Neither food-making nor food-thinking is a solitary endeavor, and Before ‘Farm to Table’  is no exception. The hallmark of our project is collaboration: among the core team members, with artists and writers, with students and scholars across the disciplines, with chefs and cooks, and with members of the public who have a passion for food. Learn more about the people who inspired us, worked with us, and shaped the project from start to finish.

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Project Photos

[L to R] Jack Bouchard, Jonathan MacDonald, and Taylor Johnson gather on Smith Meadows Sustainable Farm in Virginia with participants in the Folger Institute seminar “Digging the Past: Writing and Agriculture in the Seventeenth Century.”
Photo Credit: Amanda Herbert

Culinary historian, food writer, and living history interpreter Michael W. Twitty prepares the ingredients for akara.
Photo credit: JohnnyShryockPhotography

​[L to R] Heather Wolfe, Amanda Herbert, and Michael W. Twitty share a moment of laughter as they cook akara.
Photo credit: JohnnyShryockPhotography

Playing with perspective and social hierarchies, actors performed in every space of the Folger Reading Rooms in “Confection,” a work of performance art commissioned by the Folger Theatre and created by Third Rail Projects.
Photo credit: Ethan Covey

​Elisa Tersigni engages with an actor from Third Rail Projects during “Confection,” an interactive performance in the Folger’s Reading Rooms.
Photo Credit: Brittany Dilberto

Actors in “Confection” place themselves on the banquet table, asking the audience to consider the intimate connections between food, culture, and the human body.
Photo Credit: Brittany Dilberto

Audience members choose to share an elaborate dessert at a performance of “Confection.” Participants were given the power to either share or keep sugary delicacies.
Photo Credit: Brittany Dilberto

[L to R] Kathleen Lynch, Elisa Tersigni, Heather Wolfe, and Michael Walkden examine books featuring early modern plants on a visit with the Mellon-funded Plant Humanities Initiative at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.
Photo Credit: Yota Batsaki

[L to R] Panelists Ambrose Lane Jr., Laura MacCleery, and Michael W. Twitty answer questions during “The Hungry World” as the concluding session of the Folger Institute’s graduate student workshop, “Eating Through the Archives.”
Photo Credit: Amanda Herbert

Neha Vermani launches the panel “Race and Food in the Early Modern Book,” part of the “Food and the Book” conference, co-hosted online by the Folger and Newberry Libraries.
Photo credit: Amanda Herbert

A view of the exhibition “First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas,” held in the Great Hall of the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Photo credit: Elman Studio

Amanda Herbert talks with visitors in a packed Great Hall during a celebration at the exhibition “First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas.”
Photo Credit: Emma Poltrack

[L to R] Michael Walkden, Jack Bouchard, Amanda Herbert, and David Goldstein discuss butchering while making a popular early modern dish, humble pie.
Photo Credit: Julia Fine

David Goldstein reviews a recipe for hippocras, an early modern drink that included wine and spices and was clarified using dairy.
Photo Credit: Amanda Herbert

[L to R] David Goldstein, Rebecca LaRoche, Elisa Tersigni, Heather Wolfe, and Caroline Duroselle-Melish discuss early modern author and chef Hannah Woolley in the Folger’s conservation lab.
Photo Credit: Amanda Herbert

[L to R] Heather Wolfe, Amanda Herbert, and Chef José Andrés discuss the texture, age, and size of seventeenth-century oysters during the exhibition “First Chefs: Fame and Foodways from Britain to the Americas.”
Photo credit: Yassine El Mansouri

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In Performance: Confection

We collaborated with Third Rail Projects to make Confection, a multisensory dance/theater performance staged in the Folger’s historic reading rooms. It asked how much does sweetness cost, and what are we willing to devour to satisfy our appetites?

Illustration of person holding basket of fruit

In Conversation: Scholarly Workshops and Conferences

A hallmark of our approach to collaboration is the gathering together of interested people—across seminars, workshops, and conferences—to engage the most pressing questions of foodways both in early modernity and in society today. Sample some sessions from the “Food and the Book” conference, co-sponsored with the Newberry Library.

“Food and the Book”: Cooking by the Book

“Food and the Book”: Indigenous Foodways Past and Present

Hungry for more “Food and the Book”? Watch the full conference via the Newberry Library’s YouTube playlist here.
Watch playlist

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Associated Scholars

We have collaborated with scholars from around the world—and across methodological and disciplinary boundaries—to explore the many possible directions in which foodways can take us.
Read more…

Working with Food Professionals

We collaborated with local bakers, brewers, chocolatiers, and restauranteurs throughout our project. Sources from the Folger’s collections helped to inspire new dishes, recipes, and menus. Our major partner was chef-humanitarian José Andrés and his ThinkFoodGroup, a company whose mission is to change the world through the power of food. Alongside José and his team, we studied early modern recipes, taught college students, and reimagined food from the past, for the present.

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America Eats Menu

A highlight of our partnership with José Andrés and the ThinkFoodGroup team was the creation of a special menu inspired by the Folger’s collections. These early modern dishes — interpreted and reimagined by Chef Claudio Foschi — appeared on tables at America Eats Tavern, a restaurant in Georgetown, DC. Peruse the menu!

Chef Claudio Foschi and Co-Director Amanda Herbert were interviewed by NPR radio journalist Kojo Nnamdi about the America Eats menu. Listen in!

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Close Reading: Studying Hannah Woolley

Hannah Woolley was one of the most popular English writers to write about household management during the early modern period. She is considered to be the first woman to earn a living as a food writer.

Follow the #WoolleyWeek conversation on Twitter.

Watch our Woolley Workshop

Illustration of Hannah Woolley

Working with Food Writers: A Day with Michael W. Twitty