Cape Cod's Nature Place

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History


Ovens on the Edge; An Experimental Archaeology of Baking


Digging Into the Past

Ovens on the Edge; An Experimental Archaeology of Baking


Archaeologist & Food Historian

Paula Marcoux

 Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 1pm.

Free with Museum Admission

Both English and French colonists on the Atlantic coast of North America described bread as the "staff of life" and went to considerable lengths to ensure themselves a steady supply. However, few practical details of baking endeavors are to be found in either period chronicles or archaeological reports.

Food historian Paula Marcoux will describe how she pieced together the story of the earliest colonial ovens by complementing traditional approaches to historical research with experimental oven-building and baking trials. This presentation provides very specific, physical depictions of how various folks deployed an array of strategies and adapted their technologies, and ultimately their expectations, to local conditions. The investigation and recreation of Cape Cod's earliest documented French pastry (1606) proved pivotal in Paula's research.


Paula Marcoux is a food historian who lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The author of Cooking with Fire (Storey, 2014), she has worked professionally as an archaeologist, cook, and bread-oven builder. She is food editor and columnist at edible South Shore & South Coast magazine, writes on food history topics for popular and academic audiences, and consults with museums, film producers, and publishers. She is the director of the Plymouth Center for Restoration Arts and Forgotten Trades (CRAFT), an educational non-profit focused on the transmission of hand-skills, where she leads workshops on natural leavening, historic baking, and wood-fired cooking.

For more information please call the Museum at 508-896-3867 ext. 133.