A Recipe CFP: Urban Recipes, edited by Jaspar Joseph-Lester and Andrea Pavoni

By Andrea Pavoni

Courtesy of http://www.losquaderno.professionaldreamers.net/?page_id=2
Courtesy of http://www.losquaderno.professionaldreamers.net/?page_id=2


Recipe, in Latin, meant imperative formula of medical prescriptions: take. This normative origin remained when the recipe migrated into the realm of food, as a set of how-to instructions meant to adapt the contingency of cooking to the standard of a given knowledge, generally overlooking the historical conditions and socio-material practices that constituted the recipe in the first place.

When joined by the adjective ‘urban’, either in merely rhetorical discourses (as in ‘recipes for a better society’, economy, and the likes), or in specific projects at the intersection between grassroots initiatives and artistic practice, the recipe often maintains this normative, prescriptive and instrumental connotation. Like other similar notions (e.g. urban acupuncture, urban mending, etc), the term ‘urban recipe’ is normally employed metaphorically, to refer to small-scale pragmatic – and at times, one may polemically add, technocratic – solutions seemingly able to bypass more complex (political) approaches.

In this issue of lo Squaderno we invite you to unpack the key relation of recipes with the embodied and sensorial practice of producing, making, and tasting of food. This is all the more topical as today ‘food’ has arguably become a key driver of urban planning, regeneration and gentrification, as the rise and rise of an ‘urban creative-food economy’ and the implementation of ‘food policy councils’ around the world (e.g. Toronto, Vancouver, Bristol, Amsterdam etc.) testifies.

From specialty coffee premises to organic food shops, from beer districts to farmer markets, from TripAdvisor to UberEats, from food waste recycling to urban gardening, the food-city relation is being reshaped, reterritorialised and prolonged in multiple novel ways. In short, there is (increasingly) a profound socio-spatial relation between food and the city that requires some careful unpacking: to do so, recipes may be employed as a sensorial way to explore, know and engage with the perceptible and imperceptible constitution of the city.

We therefore propose to rethink (urban) recipes as tools to increase sensory perception and knowledge of the structures, dynamics and everyday experiences of the urban. In other words, the challenge this issue seeks to address is that of reconfiguring the recipe itself, from a normative instrument into a sort of speculative map able to chart and disclose interesting (socio-cultural, political, etc.) dimensions of the relation between food and the city in a particular urban context.

We encourage interdisciplinary contributions that narrate, analyse, unpack, or indeed create urban recipes (real or invented, realistic or fantastic, utopian or dystopian, joyful or macabre, artistic or scientific) through which describe, explore or dissect tiny or wide, local or global, issues about the phenomenological and ontological, bodily and structural, spatial and temporal, sensorial and conceptual relation between food and the city.



| Deadline for submissions | 30 March 2020

| Deadline for abstract submissions | 30 January 2020

| Article Size | 2,000 words

| Information about the Journal | http://www.losquaderno.professionaldreamers.net/?page_id=2

| Information about the Editorial Process + Author’s Submission Checklist | http://www.losquaderno.professionaldreamers.net/?page_id=1082


Variable Matters (Basel, 20-22 September 2019), organized by Barbara Orland and Stefanie Gänger

By Stefanie Gänger

Hosted at Basel’s beautiful Pharmacy Museum, the conference “Variable Matters” was designed to bring together historians with an interest in the movement of medicinals and knowledge about them between and across societies in the world of the ‘long’ eighteenth century. Participants talked about very different kinds of substances – vanilla, calomel, bezoars – and studied them in rather diverse contexts – anything from the Swiss Alps to the Bolivian Andes – but everyone was reflecting, in one way or another, on the subjects of medicine trade, therapeutic exchange, and epistemic brokerage.

