Category Archives: Digital History

What is a Recipe? Week 2

Hi everyone, welcome to week 2 of our virtual conversation. First, thank you all for the interesting and stimulating conversation on Friday. For this recipe enthusiast, there were a large number of high-points. I particularly enjoyed the discussions on recipes and algorithms (thanks in particular to  for getting us started and for his participation via Twitter, see also Paul Engle’s guest blog post here). From watching the live-streamed ‘Repast and Present: Food History Inside and Outside the AcademyBerks 2017 panel (my first Facebook live event!), I also enjoyed learning about the rich and wide-ranging ways colleagues in classrooms, museums and on the internet use recipes as a vehicle for fostering conversations about constructing identities and our relationships with the past. (Lisa Smith has Storified the day over here.) I look forward to continuing these conversations with everyone in the coming week!

We’re delighted to host a rich programme for week 2 of ‘What is a Recipe?’. This week, our main event day is Wednesday June 7. see below for abstracts and summaries. In addition, our friends at the University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections (@UofGlasgowASC) and the Cardiff University Special Collections and Archives (@CUSpecialColls) will continue to share their holdings on twitter.

The Recipes Project team all look forward to seeing you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more. Don’t forget to #recipesconf on all Twitter conversations!

Titles and Abstracts:

‘Recipes in the Early Royal Society Archives’, Sietske Fransen (tweets 7 June, 13 June, and 20 June; blog post 5 July.)

The seventeenth-century fellows of the Royal Society were interested in every part of the natural world. They collected and reproduced a large variety of recipes, from the making of pigments to finding the recipe for the best French bread, to a recipe for universal medicine. During my research days in June, investigating the visual practice of the early Royal Society (www.mv.crassh.cam.ac.uk), I will tweet the various recipes I encounter in the archive of the Royal Society. At the end of those weeks the found recipes will feature in a blogpost on recipes in  the early Royal Society.

‘Spuddenly Farming: A reconstruction of Rev. Mr. Cochran’s Potato experiment, 1791’, Siobhan Carlson, 2 June, 7 June, 13 June. 15 June, 20 June, 24 June, 27 June, 3 July, 5 July

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.

‘Gwendolyn Brooks’ Fruit Salad’, Newberry Library podcast (Alex Teller)

We’re releasing a podcast episode about a fruit salad recipe by Gwendolyn Brooks on Wednesday, June 7 (the 100th anniversary of her birth). The audio will appear on Soundcloud and iTunes, but we’ll repurpose it (along with pictures of how the fruit salad came out when we made it) for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well.

‘Historical Recipes + Digital Humanities’, Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and  Medicine at the University of Minnesota (Lois Hendrickson and Emily Beck)

Recipe Workshop digital poster (from Carleton College June 2 Digital Humanities Conference. Our ‘poster’ session on the Historical  Recipes + Digital Humanities symposium, which was held at the Wangensteen.

 

 

 

Day 1: What is a Recipe?

The Potato Eaters, Van Gogh (1885). Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Here we are, Day 1 of our Virtual Conversation on “What is a Recipe?” How can you get involved? Read the blog posts, follow contributors on social media, watch the livestream — and comment away. You can always comment directly on a blog post or social media, or even below this post. We’ll find you! If you’re using social media, just remember our hashtags: #recipesconf and #recipesproject.

Our main event today is a livestreamed panel discussion from the Berkshire conference on the subject of ‘Repast and Present: Food History Inside and Outside the Academy‘, chaired by an RP co-editor, Amanda Herbert.  This will stream on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/therecipesproject/) from 8:30-10:00 a.m. (EST)/1:30-3:00 p.m. (U.K.). The panel will be taking questions from the virtual audience, so you’re very welcome to ask questions there or on Twitter.

But there are lots of other offerings. In particular, today has several potato-related posts — purely by accident, but serendipity is a wonderful thing.

On our own blog, Harry Hayfield takes us on a culinary time-travel from today to seventeenth-centur France, with “Henri’s kitchen: Cheese and Potato Nests”.

At Les carnets de la phonotheque, the recipe of the month — collected from an old farmer in Provence by Professor Jean-Claude Bouvier in 1976 — is on “Les <<Moines>> ou Quenelles de Pomme de Terre”.

Over on Twitter and Instagram, Siobhan Carlson will be sharing her adventures over the month as she tries A reconstruction of Rev. Mr. Cochran’s Potato experiment, 1791”, which took place in the Canadian Maritimes. You can follow her on Instagram as @SpuddenlyFarming and on Twitter as @Spuddenly_Farm.

The Provincial Archives of Alberta (Canada) asks, “What’s a Party without Food?” and celebrates the humble potato. The are also on Twitter as @ProvArchivesAB.

