A black and white photo of a group of nineteenth-century schoolgirls cooking in a classroom while students look on from desks.

Autumn 2022


to School

A thematic digital issue of The Recipes Project.

Dear RP Community,

It is our great pleasure to welcome you back—or welcome you for the very first time—to the new and improved The Recipes Project. We are thrilled to be back in action after our summer break, and as we return, we would like to share some exciting news about our recent updates and the future direction of the RP.

You may have already noticed our new look. Our design team has been hard at work creating a more focused and contemporary interface that keeps our visual style fresh and puts our many features at your fingertips with no endless scrolling. Not to worry, you can still find the innovative, original research essays by our contributors that have been the bread and butter of the RP for so long. Alongside these, you will also notice several new categories of featured content, including Teaching Resources, a Primary Source Spotlight, Publication Highlights, and more—as well as an all-new version of our classic Around the Table segment, now reimagined as a podcast.

But our new vision for the RP is more than skin deep. In the coming months, we will be introducing our new quarterly publication cycle, which we believe will offer a more deliberate, connected approach to the big questions that make the RP tick. Each quarter, we will take the time to explore a wide-ranging yet cohesive topic from multiple perspectives, through a thematic series of original essays integrated with the new features you see above. You can still find brand new content each week, and we hope you find that taking a little extra time to ruminate on a shared theme with each piece you read will help the RP to come alive in a whole new way. We begin this new approach right now with a reimagined take on our annual Back-to-School ‘issue,’ as we highlight the latest work on teaching with, through, and about recipes.

You will also notice a host of new contributors in the coming months as we welcome in a diversity of voices and areas of study that expand upon the RP’s vision of recipes and their role in myriad scholarship. This includes collaborations with an exciting slate of guest editors, who we will introduce to you in the coming weeks and months. You will also see some familiar faces, as our dedicated veteran contributors share new work on our integrated quarterly themes. We hope you will consider contributing too—it would be our great pleasure to add your voice to our ongoing conversation.

Welcome to the new RP. Stay tuned for much more to come!

–The Editorial Team


Teaching Through Virtual Cooking Demonstrations

By Sarah Peters Kernan

As we continue to negotiate the use of virtual, hybrid, and in-person teaching methods, I offer a reflection on my recent experiences teaching through virtual cooking demonstrations and workshops. I began leading live historical cooking workshops at the Newberry Library via Zoom in the summer of 2020 when the pandemic forced my planned in-person demonstration to a virtual one. I have regularly offered workshops and cook-a-longs since then, teaching continuing education students interested in food and history. Cooking is an outstanding way to draw people into new ideas, topics, and areas of study; this is what makes the preparation of food a useful tool to teach and to research. 

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Shopping for Recipes in Early Modern London… Virtually

By Melissa Reynolds

Within just a few decades after William Caxton brought the printing press to England in 1476, Londoners had their choice of printed collections of medical recipes, herbal lore, instructions for distillation, and surgical instruction. Most of these editions were printed versions of texts that had been popular in Middle English manuscript collections, and printers did their best to choose from among these handwritten collections to produce printed editions that were better organized or more comprehensive.

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‘I Have Known’: Copying Personal Accounts in Early Modern Receipt Books

By Margaret Maurer

Reading British Library Sloane MS 559, a seventeenth-century receipt book, I came upon a recipe with the following efficacy statement: “I have knowne a woman heale many blind people with this medicine following” (MS 559 6v). The sentence was striking, not only because it places powerful healing with Biblical resonance in the hands of an unnamed woman, but because I had already seen it in another early modern receipt book…

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The Many Shades of Naples Yellow: Experimental Re-Working and the Influence of Fluxes on Pigment Color

By Umberto Veronesi, Mario Bandiera, Marcia Villarigues, Andreia Ruivo, Marta Manso,  Susana Coentro

The ChromAz project tells the story of sixteenth- to eighteenth-century Portuguese azulejos from the perspective of colour technology. Tiles are a crucial piece of Portuguese national heritage, and artists had a broad palette of colours at their disposal. We started with one of the most complex to achieve: a pigment known as Naples yellow (lead antimonate), a product of human craft with a long history.

