Eric Colleary, curator of the theater and performing arts collection at the Ransom Center, has a side interest: The history of foodways, how eating habits and culinary practices change through the eras.
Colleary maintains a blog, The American Table, in which he documents his experiences trying historic recipes for dishes such as Election Cake and delves into topics such as the story of butchering in America.
“Food hits all the senses,” says Colleary. “Tasting foods made from historic recipes gives you a sense of the labor, the skill, the economy, the geographic and historical influences, and the palate of a person.”
And so when he set out to organize an exhibit in conjunction with the 90th anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death, Colleary culled the Ransom Center’s collection of the magician’s papers and books for any information on what the famous illusionist liked to eat.
Says Colleary: “For a figure like Houdini, (understanding what he ate) cuts through the legend directly to the person, who, like everyone else, has to eat.”
The Houdini exhibit, on view through Nov. 6, dovetails with “Houdini Speaks to the Living,” a new play devised from the Ransom Center’s Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle collections to imagine the two men in a debate about the true nature of magic. Read more….