A Fireside Chat

While much of the rest of the country is under a blanket of snow, tonight our group planned a fireside chat evening on the mild-weathered Central Coast. We met at the base of Deleveaga Park and watched the sun set with local beers in hand and grins on our faces.

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We were happy not only for the lovely sunset and the yummy local brew, but because, after all, the premise was to gather with friends and share stories about local food history. And so we spent nearly five hours on a Sunday afternoon/evening cozied up and sharing updates on our research topics. We relished being able to share our latest discoveries and get feedback on what to focus our research on next.

Tonight I learned about the local characters behind the Loganberry and the McGrath Hop, how artichoke racketeering affected New York markets, how the name Chanticleer Ave is a reference to a rooster, and that the deeper story of dairies can be traced all the way back to the Spanish Missions through the later secularization of those Missions. I also learned just how much we all had learned, and it was a boost to see how far everyone had gotten in their research and writing since we last shared our works.

At the end of the meeting, I was pointed to a new article with overlapping names and dates of interest, to inform my own research on wheat. These cross-linkages are what these regional food stories are made of, and by gathering and sharing we are making our work better as a whole. I would say, without any doubt, that this fireside chat was quite a success!

—Liz Birnbaum

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