the custom of Afternoon Tea, a tradition that was embraced by Queen Victoria. Understand the difference between High Tea and Afternoon Tea and learn proper tea etiquette and customs.

Tea Traditions from Around the World
Let’s take a tea trip around the world and discover various tea customs and rituals. We will start where it all began – China – and travel through such countries such as India, Japan, Russia, Turkey, and the British Isles. Learn how various cultures celebrate the wonderful tradition known as tea-time.

On display will be an array of tea accoutrements including a Russian samovar, Chinese Gong Fu tea set, Turkish teapot and Tibetan tea bowl.

Tea and the Reading of Tea Leaves
Discover the history of this ancient beverage and why it has become such a well-liked beverage. Learn how, over the centuries, the reading of tea leaves has become a popular and fascinating pastime of fortune tellers and seers. Find out how to "read" tea leaves and the meaning behind various symbols. This is a fun and informative lecture.

Tea and the Mad Hatter
Remember Alice and the Mad Hatter’s Tea party? In the 1860s when Lewis Carol wrote his Alice books, tea gatherings were very popular with people of all classes. Today we will not only learn the history of this much loved beverage but also some of Lewis Carol’s social comments on the Victorian Age. Proper teaetiquette will be discussed. Wear your most fabulous hat.

Tea  Knowledge – A Basic Tea Primer
Tips on Buying , Brewing, and Storing Tea for the Professional and Non-professional

Tea is now all the rage.  Television and newspapers tout the pleasures and health benefits of drinking tea.  Companies tell you to drink white tea, green tea, oolong tea and flavored tisanes. (By the way, what is a "tisane"?)

Today we will discover the differences among teas and what countries are noted for their tea growing traditions.   Learn what to look for when buying loose tea and tea bags.  Did you know that each tea has its own recipe for brewing in order to bring out its best flavor and aroma?   You will learn methods of properly brewing different teas as well as the correct storage methods to preserve the wonderful taste and aroma. There will be a brewing demonstration and a tasting of several teas.

Note : Limited attendees. Special time frame and program fee.

Drink to Your Health – Tea or Coffee?
Almost every day, tea and coffee make news headlines. Black tea may be good for the heart, green tea may help reduce weight; coffee may help prevent Parkinson’s disease. Tea and coffee both contains antioxidants but are they created equal?  Learn more about these much loved beverages and how to prepare them correctly.

Asian Tea Programs

The Asian Tea Experience –China & Japan
Tea in China and Japan is enjoyed in many forms from a simple bowl of tea to the beautiful and intricate tea ceremony. Learn about everyday tea drinking, the Chinese tea ceremony – gong fu cha, and the Japanese tea ceremony – cha-no-yu.  There will be a tea-making demonstration, and a selection of Asian tea implements will be on display.

Cha-no-yu – The Japanese Tea Ceremony
It would take a lifetime (or perhaps two) to fully understand all that surrounds the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Discover how the tradition began in the late fifteenth and sixteenth century when the famous Sen no Rikyu that established the principles that are practiced to this day.  Learn about the four principal aspects of tea ceremony: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. Find out about various items used to make tea, such as the chawan, chasaku, and natsume.  There will be several tea ceremony items on display and a demonstration of how to make a bowl of matcha.

All the Tea in China
Tea, the most consumedbeverage in China, has been a staple since ancienttimes. It is drunk is tea houses and work places, on the street and in the parks throughout the day. Many varieties – green, black, oolong, yellow, and  pu-erh are grown and consumed in China. Learn more about these teas and the Chinese tea ceremony known as gong fu cha. There will be tea implements on display and a demonstration of the gong fu cha ceremony.

Tea and Victoriana

Women and Tea in the Victorian Era
Tea was introduced to England in the middle of the 17th century. It was an exotic and very expensive beverage. At first it could be only purchased in coffee houses which respectable women could not enter. It wasn’t until the early 18th century, when the Golden Lyon Tea Shop was opened by the Twining family in London, that women could purchase tea. Of course, a woman could only do this when accompanied by a man. Tea remained an expensive and prestigious beverage for many years.  However, by the middle of the 19th century, the price of tea was no longer exorbitant and tea was available for consumption by all social classes. Learn how tea had an impact on both upper- and working-class women. Discover how tea affected women’s social events, dress styles, and health.

A Victorian Tea Journey for Children
This program is designed for the younger set. In a light-hearted manner it introduces children to the history and customs of tea and the importance of etiquette and manners in the Victorian Age.

Victorian Parlor Games
The Victorians loved to entertain, and the best way to entertain was to play games. In the 19th century, before electronics changed our habits, people gathered in homes for entertainment and played parlor or board games for recreation. The host or hostess might plan seven or eight games to be played throughout the evening with perhaps a light refreshment between games. Learn some old-fashioned games such as, Lookabout, Change Seats! and Pass the Slipper. Be prepared to play and have fun!

Valentine’s Day – Tea, Flowers and Fans
The romantic concept of Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for centuries with gifts and written notes or cards.  The “Golden Age” of Valentine’s cards began in England in the 1840’s around the same time the afternoon tea party was “invented” by Anna Maria, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. This was a perfect time for sweets, tea parties, and for ladies to flirt with their fans. The language of flowers was used by both sexes to convey romantic, friendly, and even jealous messages.  Come learn abut Victorian tea etiquette and the language of fans, flowers and cards.

A Tea for Queen Victoria’s Birthday Celebration
Tea has been an important and well-loved beverage in Great Britain since the 17th century. During the 19th century the price of tea became less expensive  and it was savored by all classes of British society. Queen Victoria who truly enjoyed tea and sweet confections popularized tea parties during the 1860’s. Learn more about this beloved queen along with British tea history, tea customs and etiquette as we celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday.