Reading and writing recipe books, 1550–1800

Recipe books or collections, one of the most common forms of manuscript compilation to survive, in print and manuscript have only recently received mainstream attention from academic scholars. This book is collection of essays that rehabilitate the early modern recipe text as more than simply a document of domestic life and a functional text of instruction by revealing and debating some of its varied cultural contexts and meanings. The issue of 'authorship' is another point studied in the book. Both print and manuscript recipe texts are invaluable in extending the knowledge of how women were educated. The book addresses ways in which written sources, specifically recipe books, and, within them, culinary recipes and associated writings can be used by archaeologists. It explores genre conventions in English recipes, showing that seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English recipes exhibit some variation that foreshadows the shape of modern recipes. The period 1550-1700 witnessed a burgeoning literature dealing with domestic duties and the philosophy and practice of housewifery. The Foote sisters' copy of The Compleat Housewife opens up at least three routes of inquiry into the religious lives of the Foote women. Hannah Woolley's The Ladies Directory and The Queen-Like Closet show a fluid nature of supposedly stable printed texts, as well as raising questions about the image of the author as a feature of the newly emerging culture of 'celebrity'. The book also explores a selection of medicinal advice and recipes gathered initially by the Boscawen family of Cornwall in the seventeenth century.

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