|F2Ti Inaugural Keynote Speaker |
Rubel is the author and 2003 James Beard Award nominee of The Magic of Fire: Hearth Cooking:One Hundred Recipes for Fireplace and Campfire and Bread: A Global History. He is not writing a history of bread for University of California Press. Rubel writes on small-scale agriculture and traditional foodways for Mother Earth News.
A longtime mushroom collector, Rubel’s article in Economic Botany on the historic uses of Amanita muscaria—the iconic mushroom with white dots so favored by children’s book illustrators—as a mushroom for the dinner table has inspired a reappraisal of that mushroom’s edibility. He grows his own vegetables and maintains a longstanding interest in the history of kitchen gardens and the raised-bed gardening system.
|Amanita muscaria's resurgence as an edible |
mushroom was reprised by William Rubel.
For F2Ti, Rubel’s address will provide historical context to the 21st Century Farm-to-Table movement. He will discuss the British and French kitchen gardens attached to the big country houses of the 1600s and 1700s, which were the gardens in which the raised-bed gardening system was perfected. These gardens, which could be many acres in size, employed the latest in agricultural practices. They provided an almost unimaginable variety of vegetables and fruits through a 12-month growing season to satisfy the demands of the finest tables in Europe.
These gardens or, in our terms, small farms, offer inspiration on many levels for us today as we attempt to redevelop the type of agricultural skills that enabled those farmers to provide quality produce to a discerning clientele across the entirety of a year—Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter—despite growing in a Northern European climate. Salad all year, strawberries in January, asparagus in November—this is what the owner of a large British country house in circa 1700 expected from the kitchen garden.
Now, in too many places, we have replaced agricultural skill with cheap transportation. The history of kitchen gardens offers ideas that we can use today to revitalize our agricultural practices.
Members of the LRA receive a 20 percent discount off registration to F2Ti by using the code LRA13. Check out the schedule here.