The Library of Congress is the biggest library in the world. It has 500,000 food books alone. A library with that many books has a lot of librarians, with expertise in just about every region, culture, and period of history you can think of. Since 1949, the library’s cooking club has drawn on that diversity of knowledge to bring together foods from all over the world. But by the 2000s, the club had lost steam and was nearly defunct. Could librarian Laverne Page and database specialist Shirley Loo save the club? Dan travels to the club’s annual holiday luncheon to find out — and to share some of his favorite librarian jokes.
Here is Shirley's recipe for Tomato Surprise:
Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:
- "When You're Away" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt
- "Comin' For A Change" by Stephen Sullivan
- "Mouse Song" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt
- "Fresh Air" by Erick Anderson
- "Dreamin'" by Erick Anderson
Photos courtesy of Shirley Loo and Laverne Page.
Laverne Page: My first presidency might have been...
Dan Pashman: It's in the book here, isn't it?
Laverne Page: It's... is it?
Dan Pashman: Isn't it? Let's — hang on.
Laverne Page: 1970... oh, no. This isn't cookbook. This isn't the program.
Dan Pashman: This is Laverne Page, she’s been a librarian at the Library of Congress for 47 years. And she’s been a leading member of the library’s cooking club for almost as long.
Dan Pashman: Yes, cooking club presidents… I see a Christmas Luncheon Chairperson. 1966 started this.
Laverne Page: Which means you were the vice president...
Dan Pashman: Okay.
Laverne Page: And then the president.
Dan Pashman: Cooking Club President, so let's see.
Laverne Page: '82.
Dan Pashman: Laverne Page, 1986.
Laverne Page: ‘86, okay. And then later in the 2000s I was president for about 4 years straight.
Dan Pashman: Laverne was president for four years in the 2000s because nobody else wanted the job. But it wasn’t always that way. The Library of Congress Cooking Club was formed in 1949. Librarians who are experts in just about every culture and region you can think of would come together to share foods from all over the world.
Laverne Page: The cooking club developed from this simple club into something very elaborate.
Dan Pashman: For decades, the club was an institution at the library. But then, it started losing members. By the 2000s it was just about dead. Then a few years ago, Laverne decided to try to bring the cooking club back. She enlisted help from another longtime club member and partner in crime:
Laverne Page: I’m Laverne.
Shirley Loo: And I’m Shirley.
Dan Pashman: How often do you and Laverne joke about the fact that your names are Laverne and Shirley.
Shirley Loo: We never joke about it.
Dan Pashman: It’s classic.
Laverne Page: Mm-hmm.
Shirley Loo: I used to watch it.
Dan Pashman: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: This is The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies it’s for eaters. I’m Dan Pashman. Each week on our show we obsess about food to learn more about people. Do you have a food related dispute with a friend of loved one, that we could help you work out? Well, you are in luck. Cause we're getting ready to do another call-in show. You tell us the problem and I'll attempt to solve it. This time with the help of Eric Eddings and Brittany Luse, host of the podcast, For Colored Nerds. If you wan the chance to hash out your most divisive food related disagreements, right here on The Sporkful with Brittany, Eric, and me? Email me at, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks. All right. Let's get back into it.
Dan Pashman: The Library of Congress is the biggest library in the world. It has 500,000 food books alone. And if you lined up all its books on one shelf, that shelf would be 838 miles long! It would cover the entire width of Texas, with a few miles of books to spare for New Mexico and Louisiana.
Dan Pashman: And as you might guess, a library with that many books needs a lot of librarians. At the Library of Congress, there are experts in just about every region, culture, and period of history you can think of.
Dan Pashman: Now, on one hand, that’s really cool. It’s an extraordinarily diverse group. On the other hand, when you work in a place that big, it’s overwhelming. Most folks just stay in their departments. It can be hard to meet people. That’s where the Library of Congress Cooking Club comes in.
