Further Reading

Research on Recipes in the Early Modern Atlantic World

Historical recipes have sometimes been seen as documents of folk culture, and given the ways in which Canada’s Maritime provinces seem to persist in the national imagination as the home of the folk—a homogeneous fiddling and fishing crew who live in colourful clapboard homes at the ocean’s edge—there may be a temptation to approach these recipes in that way, as well.  That would be a mistake. 

Ian McKay’s Quest of the Folk challenges our ability to view the Maritimes through the lens of folk culture on the grounds of the facts of the region’s history: it is a place which saw the collision of Indigenous, Acadian, German, Loyalist, Black Loyalist, Scottish, Irish, and English people:  the eighteenth-century did not “fit a model of Folk tranquillity and rootedness;” instead there were wars, expulsions, dispossession, political and religious upheaval, and a race riot (27). The idea of the folk, he contends, was constructed “as part of a broader antimodernist movement within the region and the province” between 1920 and 1950, particularly to sell Nova Scotia to American tourists (30). 

Contemporary research into historical recipes also tends to resist the perspective that recipes are products of folk culture.  Largely focused on the UK, but also including other parts of Europe and what is now called North America, recipe scholarship has exploded in the past decade to complement research on English, French, and North American food cultures and the history of medicine, particularly with respect to female medical practitioners.  This research has approached a range of questions around how recipes consistute authority, how manuscript recipe collections can function as a form of autobiography and, collected across generations, as a family archive. As markers of literacy, recipes are treated as an outcome of “kitchen literacy” to use Wendy Wall’s phrase, and as evidence in the history of reading.  They also show connections between recipe collectors and their broader understanding of the world, of their social connections and networks, and their engagement across knowledge hierarchies that include women, servants, artisans, professional medical practitioners, and theoretical knowledge sanctioned by scholarly societies, amongst other things. Recipes can also express political affiliations and function polemically by carving out spaces of cultural and class difference through the representation of domestic management and taste or the expense of ingredients.  Recipes can also imagine the body, pondering the place of food in creating health and the inculcation of health through medicines.


Further Reading

Albala, Ken. “Food for Healing: Convalescent Cookery in the Early Modern Era.” Studies in History & Philosophy of Biological & Biomedical Sciences, vol. 43, no. 2, 2012, pp. 323-28.

Allen, Katherine. “Recipe Collections and the Realities of Fashionable Diseases in Eighteenth-Century Elite Domestic Medicine.” Literature and Medicine, vol. 35, no. 2, 2017, pp. 334-54.

Archer, Jayne Elisabeth. “Women and Chymistry in Early Modern England: The Manuscript Receipt Book (c. 1616) of Sarah Wigges.” Gender and Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Culture, edited by Kathleen P. Long, Ashgate, 2010, pp. 191-216.

Bassnett, Madeline. “Restoring the Royal Household: Royalist Politics and the Commonwealth Recipe Book.” Early English Studies, vol. 2, 2009, pp. 1-32.

Bennett, Lyn. Rhetoric, Medicine, and the Woman Writer, 1600-1700. CUP, 2018.

Ben-Ur, Aviva. “Kabbalistic Pharmacopoeia: Well-Being in the Atlantic Jewish World.” Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 105, no. 2, 2015 Spring 2015, pp. 145-53.

Berly, Charlsie E. “Early American Cookbooks (1783-1861): Windows on Household Life and Developing Culture.” Lamar Journal of the Humanities, vol. 14, no. 1/2, Mar. 1988, pp. 5-18.

Bickham, Troy. “Eating the Empire: Intersections of Food, Cookery, and Imperialism in Eighteenth-Century Britain.” Past & Present, vol. 198, no. 1, Feb. 2008, pp. 71-109.

Blake, John B. “‘The Compleat Housewife.’” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 49, no. 1, 1975, pp. 30-42.

Cabré, Montserrat. “Women or Healers? Household Practices and the Categories of Health Care in Late Medieval Iberia.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 82, no. 1, 2008, pp. 18-51.

Cooke, Nathalie and Kathryn Anne Harvey, eds. The Johnson Family Treasury: A Collection of Household Recipes & Remedies, 1741-1848, Rock’s Mills P, 2015.

Cox, Helen. “‘A Most Precious and Excellent Balm’: The Theory and Practice of Medicine in the Papers of Lady Grace Mildmay 1552-1620.” Midland History, vol. 43, no. 1, May 2018, pp. 22-42.

de la Llave, Ricardo órdoba. “Making and Using Alum in Hispanic Craft Recipe Books from the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.” Icon: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology, vol. 21, Oct. 2015, pp. 51-65.