I can’t promise potatoes from the following contributors, but you never know! Cardiff University Special Collections and Archives will be joining in via Twitter: @CUSpecialColls. The University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections will be busy, too. They will have a blog post here for #recipesconf, as well as be participating on Twitter @UofGlasgowASC and Instagram @uofglasgowasc for #foodieFriday.

If potatoes aren’t your thing, maybe mathematics is. (There is no reason not to love both, of course!) Thanks to Thony Christie, who tweets as @rmathematicus, for posing a series of related questions when he promoted our project over at Whewell’s Gazette:

Having defined recipe so broadly, as a mathematician and logician, I then ask myself how does a recipe differ from an algorithm if at all? Personally I think the two words are in their essence synonyms and there isn’t really a difference. What do you think? How do you define the term recipe? Do recipes and algorithms differ? If so, how?

Answers on a card, please… Or, rather, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or below.

For further details on the projects discussed above (apart from Thony’s), please see our post from earlier this week here.

If you have any questions, @historecipes, @historybeagle, @HistoryElaine and @tallulahmaait will be out and about on Twitter today–or drop us a note on Facebook or below this post.

We can’t wait to hear from you in the Virtual Conversation!

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.

What is a Recipe?: A Recipes Project Virtual Conversation

We are excited to announce an upcoming event to celebrate The Recipe Project‘s fifth year. From 2 June to 5 July 2017, we will be hosting a Virtual Conversation on ‘What is a Recipe?’ Details are below. Please share our call for participation widely!


The Recipes Project is a DH/HistSTM  (Digital Humanities/History of Science, Technology, and Medicine) blog devoted to the study of recipes from all time periods and places. Our readership and contributors highlight the growing scholarly and popular interest in recipes. Over the five years that the RP has been running, our authors have continued to revisit one key question: what exactly is a recipe?  How do we know one when we see one?  What is their structure? What functions do recipes serve? How are they shared and passed on? Are they a set of instructions, a way of life, or a story? Aspirational or frequently used? Prose, poem, or image? The list could go on!

A doctor on the telephone (which is linked up to a television screen) to a patient whom he can both observe and talk to from a distance; representing possible technological innovations. (D.L. Ghilchip, 1932.) Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

And the question becomes even more complicated when we consider  the ways that social media creates new and innovative formats for conversations about recipes, across disciplines, academic/non-academic boundaries, and the world. At the RP, we’ve found that blogging is a wonderful way for recipes scholars to share their work and interests, but we recognize its limits as static text.

Introducing… the Virtual Conversation

We would like to invite you – whatever your background – to join us in our first Recipes Project Virtual Conversation, which will take place across a series of online events over the course of one month (2 June to 5 July).

Modern Medicine Pamphlets, Recipes (1930s). Credit: Wellcome Library.

The month-long event will be framed by two more traditional panels of speakers. The first, “Repast and Present: Food History Inside and Outside the Academy,” will be convened at the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians in June. The second will be held in the UK in July, and will feature all of the RP’s editors.  We’ll record these two panels and post them online for discussion.

In between these panels, we’ll host a series of virtual events during which we flood social media with images, texts, and conversations about ‘What is a Recipe?’

Are you a visual person who loves Pinterest or Instagram? Or do you prefer the brevity and playfulness of Twitter? Do you use recipes in historical re-enactment, or try to reconstruct historical recipes in the lab? Are you a knitter who uses old patterns? Whether you’re a recipes scholar, or a recipes enthusiast, there is a place for you in our conference.

During the Virtual Conversation, we will be collecting and archiving presentations for a post-event exhibition site.

Types of Presentations

Designs for mince pies from Hannah Bisaker’s recipe book
1692. Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

We are open to any form of online presentation on the topic of ‘What is a Recipe?’ You might use Twitter for poems, stories, or essays… Or Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat for photo-essays… Or YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook Live for videos… Or a blog forum… Or you might have another brilliant idea, which we’d love to hear!

Participation is open to ALL, whether you decide to present or to simply join the discussion.

How to Participate

Please register your interest in participating by contacting Recipes Project editors Lisa Smith and Laurence Totelin (historicalrecipes@gmail.com) by 30 April 2017.

In your email, please indicate your activity, medium, and (if any) preferred dates between 2 June and 5 July. In the interests of open participation, we are not vetting abstracts.

But in your application, please be detailed, because this will help us as we organise online activities, find participants, and ensure that we have permission to reproduce work on our exhibition site. Some virtual technical support may also be possible, depending on your needs.

We have reserved two hashtags for the conference: #recipesconf and #recipesproject. Please use these for all presentations and discussions, so participants can be sure to find each other.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Sites of Inspiration

An apothecary making up a prescription using scales, his wife holds a recipe for him and two assistants are working with the bellows and pestle and mortar. Line engraving by F. Baretta after P. Mainoto. Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

If you’re looking for digital inspiration…

Funding for this conference has been provided by the University of Essex.