CHoW/DC seeks to promote a greater awareness of culinary history as a field of study, as well as support and explore the culinary foodways in our own region.



CHoW/DC Culinary History Collection at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries

The CHoW/DC Culinary History Collection contains more than 300 books on widely varied culinary history topics, donated by CHoW members. The collection is shelved at the National Museum of American History and at the Smithsonian’s space in Suitland, Maryland, and is available online at

CHoW members have also made contributions to the NMAH Archives’ extensive collection of product cookbooks, also available for use by scholars and researchers who make an appointment with the Archives.


Annual Themed Supper

Once a year, members meet and share a pot-luck supper. Based on a chosen theme, such as Good Food for Hard Times, Foods of the Silk Road, Foods of the Civil War Era, members research recipes and history and share their findings in a delicious, convivial, and informative meal


Field Trips

From a behind-the-scenes look at the kitchen in the Woodrow Wilson House, a local producer of authentic Polish-style mead, or an orchard growing the same apples that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington did, CHoW members explore local and historical foodways in the field.


CHoW Goes to Market

In this new endeavor, members research, present, and demonstrate historic, regional, and seasonal recipes at local farm markets, linking shoppers not only to locally produced food, but to the stories of history.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

CHoW explored Spring produce at the Olney Farmers and Artists Market, particularly green salads, using A Quaker Woman’s Cookbook, The Domestic Cookery of Elizabeth Ellicott Lea by William Woys Weaver (2004)

Elizabeth Ellicott Lea (1793-1858) was born to a well-off Quaker Maryland family. Widowed at a young age, she had a special concern for women being prepared to run their households as well as a love of gardening and cooking. Her cookbook, first self-published in 1845, is considered one of the classics of early American food writing and

many of her recipes are useful today especially for cooks and gardeners in the Mid-Atlantic.

See her green salad recipe.

Sunday June 12, 2016

As the season shifted, CHoW visited at the Olney Farmers and Artists Market to explore fruit with The Virginia Housewife Or, Methodical Cook by Mary Randolph (1993)

Mary Randolph (1762-1828) was also born to a wealthy Virginia family related to the Custis, Washington, and Jefferson families. Mary Randolph and her husband owned a tobacco plantation on the James River where she managed an enslaved staff and gained a reputation for hospitality and fine food. But by 1808 the family was impoverished and Mary opened a boardinghouse. In 1824 she published The Virginia Housewife, which is considered the first truly American cookbook, the first regional American cookbook, and the first Southern cookbook. She captures summer produce in Raspberry Vinegar.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

At the Dupont Circle Fresh Farm Market, around 11 a.m., CHoW will explore the timely theme of Elections and Politics.

In recognition of this year’s presidential election these recipes are all from political fundraising and politically-themed cookbooks. All are baked goods, as America has a tradition of election cakes that can serve a crowd. Try recipes for a reporter’s election night fruitcake, a first lady’s pear cake, and more.