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FAUX FOODS DOCENT FACT SHEETS

Example: 18th-Century Crispy Wafers

Historic Faux Foods by Sandy Levins provides docent fact sheets with each of its products. This enables a historic site to instantly and accurately expand its interpretive story-telling to include the newly-acquired foodways items. For example, here's the text of a docent fact sheet about out faux crispy wafers and cornets:

~ ~ ~

Delicate wafers made from flour, butter, egg white, rose water, and sugar and cooked over the hearth in a two-sided iron press, were a staple of European food as far back
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Foreground: Faux crispy wafers and cornets stuffed with cream filling. In the rear are faux unleavened sponge cakes.
as the fourteenth century. Other ingredients and fillers were also frequently used. Martha Washington's own recipe for wafers was a very rich one based on French practices of adding cream, yeast, nutmeg and cinnamon to the mix.

In Medieval times wafers were an important part of court ceremony at the end of a state meal, often associated with saying the final grace and the washing of hands. Though this practice was somewhat religious in that it echoed the Holy Communion, wafers would eventually become luxurious treats consumed during celebrations by those who could afford such fare.

In 18th-century America, wafers were a frequent delight on the tables of the affluent, especially during holiday festivities and family ceremonies such as wedding parties.

The flat irons in which they were baked were designed specifically for that purpose, having round plates shallowly incised with delicate designs. The iron was first held over the open fire until hot; batter was ladled onto the bottom plate of the open iron; then the top plate was brought down to produce a crisp, patterned wafer. Today's pizzelle is a direct descendent of this old-time practice.

The wafers could be served flat, rolled, or shaped into cones -- or cornets -- and filled with Chantilly cream or rich egg custard. They were also used for holding small quantities of table treats such as sweetmeats -- that era's term for candied dried fruits.

It was not until the 19th century that wafer cones, called cornets, came into common use to hold everyone's favorite summer treat: ice cream.


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Sandy@HistoricFauxFoods.com

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