What is a Recipe? And so it begins!

Lady Ann Fanshawe’s recipe book, Wellcome Library WMS 7113. Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

We are brimming with excitement here at The Recipes Project for this is the week… THE WEEK… when our Virtual Conversation, ‘What is a Recipe?’, kicks off.

Over the next month–until 10 July–we have some wonderful events coming up. Each week, we’ll post all the ongoing activities right here on the blog, followed by summaries of the discussions on event days. You can join in the conversation here on the blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Pinterest… Comment directly on the presentations, or on whatever social media you like using best. Just make sure we can find you with the hashtags #recipesconf and #recipesproject!

Our first day is 2 June, with a cracking line-up from Siobhan Carlson on growing potatoes, Harry Hayfield on recreating modern recipes in the past (yes, you read that correctly!), Glasgow Archives and Special Collections, Cardiff Special Collections and Archives, and Provincial Archives of Alberta.  Project descriptions follow below. All of these tasty treats will appear throughout the day on Twitter, Blogs and Facebook.

But our main event is a livestreamed panel discussion from the Berkshire conference on the subject of ‘Repast and Present: Food History Inside and Outside the Academy‘.  This will be on Facebook and YouTube from 8:30-10:00 a.m. (EST).

Links and details will be posted on 2 June, both on the blog and Twitter. Please check in with us again for more details, but a provisional programme for the entire month can be found here: What is a Recipe Programme Outline.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you over the next month!


“Repast and Present: Food History Inside and Outside the Academy”, Amanda Herbert, Amanda Moniz, Tandra Taylor, Zara Anishanslin, Paula Johnson, Marissa Nicosia

This panel examines how educators use culinary studies to engage both students and the general public in study of the past.  We will explore the promises and challenges of using culinary studies in this way: how do we facilitate complex intellectual conversations about consumables? How do culinary sources foster engagement with students (traditional and non-traditional) and how do they convey the value of our work to the general public? How do we ensure that we are telling the stories of marginalized or underrepresented people?  What are the risks and rewards when we seek to understand the past by recovering its culinary landscape?

“Spuddenly Farming: A reconstruction of Rev. Mr. Cochran’s Potato experiment, 1791”, Siobhan Carlson

Following the American Revolution, the British crown gave Loyalists land to farm throughout the Canadian Maritimes. This migration gave rise to the emergence of an English print culture in the region that included agricultural recipes. Amongst these entries, on the 24th of March, 1792, the Royal Gazette and Miscellany of the Island of Saint John, printed the experiment entitled, “To determine whether it is best to plant large or small Cuttings of Potatoes ; in a Letter from the Rev. Mr. Cochran to the Secretary of the Agricultural Society for the County of Hants, dated Winsor, Feb. 1791.” The experiment outlines the best methods to grow Prince Edward Island’s famous export – the potato. The goal of this project is to reconstruct the experiment, to think about/consider the experience of Maritime Settlers.

“Henri’s Kitchen”, Harry Hayfield

Harry Hayfield, a resident of Ceredigion in Wales, has long had an interest in the stories of the Musketeers which are set in early 17th century France, this led in turn to an interest in the Stuart period of history and joining a living history group. However, as a registered carer for his grandparents he is unable to get to many of the events and yet wanted to do something to help. One day he was watching “The Little Paris Kitchen” broadcast on the BBC and thought “These are recipes designed by the French, therefore could they be converted in the 17th century versions of themselves?”. Doing some research he found that they could, and therefore will contribute four of the recipes as shown in the programme as if cooked by Henri de Ceredigion (Harry’s Stuart persona) a cadet member of the Musketeers, with able assistance from Planchet, his manservant cum stable lad.

“Recipes from the Sound Archive”, MMSH (Maison méditerranéenne des sciences de l’homme)

If you understand spoken French, the MMSH sound archive has a monthly feature on old recipes collected through interviews. The one posted just in time for launch day, by Mathilde Bresc, on is on “Les <<Moines>>, Ou Quennelles de Pommes de Terres”. (The ‘Monks’, or Portato Dumplings). In this clip from August 1976, Professor Jean-Claude Bouvier interviews an old farmer, Monsieur Mathieu, from the village of Lus-la-Croix-Haute in Provence. The MMSH will be back mid-month with a post in English on sound archives recipes.

Elizabeth Grey, A Choice Manuall. Frontispiece of 1671 edition.

Provincial Archives of Alberta (Canada)

Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, the PAA will be highlighting some its holdings on food history over the month. They will be starting off with a Facebook post on ‘What is a Party without Food?’

University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections

Will be showcasing recipes and food in their collections throughout the month.

Cardiff University Special Collections and Archives

Will also be drawing attention to recipes and food in their collections over the course of the month.


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