Dimeo, Michelle. “Authorship and Medical Networks: Reading Attributions in Early Modern Manuscript Recipe Book.” Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550-1800, edited by Michelle DiMeo and Sara Pennell, Manchester UP, 2013, pp. 25-46.

---. “‘Communicating Medical Recipes: Robert Boyle’s Genre and Rhetorical Strategies for Print.” The Palgrave Handbook to Early Modern Science and Literature, edited by Howard Marchitello and Evelyn Tribble, Palgrave, 2016, pp. 209-28.

---. “Reimagining Early Modern English Recipes.” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 80, no. 1, 2017, pp. 173-77.

--- and Rebecca Laroche. “On Elizabeth Isham’s ‘Oil of Swallows’: Animal Slaughter and Early Modern Women’s Medical Recipes.” Ecofeminist Approaches to Early Modernity, edited by Jennifer Munroe et al., Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 87-104.

--- and Sara Pennell (ed. and introd.). Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550-1800. Manchester UP, 2013.

Eamon, William L. “Science and Popular Culture in Sixteenth-Century Italy: The “Professors of Secrets’ and their Books.” Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 16, no. 4, 1985, pp. 471-85.

Estes, J. Worth. “The Medical Properties of Food in the Eighteenth Century.” Journal of the History of Medicine & Allied Sciences, vol. 51, no. 2, Apr. 1996, pp. 127-54.

Field, Catherine. “‘Many Hands Hands’: Writing the Self in Early Modern Women's Recipe Books.” Genre and Women's Life Writing in Early Modern England, edited by Michelle M. Dowd and Julie A. Eckerle, Ashgate, 2007, pp. 49-63.

Gold, Carol. Danish Cookbooks: Domesticity and National Identity, 1616-1901. U of Washington P; Museum Tusculanum, 2007.

Guerrero, Saúl. “The History of Silver Refining in New Spain, 16c to 18c: Back to the Basics.” History & Technology, vol. 32, no. 1, Mar. 2016, pp. 2-32.

Hanson, Marta, and Gianna Pomata. “Medicinal Formulas and Experiential Knowledge in the Seventeenth-Century Epistemic Exchange between China and Europe.” ISIS: Journal of the History of Science in Society, vol. 108, no. 1, Mar. 2017, pp. 1-25.

Harbury, Katharine E. Colonial Virginia's Cooking Dynasty. U of South Carolina P, 2004.

Heinrichs, Erik A. “The Live Chicken Treatment for Buboes: Trying a Plague Cure in Medieval and Early Modern Europe.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 91, no. 2, 2017, pp. 210-32.

Hunter, Lynette, and Sarah Hutton, eds. Women, Science and Medicine 1500-1700: Mothers and Sisters of the Royal Society, Sutton, 1997.

Impe, Jean-Luc. “Le Festin Joyeux de J. Lebas Ou Comment Lire La Saveur Des Plats En Écoutant Chanter Les Mets.” Ris, Masques et Tréteaux: Aspects Du Théâtre Du XVIIIe Siècle, edited by Marie-Laure Girou Swiderski et al., PU Laval, 2008, pp. 103-15.

Kavey, Allison. Books of Secrets: Natural Philosophy in England, 1550-1600,  U of Illinois P, 2007.

Knoppers, Laura Lunger. “Opening the Queen’s Closet: Henrietta Maria, Elizabeth Cromwell, and the Politics of Cookery.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 2, 2007, pp. 464-99.

Kowalchuk, Kristine. Preserving on Paper: Seventeenth-Century Englishwomen's Receipt Books, U of Toronto P, 2017.

Lacey, Laurie.  Micmac Medicines: Remedies and Recollections, Nimbus Pub, 1993.

Laroche, Rebecca. “Becoming Visible: Recipes in the Making.” Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 13, no. 1, 2018, pp. 133-43.

Lehmann, Gilly. “Reading Recipe Books and Culinary History: Opening a New Field.” Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550-1800, edited by Michelle DiMeo and Sara Pennell, Manchester UP, 2013, pp. 93-113.

LeJacq, Seth Stein. “The Bounds of Domestic Healing: Medical Recipes, Storytelling and Surgery in Early Modern England.” Social History of Medicine, vol. 26, 2013, pp. 451-68.  

Leong, Elaine. “Brewing Ale and Boiling Water in 1651.” The Structures of Practical Knowledge, edited by Matteo Valleriani, Springer, 2017, pp. 55-75.

---. “Collecting Knowledge for the Family: Recipes, Gender and Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern English Household.” Centaurus, vol. 55, no. 2, May 2013, pp. 81-103.

---. “‘Herbals She Peruseth’: Reading Medicine in Early Modern England.” Renaissance Studies, vol. 28, no. 4, Sept. 2014, pp. 556-78.