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Beating Dough for Sponge Biscuits: a Gendered Skill?

By Marta Manzanares Mileo

In 1611’s Arte de cozina, pastelería, bizcochería y conservería (The Art of Cooking, Pastry Making, Bakery and Preserving), Francisco Martínez Montiño, Philip III’s and Philip IV’s personal cook, provides a series of recipes for bizcochos or long sponge biscuits made of flour, sugar, and eggs, which were one of the favourites desserts in early modernSpain. In one of these recipes, Montiño instructs the reader how to whip the biscuit dough, warning “that you must not whip any biscuits with two hands, as the nuns do, but with one hand as when you beat eggs to make egg omelette.”

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Around the Table


By Sarah Peters Kernan

Nearly four years ago, the Recipes Project introduced Around the Table, a monthly series intended to highlight the blog’s community of scholars, writers, and readers. I proposed the series in order to further promote a sense of community among Recipes Project readers; while I had long turned to the blog as a source of new ideas and information and as a resource for identifying scholars with related interests, I hoped to formalize this role for others.

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Primary source Highlight

A ‘recipe’ for chocolate on a 19th-century cup

By Frederick Fossey-Warren

This porcelain hot chocolate cup from the early 19th century seems decidedly Ottoman. Gilded with gold and over-glazed with an intricate red pattern, the cup is designed to follow the “Egyptian style” that proved immensely popular with colonial Ottoman officials at the turn of the century. In fact the cup is so extravagant that it’s possible it was never actually intended for use, but purchased as a display piece, a succinct symbol of both status and wealth, by a member of the Ottoman elite.

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Tales from the Archives

  • An Experiment in Teaching Recipe Transcription

    This term, my third-year class on “Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe” was involved in my research: testing the Textual Communities crowd-sourcing transcription platform.*  The class has been busy collaboratively transcribing the seventeenth-century recipe book of Johanna St John and it’s been an adventure for us all. The students had little to no experience in…

  • Early Modern Breast Surgeries and Recipes

    I’ve been a teaching assistant twice for a two-semester survey of the history of western medicine offered at the Johns Hopkins University. The full sequence takes undergraduates from Hippocrates to Obamacare, with the second semester covering the Enlightenment to the present. One of the pleasures of teaching a discussion section during the second semester is…

  • History Carnival 117 — A Twelfth Night Edition

    Twelfth Night, when the world turns topsy-turvy until midnight and the wassail is drunk to ensure a good apple harvest… A fitting day for the first History Carnival of 2013! This month, The Recipes Project has the privilege of rounding up the past month’s history blogging. As you might expect in a Twelfth Night edition, there…

  • The Strasbourg Tradition of Artists’ Recipe Books (1400-1570) Part II: Between written and oral transmission

    By Sylvie Neven The literature of artistic and technological recipes frequently serves as a source for historical study in art technology. However, to date, the nature and the original function of artists’ recipe books have not been clearly determined. The relevance and the reliability of this form of writing continue to be issues debated by scholars,…

  • Food History Panel Recordings from the Cookbook Conference

    By Lisa Smith In February, I attended the Roger Smith Cookbook Conference in New York. It was a fun conference, with a mix of academics and non-academics. A particular highlight, though, was realising that cookbook authors often bring samples of their food to panels! A delight in the case of cookies, though I’m sure the…

  • A Recipe for Trouble, or Criminal Chemistry

    By Lisa Smith It’s the tenth anniversary of The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913, a wonderful online resource that I frequently use for teaching and research. As one might expect, there is lots of medical history to be found in the court records. The expertise of physicians, surgeons, midwives and apothecaries was increasingly drawn…

further reading

Besides these new posts and “Tales from the Archives,” you’ll find more content related to pedagogy and recipes in the Teaching Recipes series, edited by Amanda Herbert from 2014 to 2018.

Food, Magic, Art, Science, and Medicine

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