Dan Pashman: Laverne Page is a librarian in the African and Middle Eastern division. You heard her at the top of the show. She oversees the Southern African collection. Like I said, she’s been at the library and in the cooking club for more than 40 years.
Laverne Page: It was a social entity. It allowed you to meet people from other units. and also to learn about other jobs. So this might help to help you with your job because you would know who to call for something, some copyright question, a cataloging issue. You would now these people. And you might have met them in the cooking club, they ended up being essential work colleagues and also personal friends.
Dan Pashman: The cooking club was founded in 1949. In the 70s and 80s, they had a big holiday luncheon every year. Laverne helped put together elaborate themes — one year it was a Harlem Renaissance Christmas. The club had more than 70 members, and they printed cookbooks with their recipes, everything from "Lima Bean Ragout", to "Javanese Banana Pancakes", to the Ethiopian spice berbere.
Dan Pashman: Each year a big silver serving spoon was passed from the outgoing president to the incoming president.
Laverne Page: We had the World’s Fare. F-A-R-E. And we had tables, and on each table a continent was represented. I do recall for Antarctica we had ice cream and meringues.
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS]
Laverne Page: But for South America, beans. Whatever it is that the chair of the South America group thought of to bring, we had that. That was new for the library and what it evolved into was an activity that engaged the library. We have language tables here, which means that at lunchtime you got together and you might study Chinese or Urdu. And so these language tables then would offer food. So by us having this World’s Fare it was interesting, it was different, and then it’s translated into something else that becomes more of a library focus.
Dan Pashman: But as the years went on, the cooking club’s original members started retiring, and younger staffers didn’t seem as interested. Then in the 2000s, there were budget cuts and a hiring freeze at the library.
Laverne Page: The staff organization started on a decline. They just gradually lost strength. And I think that the cooking club was a part of that decline.
Dan Pashman: When the president of the cooking club retired, nobody wanted the job. The club went a couple of years without meeting at all. It was basically dead. Laverne had been the president of the cooking club a couple of times already over the years. So she called together a core group of eight or 10 people to revive it. They started scheduling talks and programs. And slowly but surely, it started coming back to life.
Dan Pashman: So you acted as the president for several years in a row during a period that the cooking club was in decline, as you say, there was a leadership void…
Laverne Page: A leadership void.
Dan Pashman: What motivated you to do that? Why was it so important to you?
Laverne Page: Because the club itself is important to me. I still think that these staff organizations are very good for the morale of the staff. They give you something to do during your lunch break.
Dan Pashman: But I wonder if there’s something specific for you about food? Because there are a lot of groups in the Library of Congress. You could have said, you know what, maybe the cooking club is in decline. I’m gonna go find another group that’s thriving to meet people in. But you spend a lot of your own personal time and effort to keep this club in particular going.
Laverne Page: Why? Definitely back in the 70s I think I needed this club. And I do know that since girlhood, I’ve been interested in food. I used to cook with my best friend. We would get our Betty Crocker cookbooks and come to my house actually, and we would just make things. And when my father would talk about us as kids, as little girls, he would always talk about that. Getting together and just making cookies and making things. I’m amazed that they let us mess up so much food to experiment. Then, we decided to go up and down the street.
Laverne Page: This is a while ago, Meridian, Mississippi summertime. We would get an onion from one person, we’d get chicken next from somebody else and we’d get a potato from somebody else, and we’d bring it back to the backyard and we would cook. Now I”m also thinking about the fire. They weren’t worried about us playing with fire? But they weren’t. We cooked at home in Memphis, and we cooked in the summer in Meridian.
Dan Pashman: That idea of getting an onion from one person and a chicken from the next — it’s a communal meal, where everyone comes together and contributes. And Laverne saw the same thing in the cooking club. That’s a big part of why she fell in love with it.