---. “Making Medicines In The Early Modern Household.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol. 82, no. 1, 2008, pp. 145-68. Project Muse.

---.  Recipes and Everyday Knowledge: Medicine, Science, and the Household in Early Modern England, U of Chicago P, 2018.

--- and Alisha M. Rankin, eds. Secrets and Knowledge in Medicine and Science, 1500-1800, Ashgate, 2011.

--- and Lisa Smith, eds. The Recipes Project: Food, Magic, Science and Medicine,  https://recipes.hypotheses.org/.

--- and Sara Pennell. “Recipe Collections and the Currency of Medical Knowledge in the Early Modern ‘Medical Marketplace.’” The Medical Marketplace and Its Colonies c. 1450-c 1850, edited by M. Jenner and P. Wallis, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, pp. 133-52.

Loveman, Kate. “The Introduction of Chocolate into England: Retailers, Researchers, and Consumers, 1640–1730.” Journal of Social History, vol. 47, no. 1, 2013, pp. 27-46.

Moore, Stacy Gibbons. “’Established and Well-Cultivated’: Afro-American Foodways in Early Virginia.” Virginia Cavalcade, vol. 39, no. 2, June 1989, pp. 70-83.

Notaker, Henry. “Printed Cookbooks: Food History, Book History, and Literature.” Food & History, vol. 10, no. 2, July 2012, pp. 131-59.

Pennell, Sara. “Making Livings, Lives and Archives: Tales of Four Eighteenth-Century Recipe Books.” Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550-1800, edited by Michelle DiMeo and Sara Pennell, Manchester UP, 2013, pp. 225-46.

---. “Perfecting Practice? Women, Manuscript Recipes and Knowledge in Early Modern England.” Early Modern Women's Manuscript Writing, edited by Victoria E Burke, Jonathan Gibson, and Elizabeth Clarke, Ashgate, 2004, pp. 237-58.

Principe, Lawrence M. “Chymical Exotica in the Seventeenth Century, or, How to Make the Bologna Stone.” AMBIX, vol. 63, no. 2, May 2016, pp. 118-44.

Rabb, Theodore K. “‘My Lady Sandys Her Receipts’: A Manuscript of Cookery and Medicine.” Princeton University Library Chronicle, vol. 72, no. 2, 2011, pp. 454-63.

Rankin, Alisha. “Becoming an Expert Practitioner.” ISIS: Journal Of The History Of Science In Society, vol. 98, no.1, 2007, 23-53. JSTOR.

---. “Exotic Materials and Treasured Knowledge: The Valuable Legacy of Noblewomen’s Remedies in Early Modern Germany.” Renaissance Studies, vol. 28, no. 4, Sept. 2014, pp. 533-55.

---. “How to Cure the Golden Vein: Medical Remedies as Wissenschaft in Early Modern Germany.” Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge, edited by Pamela H. Smith, Amy R. W. Meyers, and Harold J. Cook, U of Michigan P, 2014,  pp. 113-37.

Sexton, Regina. “Food and Culinary Cultures in Pre-Famine Ireland.” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C, vol. 115C, Jan. 2015, pp. 257-306.

Shanahan, Madeline. “‘Whipt with a Twig Rod’: Irish Manuscript Recipe Books as Sources for the Study of Culinary Material Culture, c. 1660 to 1830.” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C, vol. 115C, Jan. 2015, pp. 197-218.

Sherman, Sandra. “‘the Whole Art and Mystery of Cooking’: What Cookbooks Taught Readers in the Eighteenth Century.” Eighteenth-Century Life vol. 28, no.1, 2004, pp. 115-35. Academic Search Premier.

Smith, Pamela H. “Making as Knowing: Craft as Natural Philosophy.” Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge, edited by Pamela H. Smith, Amy R. W. Meyers, and Harold J. Cook, U of Michigan P, 2014, pp. 17-47.

---. The Body of the Artisan: Art and Experience in the Scientific Revolution, U of Chicago P, 2004.

---, Amy R. W. Meyers, and Harold J. Cook, ed. Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge, U of Michigan P, 2014.

Snook, Edith. “‘Soveraigne Receipts’ and the Politics of Beauty in The Queens Closet Opened.” Early Modern Literary Studies: A Journal of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Literature, vol. 15,  2007, 19 paragraphs.

---. “Beautiful Hair and Health in Early Modern England.” Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 15, no. 4, 2015, pp. 22-51.  

---. “‘The Beautifying Part of Physic’: Women’s Cosmetic Practices in Early Modern England.” Journal of Women’s History, vol. 20, no. 3, 2008, pp. 10-33.

