All posts by Lisa Smith

A historian of gender and medicine in eighteenth-century France and England, Lisa Smith (Lecturer in Digital History, University of Essex) has published widely on leaky bodies, pain, fertility, and the household. She is finishing a book on “Domestic Medicine: Gender, Health and the Household in Eighteenth Century England and France”. In addition to developing an online database of the Sir Hans Sloane Correspondence, she is a co-investigator on a crowd-sourcing recipes transcription project. She blogs at The Sloane Letters Blog and Wonders & Marvels and tweets as @historybeagle.

Sweet Endings

Source: Wikimedia Commons, Pastern.

The Recipes Project team would like to thank everyone who participated in our month-long Virtual Conversation on ‘What is a Recipe?’ It was a wonderful month in which had a chance to explore a question near and dear to our hearts, as well as to meet (virtually) people working on recipes in a wide-range of ways.

On 10 July 2017, we hosted a two-part discussion on Facebook Live, in which the RP editors (Amanda Herbert, Elaine Leong, Lisa Smith, and Laurence Totelin) joined Elma Brenner at the Wellcome Library, London. The first part is available here, or on Facebook.

In this section, we chatted about some of our favourite recipe books at the Wellcome Library, as well as four themes that came up during the conference: recipe-like things, reconstruction, celebrity, and stories.

Laurence also put together a great Pinterest board on Cleopatra as a celebrity endorsement of products.

In part 2, we opened with a discussion about how different archives–the Wellcome Library and the Folger Shakespeare Library–have collected recipe books, followed by an examination of two sources that Laurence brought in from her own collection: an early twentieth-century advertisement for Allenbury’s food (infant formula) and a 1960s Australian edition of Mrs. Beeton. These sources led us to a conversation on empire, race, and recipes.

We then took questions from our Facebook audience. Unfortunately, Facebook has lost our video! Some questions were quite general (e.g. how can you start researching recipes), while others were much more specific (e.g. why do we assume recipes only mean food today?).

For those of you interested in researching recipes, please take a look through our blog, which is a snapshot of recipes scholarship. Our First Monday Library Chat series also offers a glimpse into various recipe collections around the world. We also have a Zotero bibliography in which several recipe scholars have shared details of  useful primary and secondary sources. And, eventually, we will have an exhibition site of our entire virtual conversation — so please stay tuned!

As to why we think of recipes being food… We considered, in particular, the ways in which the term ‘recipes’ is used in a lot of ways, even today — such as IFTTT ‘recipes’ or recipes for paint. It’s just that these occur within more niche groups. And when it comes to science and medicine, the search for precision has led to the use of the term ‘formula’ rather than ‘recipe’.

A fine place to conclude our many discussions on ‘what is a recipe?’… We still can’t pin down the term, as flexible boundaries are useful when looking at the subject. But the distinction between formula and recipe also links back to our earliest discussions on recipes being alive and in the wild. We can’t detach experience, embodiment, and constant change from the concept of ‘recipe’. Whatever a recipe is, it is NOT precision.

And that is what makes them so much fun.

Thank you once again for your presentations, your chats, and your interest that have made our virtual conversation such a success! Regular blogging resumes next Tuesday. Please don’t be a stranger.

Day 10: ‘What is a Recipe?’ Final Event

WMS 4051, Wellcome Library, London.

And so we must come to an end…

For the past month, we’ve been regularly feasting on delicious presentations on and indulging in wonderful conversations about ‘What is a Recipe?’

On July 10, we’re going out on a high note, with two livestreamed panel discussions of about 45 minutes hosted at the Wellcome Library, London. RP editors Amanda Herbert, Elaine Leong, Lisa Smith, and Laurence Totelin, along with Elma Brenner (Research Development Specialist, Wellcome Collection), will discuss ‘What is a Recipe?’

The first panel will kick off around 2:30 p.m. (UK time) with an examination of some recipe book highlights from the Wellcome Library, followed by our thoughts on ‘What is a Recipe?’, drawing on our virtual conversations.

The second panel will start around 4:00 p.m. (UK time) with an examination of some recipe-related objects, followed by a round-table discussion in which we respond to your questions. So please send in your questions — here, on Twitter, on Facebook…

Details about the live-streaming and timing to follow. We will update on Twitter, Facebook, and here!

Please join us in bringing our conversation to a close.

 

Day 8: What is a Recipe?

Une Boulanger, A female Baker. Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

A lovely summer day ahead–what awaits us on Day 8 of ‘What is a Recipe?’ Lots of videos! And also bread and gingerbread, and more!

Let’s kick off with a blog post that takes us on a trip to Wales… Lisa Tallis, from the Special Collections and Archives at the University of Cardiff, offers a blog post on their delicious collections, from brewing to farriery. She examines recipes from the perspective of Welsh-English bilingualism and cross-cultural travel between the two countries.

The Wellcome Library will be joining from around 11:30 on Twitter (@WellcomeLibrary) to consider: what is a medieval recipe? How did medieval people create and use recipes?

Siobhan Carlson’s eighteenth-century potato experiment, ‘Spuddenly Farming’, continues on Twitter and Instagram. She includes some videos of her experiment to show the differences between the cuttings. Spoiler: it’s very noticeable! It certainly seems like there just might be a recipe for growing better potatoes…

Molly-Taylor Polesky has a lovely ‘Interview with a Baker’ on YouTube. She visited a historical bakery in Berlin (Alte Bäckerei Pankow) and spoke to a master baker there, who tells us (among other things) that ‘Recipes are an art.’ Make sure to turn on the Close Captioning for English subtitles!

Un Boulanger, A Baker
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

 

Over at her new blog, Cooking up the Archives, Deborah Lawton will be exploring ‘A Recipe is a Tasty History Lesson’. Indeed.  In this she looks at a gingerbread recipe and how it provides opportunities to discuss wide-ranging historical information. (She also has a taster from last week in which she ruminates on #recipesconf.)

Gingerbread mould, Alsatian, 1650. Credit: Musée du pain d’épices et de l’art populaire alsacien.

Edith Snook and her team at the Early Modern Maritime Recipes project (Annabelle Babineau, Karim Baccouche, and Siobhan Carlson) will have a video on ‘Edward Winslow’s Receipt for Gingerbread Cakes’.  They will prepare a nineteenth-century recipe found in the account book of Loyalist and early Fredericton settler Edward Winslow. Along the way, they will think about  recipes and communities, how recipes bring things together—ingredients, tools, methods, flavours, tastes, people—and the tensions in these migrations across political, geographic, and cultural spaces.  (Link here.) You can also follow their discussion about the video on Twitter, with @BellePepper1, @Spuddenly_Farm, and @Pamphilia2.

Maria Galanaki shares video of ‘A Hippocratic Menu’ on YouTube (here). In this, she demonstrates the preparation of three recipes–a starter, a main course, and a dessert—using ingredients reported in the Hippocratic Regimen.

And from ancient Greece, we head to the trenches of the First World War with Simon Walker who will have a video on ‘Classic French Soldiers’ Food’ for his series Feeding Under Fire. (Link to the video here.) He will also be joining in to discuss his video on Twitter as @Dark_Nocterna.

If you haven’t yet tried it, I encourage you to try ‘Cooking with Anger‘. Get your list of emotional ingredients from the Protag-o-matic and write a VERY short story in the blog post comments. After all, as the German Master Baker says, ‘Recipes are art.’

Lots to keep us busy at #recipesconf today. Please do come join in the conversation in the comments below, on Twitter (@historecipes and #recipesconf), or at the individual projects. We’d love to hear from you!