Dan Pashman: But Laverne isn’t the only hero in our story. Yes, it’s true, as I said, there’s also a Shirley. If Laverne is the visionary, full of ideas? Shirley Loo is the person you go to when you want to get things done. She’s been working on databases at the library for nearly 50 years. Her first turn as president of the cooking club came in 1974. Like Laverne, Shirley stepped in to keep the cooking club going, and picked up the slack when Laverne’s husband passed away.
Shirley Loo: What drew me to the club, I’ve always been interested in cooking. Not that I’m a great cook but I love eating. I love seeing what other people prepare. I’m always on the lookout for something that’s easy to prepare, tastes good, and looks like you spent a lot of time but you didn’t. That’s the kind I like. Not the ones where you really spent a lot of time preparing it.
Dan Pashman: Right. So I have here the Library of Congress Cooking Club Cookbook from 1975. There’s a recipe that you, yourself, submitted. Can you tell me about the recipe?
Shirley Loo: Yes, it was a recipe that my supervisor, Janet Biggs, had given to me. I think I must have asked her when I tasted it at some party we had. And it was something easy. There were so few ingredients. You just needed a can of stewed tomatoes, which I always have in the kitchen. You needed some jello, a box of jello. You needed some salt, some vinegar, and that’s it!
Dan Pashman: What’s it called?
Shirley Loo: It’s called "Tomato Surprise".
Dan Pashman: I love foods with the word "surprise" in them. I think more foods need to have the word "surprise" in them.
Shirley Loo: Plus, you cook it in the can.
Dan Pashman: Oh my God. Let me look at this recipe.
Shirley Loo: So there are fewer things to wash afterwards.
Dan Pashman: So you take a can of stewed tomatoes, a box of strawberry jello, a little salt, and a little vinegar. You heat the tomatoes in the saucepan, add the jello — adding the jello? Add salt and vinegar and boil, then you chill in stewed tomatos can until firm.
Shirley Loo: In the can. Yes.
Dan Pashman: So what does it taste like? Is it tomato jello?
Shirley Loo: It tastes good. I haven’t made it in a while but now that I've see the recipe again I’ll make it again. I should have brought it to the party today, people would have liked it.
Dan Pashman: And I know the cooking club fell on hard times in recent year.
Shirley Loo: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: There was a little bit of lack of leadership.
Shirley Loo: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: and you and Laverne have stepped in and come back into it to take over it — to fill that void.
Shirley Loo: Yes.
Dan Pashman: It seems like it’s a lot of work.
Shirley Loo: Yes, it is.
Dan Pashman: Why do you do it?
Shirley Loo: I guess, it’s part of me that tends to step in where I feel I’m needed. And I’ve said to members, once we get a higher number of members we’re going to have elections.
Dan Pashman: Do you think it’ll be hard at all to let go of the reins?
Shirley Loo: I’m gonna retire.
Dan Pashman: Shirley quick to add that she’s been saying she’s going to retire since 2015. But for now, she’s there, and the Cooking Club carries on. One of the most active members is Lillian Gassie. She works for the Congressional Research Service. She does research for the members of Congress. She was attracted to the club by its diversity of people and food cultures.
Lillian Gassie: The Mediterranean diet thing which was interesting. And then, you know, Indian cooking, and the ones about kosher food? I’ve always wanted to know what exactly it means. And I think I was the one who asked the most questions about all this kinds of thing because I grew up in an Islamic country, in Malaysia, and they have all these things about pork
Dan Pashman: Halal.
Lillian Gassie: Halal. And so I had a lot of questions about things like about cultural differences in food. And I gave a presentation, myself, about how to wrap rice dumplings using bamboo leaves. I did all the preparation at home. I brought the bamboo leaves that were already soaked, the rice that was already seasoned. All we did was learn how to wrap it which was an art. And then while I was there I learned something new because apparently the Filipinos did the same thing but they wrapped it differently. So I learned another method of wrapping. That was Francine. She said, "Oh, I know what this is. I’ve done this before, but we don’t wrap it like the way you show. So let me show you how it’s done." So that was kind of fun and everyone got into it. You know, conference room and we're all wrapping rice. So that was a lot fun, yeah.