---. “‘The Women Know’: Children’s Diseases, Recipes and Women’s Knowledge in Early Modern Medical Publications.” Social History of Medicine, vol. 30, no. 1, Feb. 2017, pp. 1-21.

---. Women, Beauty and Power in Early Modern England : A Feminist Literary History. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Spiller, Elizabeth. “Printed Recipe Books in Medical, Political, and Scientific Contexts.” The Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution, edited by Laura Lunger Knoppers, Oxford UP, 2013, pp. 516-533.

---. “Recipes for Knowledge: Maker’s Knowledge Traditions, Paracelsian Recipes, and the Invention of the Cookbook, 1600–1660.” Renaissance Food from Rabelais to Shakespeare: Culinary Readings and Culinary Histories, edited by Joan Fitzpatrick, Ashgate, 2010, pp. 55-72.

Stols-Witlox, Maartje. “'From Reading to Painting’: Authors and Audiences of Dutch Recipes for Preparatory Layers for Oil Painting.” Early Modern Low Countries, vol. 1, no. 1, 2017 2017, pp. 71-134.

Tannenbaum, Rebecca J. “The Housewife as Healer: Medicine as Women’s Work in Colonial New England.” Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Annual Proceedings, vol. 26, July 2001, pp. 160–69.

Taylor, Mary K. “America's First Cookbook.” Early American Life vol. 21, no.1, 1991, pp. 40-3. Academic Search Premier.

Thompson, Phyllis. “Uncovering the Traces Left Behind: Manuscript Recipes, Middleclass Readers, and Reading Practices.” Producing the Eighteenth-Century Book: Writers and Publishers in England, 1650-1800, edited by Laura L. Runge, Pat Rogers, and J. Paul Hunter, U of Delaware P, 2009, pp. 70-94.

Tomasik, Timothy J. “Cuisine by the Cut of One’s Trousers: Cookbook Marketing in Early Modern France.” Food & History, vol. 14, no. 2/3, July 2016, pp. 223-47.

Wall, Wendy. “Blood in the Kitchen: Violence and Early Modern Domestic Work.”  Women, Violence, and English Renaissance Literature: Essays Honoring Paul Jorgensen, edited by Linda Woodbridge and Sharon Beehler, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2003, pp. 329-59.

---. “Distillation: Transformations in and Out of the Kitchen.” Renaissance Food from Rabelais to Shakespeare: Culinary Readings and Culinary Histories, edited by Joan Fitzpatrick, Ashgate, 2010, pp. 89-104.

---. “Literacy and the Domestic Arts.” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 73, no. 3, Sept. 2010, pp. 383-412. JSTOR.

Walker, Timothy. “Medicinal Mercury in Early Modern Portuguese Records: Recipes and Methods from Eighteenth-Century Medical Guidebooks.” Asiatische Studien/Etudes Asiatiques: Zeitschrift Der Schweizerischen Asiengesellschaft/Revue de La Société Suisse-Asie, vol. 69, no. 4, Dec. 2015, pp. 1017–42.

Washington, Martha. Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery:And Booke of Sweetmeats, edited by Karen Hess, Columbia UP, 1995.

Williamson, Mary F.  “Recipes and Household Literature.” History of the Book in Canada. Volume 1, Beginnings to 1840, edited by Patricia Fleming, Gilles Gallichan, and Yvan Lamonde, U of Toronto P, 2004, pp. 275-77.

Wilson, Rachel. “Manuscript Recipe Books as Archaeological Objects: Text and Food in the Early Modern World.” Irish Studies Review, vol. 25, no. 3, Aug. 2017, pp. 400–01.

Winner, Lauren F. “The Foote Sisters’ Compleat Housewife: Cookery Texts as a Source in Lived Religion.” Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550-1800, edited by Michelle DiMeo and Sara Pennell, Manchester UP, 2013, pp. 135–55.

Withey, Alun. “Crossing the Boundaries: Domestic Recipe Collections in Early Modern Wales.” Reading and Writing Recipe Books, 1550-1800, edited by Michelle DiMeo and Sara Pennell, Manchester UP, 2013, pp. 179–202.


Other Pre-1800 Digital Recipe Collections

Cooking in the Archives: Updating Early Modern Recipes (1600-1800) in a Modern Kitchen

Early Modern Recipes Online Collective

Whitney Cookery Collection. New York Public Library, New York.

LUNA: Folger Digital Image Collection. Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C.

Recipe Books. Wellcome Library, London.

Carter, Kevin. “18th and Early 19th Century Cookbooks: Searchable, and Free.”  Savoring the Past.

What’s Cooking? Food, Drink and the Pleasures of Eating in Old-Time Nova Scotia.  Nova Scotia Archives.


Digital Collections of Canadian Recipes (post-1900)

McGill Library Cookbook Collection.