Several speakers engaged with one or another aspect of the communication of medical knowledge about foreign or unfamiliar ‘simples’ to other cultural imaginaries, medical localities, and therapeutic traditions. Quite a few papers dealt with the acquisition, transfer and codification of remedies associated with the ‘exotic’. Emma Spary, in a public keynote lecture, discussed the introduction of vanilla to France. Vanilla, originally from the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Spain, was becoming familiar in France from the late 1600s, and the talk focused on the various issues – of translation, transport, and taste – involved in moving the plant and knowledge about it across vast expanses of space. In another paper, we heard about the growing consumption of tea in the seventeenth-and eighteenth-century Low Countries from Marieke Hendriksen, who was just starting a new project on the role of subjective experience and taste in the acquisition and communication of knowledge about ‘new’, exotic materia medica. Hjalmar Fors’ talk, in turn, discussed the constraints that Europeans operated under in their encounter with ‘exotic’ plants more broadly – what they deemed worth knowing, or valuable about them, on account of those constraints – and on the botanical and (al-)chemical practices that would reduce them to a semblance of – European – order.

The delegates of the conference

Other papers discussed the acquisition, transfer and codification of remedies associated with the ancient, or artisanal. Francesco Luzzini spoke of the Italian physician and naturalist Antonio Vallisneri’s interest in ‘popular’ therapeutics, including his inquiries into the mineral remedies in use among miners, and artisans. Laurence Totelin, in turn, talked about the reception and critique of ancient antidotes like mithridatium and theriac in the eighteenth century, through treatises like William Heberden’s 1745 Antitheriaca. Heberden also figured in other talks, especially in Chris Duffin’s, which explored the contents of eighteenth-century medical chests – including Heberden’s teaching cabinet – that encompassed anything from Mesoamerican cochineal to album graecum.

Other papers engaged with the relationship between homegrown, or ‘indigenous’, medicines and novel, unfamiliar substances. Silvia Flubacher, in a paper co-authored with Simona Boscani, talked about the eighteenth-century market in ‘German bezoars’ extracted from Swiss chamois, or goats, a medical commodity that emerged in reaction to overprized exotic bezoars, as part of a discursive revaluation of the ‘local’. Other speakers engaged with ‘their’ substances’ ontological instability, the many acts of adaptation, customizing and calibration a medical substance’s journeys might entail. Irina Podgorny’s talk in particular, focusing on the example of eagle stones – hollow geode stones worn as amulets with a longstanding reputation for protecting pregnant women, or comforting women grieving the loss of a child – discussed not only shifts in the stones’ nomenclature and therapeutic indications as they travelled from Europe to Spanish America; it also studied how the very name – ‘eagle stone’ – was transferred to various objects that were concomitantly attributed analogous properties: to American fossils, and pietists collections of prayers alike.

Other speakers focused on the formats used to convey medical knowledge. Clare Griffin presented a paper on the gradual incorporation of American herbal medicines into Russian recipes over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while Matthew J. Eddy delivered a paper on a series of medical consultation letters between the prominent Edinburgh physician William Cullen and a Quaker woman, and the ensuing give-and-take of their negotiations over the proper medicines. Sabrina Minuzzi’s paper, in turn, studied the correspondence and publications – cheap pamphlets, in the majority – of Johannes Behm (c. 1640–1731), or Giovanni Beni, a physician, plant collector and broker who moved knowledge about medicinals and therapeutic practices around, especially between northern and southern Europe, but also with the East Indies, owing to his contacts with merchants, plant traders and botanists alike.

The Basel Pharmacy Museum.

In-between papers, we had the privilege of a guided tour of the Pharmacy Museum by the organizer, Barbara Orland, and the museum’s acting director, Philippe Wanner, who did their very best guiding a bunch of excited specialists through the collection (what with everyone chatting excitedly, and constantly getting side-tracked, by charred monkey skulls, preserved seahorses, or actual eagle stones!).

Around the Table: Introductions

Editor’s Note: In this post, we’re delighted to welcome one of our new editors, Sarah Peters Kernan. Sarah completed her Ph.D. in History at the Ohio State University, with a dissertation entitled, “For all them that delight in Cookery”: The Production and Use of Cookery Books in England, 1300–1600, and she’s now working as an independent scholar. Here, Sarah describes some of the new ideas and activities she’ll be bringing to the RP. –AH

A doctor taking the pulse of a woman patient, seated at a table. Watercolour by Zhou Pei Qun, ca. 1890, courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.
A doctor taking the pulse of a woman patient, seated at a table. Watercolour by Zhou Pei Qun, ca. 1890, courtesy of the Wellcome Collection.