Dan Pashman: So you’ve got the Jewish guy teaching the Malaysian woman about kosher. You’ve got the Malaysian woman teaching everyone else about dumplings, and the Filipino woman teaches the Malaysian woman something else about dumplings.
Lillian Gassie: Right.
Dan Pashman: It’s a lot of learning.
Lillian Gassie: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: What are some of the — I know there are always exceptions, but what are some of the common personality traits of someone who would want to be librarians?
Lillian Gassie: I think we tend to be collaborative. I was a social worker before, and I got so burnt out I wanted to go some place where I don’t have to deal with people. And I ended up being a librarian, which requires dealing with people. It’s not the whole stereotype that you only work with books, it’s not true.
Dan Pashman: I would think that this career would especially appealing to people who are just sort of very curious.
Lillian Gassie: Oh yeah.
Dan Pashman: There’s something about the cooking club that feels quintessentially librarian to me.
Lillian Gassie: Really?
Dan Pashman: Because it's like smart people who really just get a lot of pleasure from learning things.
Lillian Gassie: Yeah, that’s for sure. And we are open to new things. I mean, nobody in the cooking club would say no to trying something new. And that’s what I’ve seen before. They were like, "Oh, you know, you brought something interesting, I want to try it." That’s the attitude and I think they want to learn, they want to try something new. And they always ask you like, "How did you do that?”
Dan Pashman: Coming up, I’ll attend the Library of Congress Cooking Club’s holiday luncheon. This event is a big opportunity for Laverne and Shirley to bring in new members, to find people to carry on the tradition. So how many people will show up? Plus, I’ll attempt to make friends by telling librarian jokes.
CLIP (SHIRLEY LOO): Oh boy, I’ll have to file those in my database.
Dan Pashman: Stick around.
Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman. On last week’s show I talk with vegan cookbook author Bryant Terry. When he wrote his first book, Vegan Soul Kitchen, he had a hard time getting it published. He says editors just didn’t understand the connection between Black people and veganism. But Bryant sees it differently:
CLIP (BRYANT TERRY): My first contact with veganism, I mean, it was Black Seven Day Adventists. And then after I had the obligatory being fascinated with the Nation of Islam and learning about their health ministry, as much as people like to vilify African-American diets and and talk about how artery clogging and unhealthy it is, those are reductive ways of thinking about a large, diverse, and complex culinary traditions. But the foundations, the core of a lot of, you know, traditional Black diets are largely vegetable-centric.
Dan Pashman: Bryant also tells me about his new publishing imprint, and we talk about the “immersive party experience” that is his new cookbook, Black Food. That one’s up for you now. Get it wherever you got this one.
Dan Pashman: Okay, back to the Library of Congress. Before we return to the cooking club, a few more fun facts about the library, itself…
Dan Pashman: The smallest book in the library is Old King Cole. It's 1/25” x 1/25”, or about the size of the period at the end of your last text. The oldest written material there is a cuneiform tablet from about 2000 B.C. And, they have one of the world’s three perfect copies of the Gutenberg bible printed on vellum. Okay, trivia time's over. Back to the Library of Congress Cooking Club and my visit there, which took place a few years ago…
(CLIP OF LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY THEME SONG)
Dan Pashman: Laverne and Shirley were determined to make their dreams come true. Doing it their way. When I arrive, they’re setting up for the cooking club’s holiday luncheon in a conference room. There are six large round tables, plus a long table at one end where people put the food they bring. I can tell Laverne and Shirley are a little stressed. Laverne rushes in with decorations saved from past luncheons.
Laverne Page: I work in another building and so this is my second trip over here.
Dan Pashman: Oh jeez.
Laverne Page: But I came over here and I brought my items, and then I remembered, you know, I left things back at my desk.
