The Culture of Food in England 1200 -1500

And along comes another new book about the history of English food! My cup runneth over! This one – The Culture of Food in England 1200 – 1500, by C. M. Woolgar – looks promising, for he begins Chapter One by referencing a word game from late medieval England: A carve of pantlers (those ‘who looked after…

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…

A Baker’s Dozen of British Cookbooks for the Christmas Season – Book #13

Throughout history, cooking shows up again and again as primarily women’s work. As a reviewer of Richard Wrangham’s thought-provoking Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (2009) summarizes, “Here, too, Wrangham apologetically explains, is probably where the global subjugation of women began. Women, he observes, do most of the cooking in most societies (he describes…

A Baker’s Dozen of British Cookbooks for the Christmas Season – Book #9

One of the most interesting things about the two National Trust cookbooks on this extended “Elves’ Shelves” list is the lack of major curry dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala or Balti dishes. In the British countryside, the old ways do appear to remain front and center, as opposed to the more urban areas where curry houses…

A Baker’s Dozen of British Cookbooks for the Christmas Season – Book #8

There is, as you may have noticed, a huge gap time-wise between the first seven books on this list and the last six. That’s because there’s a time period where you see the beginning of the cult of the modern celebrity chef/cook, with a tremendous focus on innovations and experimentation in recipes and, well, celebrity. Television. Italian food….

A Baker’s Dozen of British Cookbooks for the Christmas Season – Book #6

With Katie Stewart’s book, you begin to see a swing toward the time-saving, home-economist tone so prominent in much food writing that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century, aimed at housewives. I’ll be honest here, and you can probably tell before you even read this: Ms. Stewart’s book doesn’t really propel me into…