By Sarah Peters Kernan

As the Recipes Project begins a new year, we also begin a new series focused on our blog community. I recently joined the Recipes Project’s editorial team, and during my initial conversations with the other editors, I mentioned the many ways in which this blog has been important in my scholarly development. Throughout the final years of my graduate training and now, in my early career as an independent scholar, the Recipes Project has not only provided an outlet for writing and developing ideas, but a venue for connecting with other researchers and authors. I began meeting other contributors and readers at many conferences and seminars I have attended. While organizing conference sessions, I contacted potential presenters after perusing their posts on related topics. I have learned about new resources and methods from the diverse group of contributors. And, most importantly, the personal connections that I have made through the site have led to exciting conversations, ideas, projects, and even friendships. I value these ideas and relations all the more, because I have worked away from an academic home for a few years. I completed my dissertation hundreds of miles away from my university and am now working as an independent scholar. So despite being a virtual and international community, the Recipes Project has become a place to which I return often, frequently reading and occasionally contributing. My experiences appealed to the editors, and we decided to try strengthening this sense of community among our readership. Many of you have had similar connections because of the blog; it is now my job to facilitate even more of this.

Each month, I will highlight a different part of the Recipes Project community in the new series, Around the Table. The idea of any community joining together around a table is a powerful one; when we work together sorting through the issues surrounding historic recipes research, we can unearth so much more, as well as enjoy time with our colleagues. No matter what kind of table we encounter in our work and research—be it kitchen, craft, lab, or surgical—we can all learn from others around us. The editors know that our readers have many interests, careers, and uses for the blog. Hopefully this series serves as a catalyst for meeting other readers and contributors in person, collaborating on future projects, and confidently contacting others when you have questions about research, teaching, publishing, recipe re-creation, and more. Occasionally, I will revive the type of content found in past series, like First Monday Library Chats. In other posts, I will share conversations with curators, publishers, podcasters, and other scholars. You will find out what is going on in our fields at conferences and sharing in congratulations of our contributors with new jobs and completed degrees. As we all begin to know each other a bit more, it is my hope that you, too, will turn to the Recipes Project when you need to find a person, project, or idea.

In order to do all of this, I need your help! I encourage you to reach out to the Recipes Project through social media. We are active on Twitter and Facebook; let us all know when you have completed a degree, secured a new job, or won a major fellowship or award. Tell us about new job posts related to recipes, calls for papers, exhibition announcements, historical meal re-creations, and more. Please also share the conferences you are planning to attend. Just remember to use #historecipes so we can easily track your announcements; if you have shared your news or conferences, I may even contact you when working on certain posts in this series focused on topics like conference roundups and contributor accomplishments. You may, of course, also email the Recipes Project if you would prefer not to use social media. From time to time, the Recipes Project will use social media to organize informal cocktail hours and meetups at conferences, when we know many contributors and readers will be there. These informal gatherings may be infrequent for now, but it is our hope that these meetings will be a source of community and conviviality for those who can join us.

I look forward to hearing from you all and I am excited to share more about our wonderful Recipes Project community next month Around the Table!

Conference report: “The Words of Medicine”