Dan Pashman: Right. Can I give you a hand? Can I help you out with something?
Laverne Page: I'm just gonna put these under the table…
Dan Pashman: Laverne rushes back out to get the bag she forgot. As people start arriving and placing food on the end table, Shirley worries about having enough space for all the food, enough chairs for all the guests. The room starts to fill up and I start chatting with people. Dr. Sandra Charles is the library’s chief medical officer. Yes, the Library of Congress is so big they need to have a physician on staff.
Dan Pashman: What are the most common work-related injuries at the Library of Congress?
Sandra Charles: Hmm. Let’s see, most common, probably musculoskeletal things related to materials handling.
Dan Pashman: Has anyone ever come in with a paper cut?
Sandra Charles: Yes, but it took me about 10 years being here before that happened, although everybody thought that's all I would see when I started working here.
Dan Pashman: So I see some ginger beer on display, that’s your contribution?
Sandra Charles: Yes it is.
Dan Pashman: I love ginger beer. Have you ever had a dark and stormy?
Sandra Charles: I have. I have. My children introduced me to it, a.k.a. Moscow mules.
Dan Pashman: Right. Yes, yes.
Sandra Charles: Plus, I have a son who’s a bartender.
Dan Pashman: Oh, so you definitely know. What do you love about the cooking club?
Sandra Charles: Oh, I learn a lot. It was very long before I started to actually cook on my own because my grandmother lived with me even after I was married and had children. And she did all the cooking and she wouldn’t even let me close. And the cooking club has given me a chance to experience a lot of ethnicities, a lot of little tips and tricks.
Dan Pashman: Is there one food or dish that sticks out particularly that you learned about or experienced here that is memorable?
Sandra Charles: Honestly, it's something very simple. It was a pesto. Because I always said, "What is in pesto?" And it's really not very different from what we call green seasoning in the Caribbean. Where you just basically get all the herbs and chop them together with a little pepper and vinegar, and preserve it, and use it for seasoning. And if you’re in a pinch or in a hurry, you don’t have to start doing your preparation from scratch. So...
Dan Pashman: Right.
Sandra Charles: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: Here’s a pro tip for navigating a party where you don’t know many people; prep a bit of material in advance. Maybe you have a funny story that you think this crowd'd gonna appreciate. On your way to the party, tell the story in your head once or twice until you’ve really got it down. Then use it over and over again at the party to fool people into thinking you’re a real live relatable human being. At the cooking club luncheon, as I worked the room, I favored the guests with some librarian jokes I found online.
Dan Pashman: How many librarians does it take to change a lightbulb?
Person 1: I have no idea.
Dan Pashman: Usually, 645.5 but sometimes 808.882.
Person 1: Oh, clever, clever.
Dan Pashman: Why are libraries the tallest buildings? Because they have the most stories.
Person 2: Oh gosh. Oh boy. Okay. I’ll have to file those in my database.
Dan Pashman: Did you hear about the librarian who slipped on the library floor?
Person 3: No.
Dan Pashman: She was in the non-friction section.
Dan Pashman: By now the room is full and so was the food table. Shrimp cocktail, lentil salad, potato kugel, which is like a Jewish hash brown casserole, raw collards with ginger, nasi lemak, which is a Malaysian rice dish, Singapore noodles, crab parmesan tacos in a ginger lime dressing, and a lot more. And everything was delicious. People were filling their plates and finding old friends.
Dan Pashman: Jeannie Drewes is chief of binding care and mass de-acidification. Basically, that means when a really really old book is falling apart, she puts it back together to preserve it. But what exactly is de-acidification?
Jeannie Drewes: That is the neutralization of the acid in paper to extend the life of the paper.
Dan Pashman: So you do that to books so they don’t fall apart?
Jeannie Drewes: That’s right. So I call it ant-acid for books.
Dan Pashman: Right. Gotcha. [LAUGHS]
Jeannie Drewes: Because it does actually exactly the same thing and it’s actually the same chemical.
