Food History Message Board

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Food History Message Board

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1jimodo First Message
Jul 25, 2006, 8:21pm

What? No cookbooks in the most commonly shared books? What's up?

Jul 25, 2006, 8:23pm

What? No cookbooks in the most commonly shared books? What's up?

Jul 25, 2006, 8:55pm

Very strange, eh?

I doubt most of my cookbooks are of interest to the group - but the subject's of enormous interest to me.

4donsmith First Message
Jul 25, 2006, 10:49pm

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Jul 25, 2006, 10:54pm

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6 First Message
Jul 25, 2006, 11:18pm

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Jul 25, 2006, 11:55pm

No, 'food writing' is appealing, but I haven't read much yet.

Question, though (which I'll also post in 'Tea!'): does anyone have or know of an especially good book on the early history of tea or coffee, particularly their introduction to Europe? Or even just a great book about the growth of coffee house culture in the 18th century? (If I'm not ranging too far off the mark.) Always curious.

I do like a couple of my American regional cookbooks: I Hear America Cooking or Baking Across America may not be scholarly, but the former, especially, makes wonderful reading.

8ForrestFamily First Message
Jul 26, 2006, 12:23am

The Devil's Cup which is in my library is about the history of Coffee - a good general introduction

Jul 26, 2006, 12:39am

Looks facinating, Megami; thank you.

Jul 26, 2006, 6:07pm

Of the books I've posted on LT so far, I've only got 22 tagged "cookbook", but many of the housekeeping and advice books I have include cookbook sections or recipes for special occasions.

Aside from just loving food, I'm also interested in what the food we eat and how we prepare it says about us and the way we live. The first time I can remember thinking about it was when I was 13 or 14 years old and I came across a quote from Housekeeping in Old Virginia: "I would say to housewives, be not daunted by one failure, nor by twenty. Resolve that you *will* have good bread, and never cease striving after this result till you have effected it. If persons without brains can accomplish this, why cannot you?" It struck me for the first time how important bread making - and food preparation in general - had been before you could just run down to the store, and how not being able to make good bread would have been a real source of frustration for these women. I'm still in awe of the sheer amount of time and effort that went into food preparation and planning, particularly before convenience foods began to be available in the mid 20th century.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. :)

Jul 26, 2006, 9:13pm

I have lots of cookbooks, many of which should be of interest to this group--I just haven't got them catalogued yet. I'll try to make that a priority!

Jul 26, 2006, 11:39pm

PDeedbs - don't apologize. It was pertinent and interesting. Food preparation and housekeeping in the past fascinates me (- as does good bread)! It was a singularly essential, difficult kind of work - which to me seems much more important a responsibility in the past than it is now. And yes - unbelievably time-consuming and tiring. I look forward to more discussion on the topic...

Jul 27, 2006, 4:46pm

I've got 171 books tagged so far as "cooking and food" -- mostly cookbooks, but also food writing. I've still some cookbooks left to add.

Jul 27, 2006, 6:23pm

Thanks, Eurydice. I guess I'm just used to people's eyes glazing over whenever I start going on about The History of the Tomato, or How Flour Sacks Used to be made into Dresses. ;-)

Jul 27, 2006, 6:48pm

Just as a pertinant review, finished Refined Tastes: Sugar, Confectionery, and Consumers in Nineteenth-Century America the other day. It is a great overview of the history of sugar in America, including the rise of ice creams, chocolate, and candies for children. I love the descriptions of the bonbon boxes that were more expensive than the candies! (You can buy an antique on on ebay)

Jul 27, 2006, 6:53pm

islandisee, that looks very interesting. I'm adding it to my ever-growing wishlist. Thanks for recommending it.

Jul 28, 2006, 5:25am

Hi all; I haven't finished listing my cookbooks and housekeeping books but I do have some fairly old ones from my grandmother and mother, also some old French ones such as Le Livre de Cuisine de Mme de St-Ange.
To answer Eurydice's question about Tea: Mariage Frères in Paris have published a very attractive book about the history of tea, but itis no longer in my possession (I am a bookcrosser...)

