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Highlights of the Laurie Gruenbeck Mexican Cookbook Collection, Feb. 19th to March 12th at the Downtown Library

February 22, 2010

“There is much to be learned from reading a cookbook besides how to prepare food—discovering the stories told in the spaces between the recipes or within the recipes themselves” –Janet Theophano in Eat my Words.

The 6th Interdisciplinary and Multicultural Conference on Food Representation in Literature, Film, and the Other Arts, sponsored by UTSA’s Department of Modern Languages, will take place at the Downtown Campus Feb. 25th-27th. Topics at this diverse conference include the analysis of everything from dining in Eighteenth-Century to hunger and social control in the 2006 film, Pan’s Labyrinth, and everything in between. Several sessions focus particularly on the preparation of food and its significance in terms of personal, familial, and national identity. In conjunction with the conference, a selection of cookbooks highlighting the intersections between food and identity will be on display at the Downtown Campus Library on the 2nd floor of the Buena Vista Building from Feb. 19th to March 12th. A special cookbook reading room—with more treasures from Special Collections and the opportunity to read them in depth—will also be open at the downtown library from 9AM-1PM on Saturday, Feb. 27th.

UTSA Special Collections’ Laurie Gruenbeck Mexican Cookbook Collection contains over 900 Mexican, Texan, and Southwestern cookbooks in English and Spanish, ranging in date from 1922-2010. Two of the rarest books in the collection are Deviled Dainties, published in 1922 by Gebhardt Mexican Foods Company to promote the use of chili powder in American kitchens, and Josefina Velázquez de León’s Antojitos Mexicanos, featuring recipes from her cooking school in Mexico City at mid-century. The collection also includes small-scale publications, such as Recipes from the Old Masters (and a few PhDs) by researchers at Lackland Airforce Base in the 1960s, and a unique pair of scrapbooks in which an anonymous cook carefully pasted recipes published in newspapers from the 1920s-1940s. Additionally, Mexican cooking as it has been published over the past 30 years is well-documented. A complete listing of the collection can be found in UCAT.

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