Dan Pashman: Can you describe to me, what’s a real tough challenge that’s gonna land on your desk? What’s the worst case scenario that something you’re like, "Boy, this is really gonna be a job."
Jeannie Drewes: When the book is all broken up into pieces and there isn’t another copy available, we have the only copy, that’s like my worst nightmare.
Dan Pashman: And what do you do?
Jeannie Drewes: Well, sometimes we piece it together and then digitize it. Sometimes it’s a lost cause and we can’t do anything. But I try to save as much of the intellectual content of everything that comes across my desk.
Dan Pashman: So book binding and deacidification, these are your areas of expertise.
Jeannie Drewes: Right.
Dan Pashman: And what do you like about it?
Jeannie Drewes: I love that I can share what I know to help people. And then, of course, here at the Library of Congress I’m saving not only national history but I'm also world history. And I don’t like to repeat the errors fo the past, so what I want to do is make sure that the past is available so that we learn from our mistakes and our good things.
Dan Pashman: How are we doing on that?
Jeannie Drewes: Hmmm…
Dan Pashman: [LAUGHS]
Jeannie Drewes: Some of us I think are doing well.
Dan Pashman: Jeannie’s been in the cooking club for 10 years, which, as she puts it, still kinda makes her a newcomer compared to people like Laverne and Shirley. One of Jeannie's favorite ever cooking club events was a talk about pies. A chef came in and encouraged the librarians to experiment. That led Jeannie to make a pretty radical change to her homemade pie crust.
Jeannie Drewes: And when I was offered some bear fat, by one of my friends who is a hunter, it is the best pastry I’ve ever made.
Dan Pashman: Still Jeannie feels like a rookie. But at this luncheon there were some real newbies. Haim Gottschalk is a cataloger in the Israel-Judaica section. You remember earlier I talked with Lilian, she’s the woman from Malaysia who was super interested in the talk about kosher rules? Chaim gave that talk. He’s part of a new wave of librarians who came on board after that 15-year hiring freeze ended. This was his first year at the library and in the cooking club.
Haim Gottschalk: I joined for a couple reasons. I enjoy just having a chance to meet people from other sections and other divisions cause otherwise I’m stuck in my own four corners. And I think this is a great way of meeting new people. And what I enjoy is that my wife loves to cook, this is something I can share with her as well. And just bring home new ideas, the things I’ve learned, and it’s fun.
Dan Pashman: What have been some of the highlights?
Haim Gottschalk: I learned a little bit more about Indian cooking. The first session I attended was about the difference between spices and herbs. And I thought that was a fascinating thing.
Dan Pashman: Donna Jones-Bey works for the Congressional Research Service. Their work is pretty confidential. Members of Congress can request information on just about anything, like scientific data or the history of a certain policy. Or, Donna tells me, maybe there’s a phrase that an official is using in a lot of speeches and they want to know where it comes from.
Donna Jones-Bey: There was one where I was asked to get the origin of the phrase "brain freeze". No, not brain freeze. It was — oh, it was "butt freeze".
Dan Pashman: Butt freeze?
Donna Jones-Bey: It was something like that. It was like a not common saying, and nobody — they couldn’t figure out who has said it first, where it originated from.
Dan Pashman: Is it wrong if I google it on my phone? Is that insulting to do it in the Library of Congress?
Donna Jones-Bey: Brain freeze... no, it wasn’t a brain freeze… Brain what?
Person 4: Brain fart!
Dan Pashman: Brain fart.
Donna Jones-Bey: Yes. Yes! At some point someone wanted to know where did this come from.
Dan Pashman: So it was almost as if the person quoting the term themselves had a brain fart.
Donna Jones-Bey: Yes, yes.
Dan Pashman: And do you remember the answer?
Donna Jones-Bey: It came from a general.
Dan Pashman: Okay.
Donna Jones-Bey: That’s as much as I can say.
Dan Pashman: Okay.