18anns First Message
Jul 28, 2006, 12:25pm

You might be interested in Tastes of Paradise : a social history of spices stimulants and intoxicants isbn: 0394579844 by Wolfgang Schivelbusch. Tr. by David Jacobson, New York : Pantheon Books, 1992. Originally published in Germany as Das Paradies, der Geschmack und die Vernunft, 1980. Includes bibliography pp 229-236 . This is one of my favorites.

Jul 29, 2006, 3:46am

Anns, thank you, yes; that looks wonderful. As it covers so many interesting substances, it may come high on my list - as a sort of pleasurable multi-tasking. :)

Overthemoon - It will be wonderful to see your collection. I miss my books badly when they're loaned, even, but appreciate those who can part with them. I'll add the book to my growing list (from this and the Tea! group) of books about tea and coffee.

PDeedbs: I expect I could cause some glazing, myself! But personally, I love it, and that's what we're here for!

Jul 30, 2006, 7:00pm

I've just catalogued my Culinaria books. These are from the German publisher Könemann, but readily available in the U.S. in English. They're oversized books full of gorgeous color photography and include lots of cultural and historical notes about the foods in various regions of the world. The recipes are authentic, and I suspect many have changed little over the past centuries.

Jul 31, 2006, 4:45am

Margad, I LOVE my (Culinaria) books! For me they are more than just recipes, they are history and culture and encouragement to eat well!

Aug 3, 2006, 5:54am

hey you guys. still haven't listed most of my books; will try to do this soon.

islandisee, i'll check out Refined Tastes: Sugar, Confectionery, and Consumers in Nineteenth-Century America; it should be a perfect to read after i finish salt: a world history by mark kurlansky. thanks for the recomm.

Aug 14, 2006, 3:02pm


Salt: a world history was great too! I keep meaning to pick up his earlier book on cod: Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. Great examples of the single-item history that seems to be so popular these days. Pure Ketchup: a History of America's National Condiment by Andrew F. Smith is another one to browse through.

Aug 15, 2006, 6:27pm

Megami, do you ever use any of the recipes in the Culinaria books? I love the paella recipes in Culinaria, Spain, though I'm constitutionally incapable of ever following a recipe exactly.

Aug 19, 2006, 2:54am

I do use some of them, though I have to write them out first, as dragging a Culinaria book into the kitchen is not going to happen in my house.

Aug 21, 2006, 2:10pm

Thank you, hazelk! :)

Edited: Aug 22, 2006, 3:45pm

I mentioned Mark Kurlansky's books earlier: Cod: a Biography of the Fish that changed the world and Salt: a world history. What I just found out is that he has done juvenile, picture-book style editions of both that look as fun to browse through as the originals. So if you are looking to inspire the children in your life to become addicted to food history, this might do it :-) They are called The Story of Salt and The Cod's Tale.

Aug 23, 2006, 11:32pm

hey islandisee--kurlansky has kids books, too?! now that's cute. thanks a lot for the info! :)

Aug 28, 2006, 12:18pm

anikins, I may have buy these for -myself- and pretend I have children to give them too :-)

Oct 19, 2006, 11:58am

I have often borrowed a few cook books of the past from the library. The most interesting were from the Tudor times. How they prepared and preserved the food back then is quite frightening. But some of the desserts sound delicious. Without all of the " modern " equipment we have today, they still made some very interesting and tasty-sounding dishes.

Edited: Nov 17, 2006, 9:32am

Scholar's Bookshelf has a great section of books on Culinary History. It's under the History tab. My wishlist has just grown incredibly...

Nov 24, 2006, 2:48pm

Please define for me, the difference between "food writing" and a "cookbook". Would it be for instance the difference between Clementine in the Kitchen and Joy of Cooking?

Nov 24, 2006, 7:05pm

Yes, MrsLee!

