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Highlights Archives

Ethnic Culinary Traditions Run Deep

Michael Baltus family of Auburndale, Wisconsin, posing in front of their log cabin, with new frame house under construction nearby, 1895
WHI 1793

The food we eat, the vegetables and fruits we plant and harvest, and the fragrant flowers and herbs that enliven our gardens pass down our culture and history from one generation to the next. A new book from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Putting Down Roots: Gardening Insights from Wisconsin's Early Settlers by Marcia C. Carmichael, reveals how the plants our ancestors grew tell stories about their way of life.

Immigrants Brought Their Culinary Traditions with Them

The cover of "Putting Down Roots"
When European immigrants and Yankee settlers arrived in Wisconsin in search of a better life, they brought with them a range of agricultural and culinary traditions reflective of their diverse heritages. With "Putting Down Roots," historical gardener and author Marcia Carmichael offers a window into the lives of our ancestors as she details numerous heritage plant varieties, authentic ethnic recipes, cultivation techniques and tools, and folklore tidbits employed in the kitchens and gardens of early Yankee, German, Norwegian, Irish, Danish, Polish and Finnish immigrants.

A visually inviting slice of cultural history, "Putting Down Roots" is also a practical guide to the gardens of 19th-century ethnic newcomers for today's sustainability-minded heritage gardeners. Featuring the re-created 19th-century heirloom gardens at Old World Wisconsin, "Putting Down Roots" is a story of holding fast to traditions while adapting to changed circumstances in an adopted home.

'Real-Life, Everyday History'

"This is real-life, everyday history — not dates and titles, but seeds, tools, recipes, and meals that illustrate immigrant hopes, values, and traditions," says food author Terese Allen, who co-authored The Flavor of Wisconsin: An Informal History of Food and Eating in the Badger State with the late Harva Hachten. "'Putting Down Roots' is an entrancing heirloom feast for today's cooks, gardeners, and food history buffs," says Allen.

Upcoming Author Appearances by 'Roots' Author Marcia Carmichael

:: Posted June 6, 2011

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