Cynthia D. Bertelsen's Gherkins & Tomatoes

Recipes for Thought


I just received a most intriguing book – Wendy Wall’s Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen (2016) – and thought that some of you might find it to be of interest.

This, from the conclusion, sums up the author’s theory of what a recipe book meant, and likely still means:

“The recipe world that I have presented emerges out of a particular time and place: early modern England. In identifying the vectors of taste, pleasure, knowledge, literacy, and memory as they saturated the early modern kitchen, I have tried to demonstrate how inadequate it is for scholars to regard recipes solely as  documenting the domestic world of the past (although recipes certainly do have significant and recognizable documentary functions). as densely encoded textual and material forms, recipes also acted as relay points through which people learned, meditated, argued, networked, remembered, showed off, thought through problems, imagined, fantasized, played, and emoted.” (p. 251)