Nov 25, 2006, 2:31am

Alright then, my favorite cookbooks are the ones which read as a book. Of course, some cookbooks read like a book just because of the introduction to each recipe, like The Prudhomme Family Cookbook. This tells so much about life in the early part of the twentieth century in the Cajun country. The only cookbook I haven't read in my collection is the Joy of Cooking, I use it as a reference.

Nov 25, 2006, 10:38am

What about The splendid table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper? If you have not read it, I strongly recommend it. It combines recipes and history.

Nov 25, 2006, 4:35pm

I will keep my eyes open for it, just purchased a cookbook written by Dorothy Sayers when she was in advertising. She wrote it for the Coleman Mustard Company during their "Mustard Club" campaign. I bought it at their website. Can't wait 'til it arrives!

Dec 11, 2006, 12:32am


speaking of kurlansky... i recently got myself a softcover edition of his Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing Around the World. since these are snippets of other people's work, the collection is uneven. but there are treasures inside like pieces by Escoffier, MFK Fisher, Jeremy Wechsberg, Orwell, Hemingway, among others.

Mar 13, 2007, 11:47am

Just roaming through my library and here are some I enjoy:

American Food : The Gastronomic Story by Evan Jones

America Eats: Forms of Edible Folk Art by William Woys Weaver

The Seasonal Hearth: The Woman at Home in Early America
by Adelaide Hechtlinger

The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and the New World
by Peter G Rose

And how about The Big Oyster, Kurlansky's latest food book?

I have lots of this type book and find them so enjoyable.

But I also have lots of the memoir type which which give insight into more individual history and I enjoy them as well.

Apr 18, 2007, 3:33pm

Forgot this one and just came upon in while browsing my library.

Mennonite Foods & Folkways From South Russia
by Norma Jost Voth

Apr 18, 2007, 4:15pm

I like the Voth book a lot, Buddy, and use it as a reference pretty often. How about A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove? I've enjoyed the first two chapters but haven't tried any of the recipes.

Edited: Apr 19, 2007, 6:20pm

LLP, Have browsed ATYOAHS in one of my local bookstores and have it on my wish (make that yearn) list. I have pretty much totally read the Voth book but have not, at least consciously, used it as a reference. Would also very much like to get Voth's Vol II which, as far as I can tell, is stories but not necessarily recipes. I tried to get it from ABE, but there are only paperbacks and mine is a hardcover, and I would like them to match. Silly of me, I know, but guess I'll just keep looking.

Apr 19, 2007, 3:19pm

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Apr 19, 2007, 11:14pm

I have both of the Voth books in hardback, if memory serves. The second one has some recipes -again, if I'm thinking straight - but more on the folkways.

Jan 22, 2009, 2:50am

Leaving USA for a moment: Has anyone information about recipes used in Europe during the 16th Century or thereabouts? I would love to see a thread about Renaissace European food in the new group:

Jan 22, 2009, 3:02am

What about this one, The Renaissance Cookbook? I don't have it, but am always deeply attracted to cookbooks of such periods.

Edited: Jan 22, 2009, 3:15am

Both of these looked like useful or interesting sources, online:

Jan 22, 2009, 7:53am

Thrin, I will take a look at a couple of books I have at home. It might be mostly Italian Renaissance cuisine, though.

Jan 22, 2009, 3:39pm

Thanks for those suggestions Eurydice, and 'mostly Italian Renaissance' sounds good to me aluvalibri... How about posting some ideas about these books/sites/etc. in the Renaissance Europe group?

Mar 18, 2010, 1:52am

Any recommendations for sources for Edwardian garden party-ish gatherings? We're looking either for menu suggestions or books that discuss such festivities, whether fiction or non.

Jun 9, 2010, 12:43pm

You might want to try The Raj at Table: A Culinary History of the British in India. Some of it overlaps with the Edwardian era, and shows how India influenced British food.

Jun 13, 2010, 5:30pm

>51 varielle: Thanks, varielle. The Edwardian tea went off quite well on 5/29 and included a curried chicken vol-au-vent as a nod to the Raj.