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Barbara Wheaton in her element

Posted by Sheryl Julian  June 14, 2010 06:10 PM

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barbarawheaton.jpgBarbara Wheaton, who lives in Lexington, is one of the foremost food historians in the country. She teaches a week-long class at Radcliffe on how to do research from old cookbooks (I took it one year) and it's a jam-packed, exhilarating, scholarly experience.

Harvard Gazette staff writer Tania deLuzuriaga wrote a story on the class and staff photographer Stephanie Mitchell snapped this charming shot. Anyone who knows Barbara and took any of the classes she taught at Radcliffe Seminars can hear her musical voice explaining something on the page that you might have read half a dozen times and not noticed.

She began her serious research in the 1960s when she was writing "Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789." When I interviewed her years ago for the Boston Globe, she told me a story about doing research in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, France's national library. She was looking at cookbooks. Her sitter called the library to find her because one of her small children was ill. "She's reading cookbooks," the sitter told the librarian. "Impossible," said the librarian. "No one here is reading cookbooks."

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Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

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