By Isabella Bonati

From Wednesday 19th to Saturday 22nd September the international Conference “The Words of Medicine: Technical Terminology in Material and Textual Evidence from the Graeco-Roman World” was held at the North-West University of Potchefstroom (South Africa). Sixteen scholars from around the world exchanged knowledge, research and experience, and worked together on the exciting field of ancient medicine and its technical vocabulary. Papers presented at the conference approached the topic from different perspectives and in different typologies of texts and sources – Greek medical authors, as well as non-medical texts, papyri of medical content, Latin prose and poems. While on this journey into the words of medicine, they have explored the degrees of technicality used to express medical concepts and issues, the socio-linguistic aspects of medical vocabulary, the (re)use of medical terms and images in Greek and Latin authors up to Late Antiquity, that is, the crossing of medical terminology into other literary genres, but they have also dealt with the material side of ancient medicine and its practice. The deep interdisciplinary approach which has inspired the conference has proved to be fruitful to enhance our knowledge of the Graeco-Roman medicine and its technical vocabulary through the analysis of its sources, both textual and material. One of the aims of such an approach was to promote connections between disciplines also in a modern institutional context, given the relevance of the reconstruction of medical profession and health care of the ancient world for the Medical Humanities and, in general, Health Sciences. The main aim was to contribute to “revitalise” the past and to make it more accessible by rediscovering the medical terminology in its real and concrete dimension and allowing its issues to come alive, in a way that can improve our understanding both of the past and the present.

Pompeii, Wall Painting, House of Siricus, I century AD

On Wednesday evening, the Conference was opened by a cocktail reception and the Keynote address delivered by Stephen Harrison from the University of Oxford, who investigated the medical imagery in Horace’s poetry. The first panel, on Thursday 20th, was inaugurated by the Keynote address given by Alessia Guardasole from Paris-Sorbonne, who focused on a diachronic and contextual study of the technical vocabulary employed by Galen in his pharmacological treatises.  As a second speaker of that session, Nathalie Rousseau from the same University scrutinised other remarkable aspects of the technical words of medicine according to Galen.

The second and the third panels provided an opportunity to explore the medical terminology and the medical practice in the Greek papyri from Egypt. Anna Monte from the Humboldt University of Berlin analysed the terminology of private letters on papyrus dealing with medical topics. Isabella Bonati from the North-West University of Potchefstroom, organizer of the conference, surveyed the medical words and the context of medicine in the ostraca from the Roman praesidium of Mons Claudianus, in the Eastern desert of Egypt. Francesca Bertonazzi from the University of Parma approached the technical vocabulary of surgery in the papyri focusing on some terms for “threads”. Dimitris Roumpekas from the University of Athens dealt with metaphors and medical terminology in the light of the papyri of Graeco-Roman and Byzantine Egypt.

PSI XX Congr. 5: papyrus preserving a recipe for an ophthalmic ointment, III century AD

During the fourth panel, entitled ‘Illness and healing in Greek non-medical texts’, Caterina Manco from the University Paul-Valéry of Montpellier approached the medical terminology of Thucydides, and Maria Konstantinidou from the Democritus University of Thrace discussed the topic of disease and healing in early hagiographical texts. The day was concluded by a panel on ‘Technical terminology of specialized medical fields’. Jane Draycott from the University of Glasgow examined the vocabulary utilised in ancient Greece and Rome to refer to assistive technology, specifically mobility aids, in ancient textual evidence, and Tara Mulder from the Vassar College of New York approached the terms for uterus in ancient Greek medical and philosophical texts, early Christian writings, magical amulets, and Greek magical papyri.

The sixth panel on Friday 21st discussed the medical words and their technicality in Latin prose. Cristoph Weilbach from the University of Leipzig analysed the presence of medical themes and the manipulative command of medical language in the epistles of Seneca the Younger, and Michiel Meeusen from the King’s College of London explored Gellius’ acquaintance with technical scientific knowledge and his use of medical terminology in some passages of the Attic Nights.

The seventh session moved to the reuse of medical terms and images in Latin poems. Katharina Pohl from the University of Wuppertal dealt with Cassandra’s medicine-image in Dracontius’ De raptu Helenae, and Ezequiel Ferriol from the University of Buenos Aires with the trans-textual and trans-generic transformations in Quintus Serenus Sammonicus’ Liber medicinalis.

The following day, the conference was brought to a close with the last session concerning diseases and disorders between literature and medicine. Matthew Chaldekas from the University of California-Riverside focused on melancholy as a technical term and literary model in Sophocles’ Trachiniae. Finally, a rich and stimulating discussion concluded this journey into the words of medicine that will result in the publication of a peer-reviewed volume.