Raynham Hall Museum will be hosting an upcoming event that promises to transport attendees back to the colonial era, tantalizing taste buds with the flavors of yesteryear. “Stirring up History: Traditions and Taste with Diane Schwindt” is set to be an immersive experience delving into the history of colonial meals around the winter holidays.
Diane Schwindt, the resident historic cook at the Ketcham Inn c. 1693 in Center Moriches, brings her passion for Revolutionary history and culinary traditions to Raynham Hall. With a career spanning 40 years working for the Town of Brookhaven, Schwindt’s expertise in historic cooking has earned recognition from the New-York Historical Society, museums, and educational institutions.
The sold-out event, scheduled for Dec. 8, promises a culinary journey through time. Attendees can look forward to indulging in mulled cinnamon wine warmed over a crackling fire and savoring fresh potato latkes, among other period treats. Schwindt, known for her use of authentic materials, cooking equipment, and meticulous research, said that by learning about the food the early Americans ate, people can get a better understanding of how American culture and its dining changed over the centuries.
“The history of food is multilayered, it’s multifaceted,” Schwindt said. “So when I do these demonstrations, I bring museum pieces that I use to cook, like pots from the 1700s and other equipment, that become not only a visual aid but also gives the story extra depth.”
Schwindt said it was her parents who first helped her fall in love with history by taking her to historic homesteads along the Eastern Seaboard, and her deep-rooted interest in history eventually led her to the role of director at the Ketchum Inn. A chance meeting with Dr. Alice Ross, a renowned food historian, sparked Schwindt’s transition into historic cooking.
Schwindt said she plans to explore the religious aspects of food, emphasizing the historical significance of certain dishes tied to specific holidays. From St. Patrick’s Day to Hanukkah, attendees can expect a culinary journey encompassing various traditions and flavors of the past.
“The evolution of food changes with modern technology,” Schwindt said. “The pendulum is now going back to organic, seasonal foods, reflecting a deeper connection to our roots.”
Harriet Clark, the director of Raynham Hall Museum, expressed excitement about the event, highlighting its unique blend of history and gastronomy. She also added that for those who missed out on the sold-out event, there is still space for attendees for their “Townsend Talks” series entitled “Coastal Connections and the Furniture of Early Long Island” on Dec. 7 with Elizabeth Fox of Yale Art Gallery, which will focus on the economic and craftsmanship relationship between Rhode Island and Long Island in the colonial era.
“This will be one of our Townsend talks, focusing on different aspects of our mission and the historic house,” Clark said. “Diane’s expertise adds a flavorful dimension to understanding the connection between food and history.”
For more information on upcoming events at the museum, visit RaynhamHallMuseum.org or contact (516) 922-6808.