Author: Elaine Leong

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…

Seasonality and the (Re)creation of Early Modern Color Worlds

By Jenny Boulboullé Color played an important role in the early modern world across a number of areas from arts and crafts to Christian religion to politics to natural history and philosophy. In recent years, scholars have begun to explore how early modern men and women engaged, produced and conceptualized…

Living in Seasons: Mulberry Wine, or the Moral Perils of Recipes in Times of Austerity

By He Bian April and May on the US east coast = temperature swings = confusing and sickly weather. This year especially reminds me of the sobering admonition from the ancient Chinese classic of medicine, <The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon>: “when there is damage from cold in winter, one suffers…

Tales from the Archives: A November Feast in Medieval Europe

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.)…

Seasonality @ The Recipes Project

By Elaine Leong Happy May Day everyone! I am very excited to be on-point editor for the 2017 May edition of The Recipes Project. Living in Germany, where there is a ‘saison’ or a ‘- zeit’ for almost everything – Spargel (asparagus), Erdbeerkuchen (strawberry cake), Kurbis (pumpkin), Pflaumen (plums), Balkon…

Recipes for Magic

By Frank Klassen My house was remarkably crowded and had a bit of a holiday feel about it. It was mid-winter and twenty or so students from the University of Saskatchewan had taken up my invitation to try out a procedure and a device described in pre-modern magic manuscripts: molybdomancy…