Author: Elaine Leong

From the Hearth to the Gas Stove: A Study in Apricot Marmalade

By Marissa Nicosia The early modern hearth and the modern gas stove are rather different technologies for controlling heat. Again and again in my recipe recreation work for Cooking in the Archives, I encounter complex instructions for managing cooking temperatures on a hearth and try to translate those instructions to my…

HEAT! A Recipes Project Thematic Series

As humans, we want to control heat. We want to create heat, temper or even extinguish it, depending on context and purpose. We have a very limited temperature range at which we are comfortable (some microbes and bacteria can survive temperatures as low as -20C and as high as 130C),…

Roman Recipes and the Senses

By Erica Rowan We do not have many recipes from the ancient world and certainly none presented in the user-friendly format found in today’s cookbooks with precise measurements, cooking times and images of the finished product. Some ancient recipes are found at the end of agrarian handbooks, like those produced by…

Gershom Bulkeley (1635-1713): A Sensory Chymist in Colonial Connecticut

By Donna Bilak Who was Gershom Bulkeley? (you may well ask). A Harvard-educated Puritan gentleman from an important New England family, Bulkeley spent most of his life in Connecticut as a colonial divine, physician, and magistrate of upstanding (and by contemporary accounts obstinate) character. Bulkeley was also an iatrochymist –…

Recipes and the Senses: An Introduction

By Hannah Newton   Our enjoyment of food depends not just on how it tastes and smells, but also on what it looks, feels, and sounds like. Crispness, for instance, is perceived when we hear a ‘snap’ as the food breaks between our teeth. This relatively new understanding of gastronomic…

A Taste for the Rare and the Well-Done: Recipe Texts and the Book Trade

By Anke Timmermann Part II: The thrill of the hunt Rare book dealers working on recipe collections are in the enviable position to be able to do original work on unique and little-researched materials, and to learn from the collections they handle, as well as from collectors, whether private or…

The Wellcome Library’s Manuscript Recipe Books: Reflections on a Quarter-century of Collecting

By Richard Aspin Manuscript recipe books were at the forefront of Henry Wellcome’s collecting activities. Perhaps no other genre of European written artefact spoke more directly to his conception of healthcare as the fundamental preoccupation of human beings. Indeed his first recorded Library acquisition in 1897 was a late 17th-century…

Storytelling and Practical Skills in Medical Recipes

By Ying Zhang What constituted a medical recipe in late imperial China? Literati physicians often touted the efficacy of a medical formula by contending that it conforms to traditional order of the emperor and his officials. They might also praise the suitability of the drug combination for treating that individual body’s…

Water to Drink: Fit Only for Invalids and Chickens?

By David Gentilcore  When the French Dominican Jean-Baptiste Labat was captured by the Spanish in the 1690s, and offered water to drink aboard ship, he informed the chaplain that ‘only invalids and chickens drink water in my country’ (Labat 1722). Perhaps this comes as no surprise. If people in past times…

The Live Chicken Treatment for Buboes: Trying a Plague Cure in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

By Erik Heinrichs  While researching German plague treatises I became fascinated by one odd treatment for buboes that appeared again and again, despite sounding so far-fetched. One sixteenth-century version calls for plucking the feathers from around the single hole in a chicken’s backside, then placing it on a person’s bubo.…

True but not Tested: Experimentation in the Apothecary’s Shop

By Valentina Pugliano Testing and standardization are firmly entrenched in the pharmacological imagination of western biomedicine and its public. Before a new drug can be put on the market, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration demands five rounds of trials. Approximately 70% of new ‘recipes’ fails to pass the first…

When Does a Drug Trial End?

By Justin Rivest The question I’d like to begin this post by asking is, When does a drug enter “normal use”? Is a trial a “provisional” phase, that reaches a definitive end, say when “proof” is found, or when the relevant authorities are convinced? Or in an age where drug…

Testing Drugs and Trying Cures

By Elaine Leong and Alisha Rankin As readers of this blog well know, early modern Europe was aflood with recipes and drugs. One central question has long preoccupied many of us –  just how did our historical actors assess, test and try out recipes, drugs and materia medica? A few…

Tales from the Archives: Testing Drugs and Trying Cures Workshop Summary

In September 2016, The Recipes Project celebrated its fourth birthday. We now have over 500 posts in our archives and over 120 pages for readers to sift through. That’s a lot of material! (And thank you so much to our contributors for sharing such a wealth of knowledge on recipes.)…

Reconstructing Recipes? : Day 7 of “What is a Recipe?”

By Amanda Herbert and Elaine Leong Here at the Recipes Project virtual conversation Day 7, reconstruction has also emerged as a main theme.  What does “reconstruction” entail?  Is it following directions laid out by someone long-dead?  Or is it breaking down a past concept or culture according to our own…

Recipes as a Connecting Thread: Reflections on Day 4

By Amanda Herbert and Elaine Leong Day Four represented the best of what our “What Is A Recipe” digital conversation has come to represent.  Our contributors joined the #recipesconf conversation in a wide range of media: blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, Instagram photo essays, and Tweetstorms.  As our discussion ranged…