Donna Jones-Bey: It came from a known general.
Dan Pashman: And how long have you been in the cooking club?
Donna Jones-Bey: I’m not a member yet of the cooking club.
Dan Pashman: Well, come on!
Donna Jones-Bey: I was invited as a visitor.
Dan Pashman: Oh well, welcome.
Donna Jones-Bey: And I think I might come on board because I had fun today.
Dan Pashman: Yeah.
Donna Jones-Bey: Nice people.
Dan Pashman: What did you like about it?
Donna Jones-Bey: I thought it was nice. You know what I liked most of all besides the company? I like that they identified what each item on the menu was and the ingredients.
Dan Pashman: What were the highlights?
Donna Jones-Bey: Well, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or slight anybody but I really, really, really, really enjoyed the cranberry sauce.
Dan Pashman: Ohh.
Donna Jones-Bey: And the second best was tomato soup.
Dan Pashman: Okay.
Donna Jones-Bey: They tasted homemade and like a good cook who knew what they were doing made them.
Dan Pashman: During the luncheon I didn’t talk with Laverne and Shirley, they were very focused on overseeing the even. But after everyone left, I checked in with them.
Laverne Page: Oh, I couldn’t begin to tell you what I ate. It was so much and unexpected.
Dan Pashman: For me, as my first cooking club event, seemed like a success. You got a great turnout, the food was delicious, a lot of people seemed to be having fun. How does it make you feel?
Laverne Page: I’m glad that we got the turnout. I’m glad that people did participate. It’s good.
Shirley Loo: Dan, I was glad to hear that you ate something at the luncheon.
Dan Pashman: Oh Shirley, I didn’t get into this job by accident.
Shirley Loo: Mm-hmm?
Dan Pashman: So if I’m going to interview people about food, I have to eat something.
Shirley Loo: Mm-hmm. Okay.
Dan Pashman: It’s my journalistic duty, I think.
Shirley Loo: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: How did you feel about luncheon?
Shirley Loo: It went well, there were times it was a little chaotic but it went fine. We had a great turnout and the food was good. So people kept bringing in food later and later. So one person had to take food half eaten because she came in so late.
Dan Pashman: So I know you put a lot of work into these events. How does it feel now that it’s over and it seems like a success?
Shirley Loo: I'm happy because we a number of new members, people who had not joined before. Plus, a number of current members renewed. And I only brought ten membership forms because only two people said they were going to pay money at this event and we used up all of it.
Dan Pashman: This episode was recorded five years ago, so now we have some updates. I'm happy to tell you that The Library of Congress Cooking Club is still going strong, even through Covid. In 2017 they had about 60 members. Today, they're up to 114 members!
Dan Pashman: As for Laverne, she stepped down as co-president of the club, and being involved is a bit harder now that she works from home. But she is still a member. In 2017, Shirley celebrated 50 years at the Library of Congress. Soon after, she announced her retirement — although she stayed on as the Cooking Club president until a few months later, when they held new elections. But they couldn’t get rid of Shirley so easily. She’s still vice president of the club. The current president is Phoebe Coleman.
Dan Pashman: Phoebe says they're not planning a holiday luncheon this year because of Covid, but she tells us the club still holds lectures, now mostly online. There was a recent one called “A Tour of Dietary History and Trends in America.”
Dan Pashman: Next week, we’ve got a very fun episode for you. I’m gonna document my attempt to make a viral TikTok, with help from one of TikTok’s biggest food stars. My Tok — is that what you call it? Is that a singular contribution to TikTok is they Tok? Can we go with that? My Tok will involve pie. You don’t want to miss it, it’ll be up next week.
Dan Pashman: Also, we need you to call in for our New Year’s spectacular. What do you resolve to eat more of in the new year, and why? Send me your New Year’s food resolution as a voice memo. Include your name and where you’re from, and send it to email@example.com. We might include you in our year-end episode! Thanks.