While working at the Shingwauk Residential School Centre in Algoma University, one of the many jobs I did within the centre included physically processing items for a number of our repositories. The SRSC holds the archives for the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and for Algoma University, and the AUA also holds the archives for the Anglican Diocese of Algoma. In a box that came in from a local church sat the reason this blog post is even being written.
The book Culinary Landmarks or Half-Hours With Sault Ste. Marie Housewives is part of the Diocesan Heritage Centre history files collection, and was published in 1909. When I went to process this book, I was immediately struck by it. When processing, I like to go through the materials and if time allows, I make a mental note of where it is so I can go back to it if I want. This time, however, I wasted pretty much the entire rest of my morning flipping through this cookbook and reading some of the more... interesting items out loud to my coworkers until I realized I should probably have been getting more work done.
Which brings us to today. When given the podcast assignment, my only real concern was how annoyed I was going to be with the sound of my own voice by the end of it (as I said in my last blog post). Around the time I had to start thinking about a topic, I got a Twitter notification that reminded me of the existence of Culinary Landmarks. At the end of my work term at the SRSC, I had fully intended to do an small exhibition in the Algoma U library on historic cookboks, but I never got around to it. Thankfully, my colleagues are rad as heck and did it for me. This just reignited my interest and love for this dumb, weird, book and I decided to write my podcast about it.
When I was going through the recipes with my coworkers, I took a bunch of pictures of the pages that had things I found interesting. There was a lot of old ads for local places (some still exist!) and some truly, truly awful recipes for monstrosities like baked bean sandwiches and banana salad. One that stood out in my mind was salmon pudding. Legitimately nothing about it sounded appealing, and yet something was calling to me to make this. So I did. There's actually an 8 minute long video of going through the process of making the damn thing, but only a select few people have seen it (for a good reason). I, as a 24 year old woman born in Canada and raised by Italian immigrants, am pretty unfamiliar with the concept of steamed puddings which appear to be an intrinsically British heritage thing. I unashamedly googled the exact phrase "how to steam a pudding", and came across a really helpful guide on BBC Goodfood that walked me through this nonsense. I also made a ginger snap recipe from the book, but in comparison to the pudding it's completely benign and uneventful.