An Appetizing Topic

Artist turned author serves up historical food


Jill Rumoshosky Werner is not a food expert. She's an artist -- or she was, until she retired and moved to Bella Vista.

Explaining her creations is complicated: "I had quilts in my art, but they were more like raw material for my art rather than the art themselves," she says. Even art quilters -- a genre about as far from Texas Lone Star and Tumbling Blocks as it's possible to be -- didn't know what to do with Werner. But the art community did. Her last project before retirement was "Radical Elements," an international traveling exhibition of works by 40 artists who weren't allowed to use fabric or thread.


‘A Taste of Old Benton County’

WHEN — Noon Tuesday

WHERE — Rogers Public Library

COST — Free

INFO — 621-1152

Having moved from Wichita, Kan., to Northwest Arkansas, however, Werner turned her attention to other things. She discovered the Bella Vista Historical Museum, and Xyta Lucas, its co-president, drew her into a project. She said nobody had really researched the food traditions of Bella Vista, and Werner was off and running. Soon, she was presenting a PowerPoint on the historic cuisine of Bella Vista for her Questers club, along with a "massive tasting" of about 14 different dishes. Now she's working on a cookbook, and she's amazed and delighted with what she's found.

For example, she says, the consumption of food was very different when ice boxes still outnumbered refrigerators. "You didn't do leftovers. The ice box was for milk and eggs."

Branching out into Benton County, she was also surprised to find the popularity of oysters in local grocery ads and in recipes in an 1880 cookbook in the Rogers Historical Museum collection.

Werner is still working on the cookbook, but she's pausing to speak to the Second Tuesdays Lunch and Learn at the Rogers Public Library. Participants will get to sample something "you probably haven't had before." In testing, she notes, many recipes are tasty but clearly from a different time -- "like seeing an antique dress, and you just know it's an antique dress, even though still beautiful and still wearable."

-- Becca Martin-Brown


NAN What's Up on 03/10/2017

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