Stepping Back to a Slower Age: A Day With a Food Historian - ifarm LLC
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Stepping Back to a Slower Age: A Day With a Food Historian

Wood Fired Oven

Stepping Back to a Slower Age: A Day With a Food Historian

Paula Marcoux, a food historian, professional cook and author of Cooking with Fire (Storey Publishing, 2014) will be coming to ifarm on March 26 to explore the culinary heritage of New England. Paula specializes in the food history of 19th century America and 17th century England and France.

Considering ifarm’s own 19th-century heritage, we were very excited to find her! Paula will be guiding a small group to use ifarm’s hearth and historic brick oven. We will dive into the 19th century by making a delicious lunch. The menu includes some simple and beautiful old recipes, including roasting a leg of mustard-garlic crusted lamb over the fire, baking fresh bread, roasting vegetables, making fruit tarts (or a pie), and a few other treats.

We will be focusing on one of the most difficult skills in any chef’s arsenal; managing fire for baking and roasting. The class size has been limited to eight people so participants can get their hands into the process and ask as many questions as they desire.

“People tend to get bored with what they cook- this is one way to open up your repertoire. When you cook from the heritage of where you live, there is a connection that happens, a passion that is possible, that makes you appreciate a slower age and the immediacy of this modern world that has fresh fruit in winter.”

-Paula Marcoux

Paula Marcoux Hearth Cooking

Paula Marcoux cooking in the hearth

Cooking with Fire- The Gift of the Gods

Culinary history differs from other archaeological fields because it is just as practical today as 200 or 2,000 years ago. We can explore the recipes of the past and share in the pleasure of a beautiful meal just like the people of the past.

In Open Hearth Cooking and Brick Oven Baking, each dish will be an exploration of human history. We will explore the recipes that people cooked 200 years ago and explore how an open fire can change a dish. In particular, Paula will cover how to unlock particular tastes that only a relationship with open fire can bring out: the seared flavors, the intense heat that locks in juices, and the subtle taste of the wood you used to cook with.

We will cover important culinary fire skills, including different methods of cooking with fire, understanding the heat of a given fire, staying ahead of the coals to have constant heat, creating different cooking areas (or “burners”) within one hearth, using fuel efficiently, and the uses of different woods.

Paula will also talk with participants about translating their new cooking skills into the modern world. Attendees will be able to use any fireplace, backyard fire pit, or beach fire to craft delicious meals. Our goal is for participants to walk away feeling more connected to their food, closer to New England’s heritage, and inspired to approach cooking in new ways.

Or, to take from Paula’s words:

“Take it outside. Lower the technology level. Learn how they cooked it decades…centuries…millennia ago. Make a fire.”

Come step back in time with us on March 26th.

Great 19th-century Cooking References for Fledgling Chef Historians

The Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Mary Lincoln
(Lincoln, M. J., & Lincoln, M. J. (1996). Boston Cooking School cookbook. Mineola: Dover.)

The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph