Friday, July 24, 2009

Slow food

I took the day off today to visit this summer's UNI Museum exhibit, "Slow Food: The Way Iowans Eat." The exhibit featured information, photos and kitchen items from the late 1800s to today. I'm fascinated with culinary history, particularly with the cooking methods of the early 1900s to 1950s, so this exhibit was a "must see" for me.

The exhibit started with a look at how dining styles have changed since the late 1800s. Back then, families all gathered around a dinner table, which was often decorated with a centerpiece and full place setting. All the courses were served at once, so the table was full of food. Families dressed up for supper. They bought meat from a local butcher, who cut the carcass in front of the customers to their specifications.

Canning was essential to Iowans back before refrigeration to preserve the garden bounty. Here's a display of canned foods, including meats.

Notice the sauerkraut slicer in the bottom left-hand corner. I'd love to find a working one of those to play around with in my kitchen.
Early refrigerators weren't electric. They were cooled with blocks of ice, sometimes broken off from nearby rivers in the winter months.

The exhibit featured a quote from one Iowa n who remembered her grandmother always had cookies, bars and pies in the ice box ready for grandkids and guests. Reminded me of my grandmother, who always had a plate of bars at the table when I came over to visit. She was a terrific baker.
Thought this picture of a "meat locker" was terrific. I didn't actually realize that the "locker" actually had lockers for customers to rent to keep meat cold before at-home freezers became the norm. Looks like a bank deposit box for meat.

The exhibit included several old-fashioned aprons on display. In a glass case was fabric from old flour sacks, which often were turned into aprons. Don't you just love the colorful patterns.

Also on display were antique food containers, such as this Wheaties cereal box.

The exhibit ended with a look at today's fast-food lifestyle. Convenience has certainly changed the way Iowans eat today. And like the exhibit says, it makes you wonder what we have lost in terms of quality and diversity in our diets.
However, it's difficult for a 30-year-old woman like me, who grew up on convenience foods, to learn how to prepare meals the way my grandmothers did. Even my grandmas embraced convenience foods, including boxed cake mixes. I hope to find some a balance between healthy, back-to-basics eating and modern convenience to accomodate my busy work schedule.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails