Get a real taste of the past this weekend at the Dallidet Adobe and Gardens in San Luis Obispo.
On Sunday, New York City-based author and gastronomical historian Sarah Lohman will lead a tasting of historical recipes from and inspired by her upcoming book, “Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine.”
Since the adobe’s former owner and namesake, French vintner Pierre Hypolite Dallidet was one of the forefathers of the local wine industry, wine will be among the culinary touchstones for the event. The food will be paired with wines from Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles.
One dish, a pepper candy, includes white wine as an ingredient.
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Sunday’s event is the first to follow what organizers described as an interpretative approach.
“We’re planning to do a long-term food history program at the Dallidet Adobe,” said Eva Ulz, curator and director of the History Center of San Luis Obispo County.
Ulz added that Lohman will assist the center’s staff in developing the program, much as she has done for other cultural institutions such as the New-York Historical Society.
One of the History Center’s goals is restoring and opening the adobe’s kitchen to community members, Ulz said, “and getting them interested in food history is a first step.”
Lohman had her first experience with food-as-history in high school when she began working at a living history museum in Cleveland.
“I was in costume, in character, full time over the summer,” Lohman said. “It was an awakening for me. Instead of memorized history from textbooks, it connected me to social history — the everyday lives of people in the past.
“I was assigned to a family group in a house, and we cooked every day from historical recipes. That was my introduction to food of the past, but also the idea that food tasted different in different time periods.”
“The job allowed me into some of the best restaurants in the city, and I got to meet some of the country’s most famous chefs,” Lohman recalled. “I recognized that there was an interest in tradition and in looking to the past for inspiration. … I also noticed that most chefs weren’t historians and most historians weren’t cooks. Someone needed to bridge the gap, and that was me.”
The title of Lohman’s book, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in December, comes from the approach she chose to examine American history.
“I’m looking at eight different flavors that are the most popular in American cooking: black pepper, vanilla, chili powder, curry powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG and sriracha,” she said. “I’m using these flavors to help define American cuisine, but I also use each flavor to talk about a different era in American history, and different Americans that don’t normally get written about in the history books — women and people of color, the folks that really shaped American cuisine.”
Lohman, who writes about food and history on her blog Four Pounds Flour, explained that “the book is really the heart of everything I do: use food to make connections with the people of the past.”
Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at email@example.com.
A Taste of the Past with Historical Gastronomist Sarah Lohman
Author and historian Sarah Lohman will lead a tasting of historical recipes accompanied by wines from Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Dallidet Adobe and Gardens, 1185 Pacific St. in San Luis Obispo.
She’ll also share tales from her food history adventures and preview her upcoming book “Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine.”
Tickets are $50, or $35 for History Center members. For more information, call 805-543-0638 or visit historycenterslo.org.