Welcome to Nan’s Kitchen, a site dedicated to the exploration of Newfoundland and Labrador foodways.
Why Did I Start Nan's Kitchen?
Well, it took me a while, but I finally did it. I started a blog!
I have always wanted to start a website to share my writing and research online. Yet, I kept putting it off. Things always got in the way and I could never figure out what exactly I wanted to write about.
But that all changed when I walked into the first class of my seminar in Canadian history earlier this year. For this seminar, my professor challenged our class to examine Canadian material culture while leveraging digital technologies.
I knew right away that this was my chance to start the blog of my dreams. I could finally share my writing with the world! But there was still one problem: I had no idea what to write about!
A Newfoundlander Stuck on the Mainland
As I have mentioned to many people over the years, I am a Newfoundlander who had the unfortunate luck of leaving my home province at a young age. Although I have lived on the ‘Mainland’ since I was a child, my connection to Newfoundland and Labrador has only gotten stronger.
Over the years, I developed a passion for Newfoundland and Labrador social history, and my studies at the University of Ottawa helped to expand this passion. As an undergraduate history student, I have taken every opportunity to incorporate the history and heritage of my home province into the work and research I do. I want this project to be no different.
When first presented with the opportunity to undertake a project on material culture, I was initially stumped. I knew I wanted to examine Newfoundland and Labrador material culture, but that did not narrow-down my topic far enough.
For those of you unfamiliar, material culture can be defined as “the study through artifacts of the beliefs—values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions—of a particular community or society at a given time” (Prown, 1). In other words, it is the study of societies through the physical objects and
spaces they use to define their cultures.
With so many possibilities, where do I start? What material object should I examine? There are simply too many to choose from.
Why Newfoundland and Labrador Foodways?
After giving it a lot of thought, I realized that there is one element of Newfoundland and Labrador material culture that surpasses all others in importance: food.
To many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, like peoples of cultures all around the world, food is one way we preserve our culture and pass down our traditions to new generations.
Personally, I have countless memories of sitting around the dinner table enjoying a plate of Jigg’s Dinner, frying-up a batch of fish and chips after being out in boat all day, or helping my mother roll snowball cookies in coconut at our home in Ontario. By preparing and eating traditional Newfoundland and Labrador dishes, my family has kept our culture and heritage alive, despite no longer residing on the island.
Because food plays such an important role in the culture of a people, I hope to explore Newfoundland and Labrador foodways as a way to access the history of the province and to examine its people’s heritage and
And there I had it, I finally decided what I wanted to write about after all this time: the history of the food of Newfoundland and Labrador.
What Can You Expect from Nan's Kitchen?
As I already alluded to, this site was created for a seminar in Canadian history, entitled Canadian Material History in the Digital Age. The aim of this course is to explore Canadian history using material methods and digital tools.
As digital technology has advanced and more and more people are sharing information online, historians must quickly adapt to the new digital environment to present the past to people online.
Therefore, I will use this site to present the research I am doing on Newfoundland and Labrador food history. By doing so, anyone who stumbles across my site (like you!) will have easy access to the research and resources I have collected over the course of the project.
Over the next few weeks and months, I will regularly post articles on key themes in Newfoundland and Labrador food history which can be found in the ‘Articles’ page. This may include examinations of the historic origins of iconic Newfoundland dishes and food traditions, analyses of various primary sources, and much more.
I will also share historic recipes that I come across in my research in the ‘Recipes’ section and even attempt to recreate them.
In ‘The Collection’, I will curate a selection of material artefacts regarding the foodways of Canada’s most easterly province. These sources may include advertisements of food products found in newspapers and other published material, old cookbooks and cookbooklets, historic photographs of people collecting, preparing, and eating various kinds of food, and audiovisual material of food traditions and nutrition.
Finally, the ‘Resources’ page will include helpful resources and additional reading material, including books, articles, digital tools, and more. These recommendations will assist anyone interested in doing further research on Newfoundland and Labrador foodways and related topics.
Stay tuned for more!
My hope is that this site will inspire you to engage with Newfoundland and Labrador’s food history. Examine some of the material objects yourself or try out some of the historic recipes.
In the meantime, comment below what part of the project you are most excited about.
Stay tuned for more updates from me!
Prown, Jules David. "Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method." Winterthur Portfolio 17, no. 1 (1982).