Food historian brings residents ‘A Taste of Maryland’
Southern Maryland’s own food historian Joyce White hosted “A Taste of Maryland” at the La Plata Library, with some savory topics of discussion for Charles County residents.
Local residents were able to celebrate Maryland Day with the event at the La Plata Library on Thursday. Participants experienced an entertaining presentation by White and learned about the history of Maryland’s famous food traditions and food businesses.
“In my PowerPoint presentation, I tried to include different foods from different regions such as Southern Maryland and Baltimore. We discussed how the settlement patterns, tobacco and slavery all influenced the food choices and cuisine over periods of time. I tie it altogether, specifically the rich history and how the food is woven through the decades,” White said.
The “A Taste of Maryland” presentation is based on research White has been doing in her role as curator for the State of Maryland permanent exhibit at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. White’s presentation was followed by the opportunity to taste her assortment of sweet and savory Maryland cuisines such as Maryland chili, crab chips, Otterbein’s cookies, Jewish apple cake and Maryland white potato pie.
“The Maryland chili with black eyed peas is an African-American tradition and [features] McCormick chili spice. McCormick is a Baltimore based industry that has been around since the 19th century. I made some Jewish apple cake because of the large jewish population in Maryland, white potato pie, which is an Eastern Shore speciality, and then Otterbein’s sugar cookies. Otterbein’s Bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in Baltimore. They are very thin, crisp and distinctive of the Baltimore area,” White said.
“I have been to three of Joyce White’s events and I have learned a lot each time. Every session has been chock full of information. She knows her stuff,” Amy Peregoy of Waldorf said. “Some of my favorite foods to learn about were the stuffed ham and the soft crab.”
Judy Gough of Waldorf said as a child she can remember seeing the older members of her family cooking muskrat with garlic and onions as well as terrapin in a mock turtle soup, which Joyce White also referred to in her presentation.
“My family grew up in Charles County so I grew up cooking and eating all of these Southern Maryland foods. Joyce White knew about all of the dishes that I grew up with and she didn’t make any mistakes. She really did her research well. It shocked me and I’m so gad that I came,” Gough said.
Gough was on a mission to obtain White’s recipe for the Maryland white potato pie.
White said one of her favorite dishes is also the white potato pie because it has the most interesting historical background.
“White potato pie was popular and then it died, so I call it a food fossil. I’m making it return to the dinner table and getting it back into people’s consciousness,” White said.
White said that most times while visiting Southern Maryland or the Eastern Shore, residents are familiar with most of the Maryland food except for the historic Baltimore cuisine, and vice versa occurs with the Baltimore crowd.
“I hope that I reaffirmed some of the things that the Southern Maryland residents already know and experienced throughout their lives, especially if they were born and bred here,” White said.
Food historian Joyce White brought Maryland white potato pie to her “A Taste of Maryland” event March 24 at the La Plata Library.
Southern Maryland food historian Joyce White brought a wide array of Southern Maryland food for Charles County residents to taste at her “A Taste of Maryland” event at the La Plata Library on March 24. Waldorf resident Judy Gough was excited to taste some of White’s Maryland chili with black eyed peas in it.