Quest for the Quintessential American Meal
Collection represents every derivative of U.S. culinary history from Armenian to Welsh.
In graduate school at Cornell five decades ago, a friend asked Jan Longone to make a quintessential American meal. What, exactly, would that include, wondered the petite Boston-accented woman?
That question sparked a quest for Longone and her husband Daniel, now an emeritus professor of chemistry at the
Jan gravitated toward food-related materials while Dan preferred those on wine. "We had this separate but overlapping interest," he says. "We were always book people."
More than a collection, which they were certainly building, the Longones "were generating a point of view that was not common": that food and wine are a valid expression of American history.
It is perhaps appropriate that the metaphor descriptor of
Before they donated their collection to the
Their collection represented 26 languages and every derivative of American culinary history from Armenian to Welsh. "American culinary history is anything
For years, the pair battled the perspective of foreigners that
Every piece of the collection is rare and it's not all cookbooks. Wine materials include "any old books that had something to say" about wine. That includes the cultural role of wine, early paintings of winemaking processes and passages on the relationship between wine and food.
"As a scientist, I became interested in what in the world made [early cultures] add sea water [to winemaking], how did resin develop and what did that have to do with clay jars used to ship in the old days," says Dan.
Some of Dan's favorite items include:
- A personal manuscript on wine by political philosopher John Locke, written to his English mentor, Earl of Salisbury. "Here's this great political scientist and he was collecting wine data," Dan says.
- A collection of works owned by Captain Gustave Niebaum, a founder of
- The first edition of Cocks and Feret, an early 19th-century book on
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