Examples of 18th century food. Courtesy photo by Julia Pierce

Food writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins’s will give an online presentation about her deep-dive into Martha Ballard’s diary, one of the most precious and insightful primary sources for what life was like in the Maine territory in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10, hosted by the Camden Public Library. The program is part of the library’s year-long Bicentennial Series. Please email [email protected] to request a Zoom link to attend.

Nancy Harmon Jenkins Courtesy photo

Martha Ballard is renowned for her diaries, which she kept in Hallowell on the banks of the Kennebec for almost half a century. She never wrote a recipe or even gave so much as a hint of cooking instructions. However, she still has a lot to say about how Mainers ate, what they grew, what they cooked, how they celebrated, and what they feared back when they were on the cusp of statehood. Nancy Harmon Jenkins casts a food historian’s eye on what Martha has to tell us and, as we gear up for Thanksgiving, brings us up to date on a Maine table that’s two centuries old.

Jenkins, a Camden native,  learned to read some years ago at the Camden Public Library. From there she went on to a career as a nationally known food writer and culinary historian, with eight cookbooks to her credit plus thousands of articles in publications from the New York Times to Saveur to Smithsonian. Most recently, she has published a long report on aquaculture in Maine for Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors.

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