Culinary Insights

If the way to win someone’s heart is through their stomach, perhaps the Oneida Community cuisine, as much as their religious philosophy, was responsible for the loyalty of so many ardent members.   It was a simple and mostly vegetarian cuisine based on fresh ingredients  grown in the fields and orchards of the Community.   I’ve been hungry to learn about their crops, recipes, menus and methods of preserving and preparing their food.

At Syracuse University Library, where the Oneida papers are archived,  I discovered a menu planner from November 1877, a time when four meals a day were served.   It provided an interesting snapshot of a month where potatoes were served in some form with nearly every meal.   But I wanted more detail!  A  couple of weeks ago Frank and I met with the Executive Director of the Mansion House, Patricia  Hoffman who gave me a photocopy of a cookbook compiled and edited by Harriet Skinner, a sister of John Humphrey Noyes and an early convert and member of the O. C.  What a goldmine of all things culinary in the O.C. !   Follow along on Harriet’s Food Blog for more on O. C. cooking and cuisine.



  1. Jenna said,

    August 6, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    This sounds like a fascinating project and I am sure you will continue to find wonders galore in the records left by the Oneidans! I study a strange little aspect of their world–their engagement with technologies of communication–and would love to talk to you more about your project.

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