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Mortimer Rare Book Room press release   Date: 9/20/10 Bookmark and Share

Exhibit Explores Centures of Culinary Curiosities

Six recipes for puff pastry from 1669 to 1970. Eating ice cream in France in the late 19th century. Dining with gladiatorial entertainment.

The Cat's Festival, ca. 1808, one of three watercolors in the Mortimer Rare Book Room attributed to William Mulready (1786-1863), and Irish-born painter known for his scenes of rural life and illustrations for books.

These are just three of the offerings in Cabinet of Culinary Curiosities: Books & Manuscripts from the Mortimer Rare Book Room, an exhibition on display in the Morgan Gallery (first floor) and the Books Arts Gallery (third floor, near the Rare Book Room) through January 20, 2011.

Other items featured: a tribute to Julia Child and her fellow Smith College classmate, cooking teacher, and writer, Charlotte Turgeon; Jack Sprat and the space race; cooking and dining for kings, queens, and mice; and French opinions about Chinese food and table manners. This array of more than fifty culinary curiosities from books and manuscripts features images and descriptions of food and eating from the 16th through the 21st centuries.

A cabinet of curiosities is a private collection of esoterica from the realms of natural history, geology, archaeology, religious relics, artwork, and antiquity. The classic style of these cabinets emerged in the 16th century as one or more rooms overflowing with fascinating objects.

Cabinet of Culinary Curiosities was created as a component of Table for Ten: The Art, History and Science of Food, a series of exhibitions and events organized for fall 2010 by Museums10, a group of museum and historical sites here in the Pioneer Valley.

Most of the items in the exhibition are from the Mortimer Rare Book Room; a few gems have been borrowed from the Smith College Archives and the curatorís own culinary collection. For more information on Cabinet of Culinary Curiosities, contact Barbara Blumenthal, Mortimer Rare Book Room.

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