“Culinary Trends in Gold Rush San Francisco…with Molasses on Top” with Erica J. Peters
Join us for “Culinary Trends in Gold Rush San Francisco…with Molasses on Top” with Erica J. Peters!
During the Gold Rush, many of those unable to mine for gold made a good living “mining the miners” – catering to the miners’ desire to consume conspicuously when in San Francisco. Restaurants were the ideal setting: dining in public provided an opportunity to show off what one could afford, to treat one’s friends generously, and to snub one’s rivals. Chinese immigrants ran San Francisco’s first restaurants, serving chops and hashes to all comers, but new French arrivals to the city soon saw that they too could make more money building on France’s fine culinary reputation than by looking directly for gold. Before long a host of immigrants of different nationalities were enticing San Franciscans into trying many new kinds of restaurants, featuring Mexican, Italian, Croatian, and British cuisine alongside Chinese and French. Just as the Gold Rush was ending, a second wave of mining wealth hit San Francisco with the discovery of vast quantities of silver in the Comstock Lode. The city’s Gold Rush dining culture had been vibrant and varied, but rough around the edges. In the 1860s, the new influx of money and investment created a market for elegance and taste, burnishing the city’s culinary culture and setting the stage for San Francisco’s Gilded Age.
About the speaker:
Erica J. Peters is an independent food historian who helped found the Culinary Historians of Northern California in 2004 and has been the director ever since. She is also the author of San Francisco: A Food Biography (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013) and Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam: Food and Drink in the Long Nineteenth Century (AltaMira, 2012). Peters received her bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard University and her doctorate in history from the University of Chicago. She has taught at Stanford University, Santa Clara University, San Francisco State University, and the University of Maryland University College. She has published numerous articles on the history of food and drink and has presented at conferences across the United States and abroad. She is currently co-editing a collection of articles about food in French history and continuing her research into San Francisco’s culinary history.
A reception with themed refreshments will follow the talk at approximately 11:30.
Free and open to the public.