Rhymes, Realities and Recipes

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The most important change early in the nineteenth century was toward numerical rigidity. Instructions such as "do it till it is done" can be unsettling.

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However, traditional cooks knew when "it is done" better than they knew "twenty-five minutes. The preoccupation with precise recipes belongs to "rationalization," the shift from hands-on, traditional methods to calculation, measurement, and control. Writing for the "rational Epicure" Kitchiner, , p. The time requisite for dressing was stated and the quantities set down in number, weight, and measure.

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Even then, an English cookery book did not require many measurements. The bulk of Kitchiner's recipes explained each of the main methods, which for him were boiling, baking, roasting, deep frying, and broiling. The few recipes for accompanying sauces specified quantities. The category of "Broths, gravies, and soups" also occasioned some precision. As many cooks can confirm, recipe measurements have remained imprecise and inconsistent.

American writers tend to use volume rather than weight, so measures of even sugar and flour are given in "cups.

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Many recipes contain vague statements such as "low heat. With mass literacy and the mass production of cookery books from the mid-nineteenth century, enormous treatises extended to a thousand pages and by the early twentieth century exceeded two thousand pages. Meanwhile cooks exchanged innumerable recipes on scraps of paper and in exercise books. Since the late nineteenth century, recipes have been a widespread marketing device, intruding into domestic culture on behalf of new products from gelatine to electric stoves.

Incalculable numbers of recipes arrive on packaging; supermarket leaflets; in newspapers, magazines, and books; and on the Internet. Customers are invited to "send a self-addressed envelope for a free copy of our recipe booklet. In turn, many cookery writers in newspapers and elsewhere rely on these recipes. Old recipes provide clues as to how others dined, but their relationship with actual practices is far from straightforward.

Printed texts have often represented a sometimes idiosyncratic or idealized version of reality.

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For such reasons, culinary historians have shown an interest in personal recipe manuscripts. Relatively little concerted effort has yet gone into recording actual foodways before they are lost, however. As recipes shifted in identification from seemingly ageless traditions to individual creativity, plagiarism became an issue. Eighteenth-century authors commonly protested their own originality against others' piracy. Reviewing his predecessors, Kitchiner declared that "cutting and pasting seem to have been much oftener employed than the Pen and Ink" Kitchiner, , p.

Eliza Acton was honest enough to boast in Modern Cookery in the mid-nineteenth century that she relayed "carefully tested recipes," and she appended the occasional notation "Author's Receipt" and "Author's Original Receipt" rather than see "strangers coolly taking the credit and the profits of my toil" Acton, , p. Yet meticulous sleuthing, such as Fiona Lucraft's in "The London Art of Plagiarism" on Farley "the fraudster," can be seen as a misplaced preoccupation with property rights in an unashamedly collective form, in which everyone borrows from everyone.

A recipe might almost be the better for not being original, for having proved itself. In the converse of plagiarism, cookery authors acknowledge a source and then provide a "modernized, adapted" travesty. Recipes remain essentially in the public domain. Belonging to no one, they are free and innocent. Or they would be, except for recipes as commercial promotions, which are quickly joining the scarcely traceable pool.


Acton, Eliza. Modern Cookery, for Private Families [etc]. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, Originally published in and revised Translated and edited by Barbara Flower and Elisabeth Rosenbaum.

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London: Harrap, The Deipnosophists. Translated by Charles Burton Gulick. Cambridge, Mass. Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

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New York : Knopf, Exeter, U. Chang, K. New Haven , Conn. It was the law, apparently! It was little wonder then that for an eight-year-old me, time spent away from school was precious. It was my time where I could do the things that I wanted to do, away from all the mundane day-to-day things forced on us by our teachers. Why on earth would I want to stay in reading a book, when I could be out playing football with friends, or building dens and climbing trees in the woods?

I recall one happy Christmas afternoon rummaging through my pile of presents in a corner of my lounge and discovering a book nestled among them. I say discovering, as the reality was I probably tossed the book aside paying very little attention to it the first time around. The same way I had discarded the numerous pairs of socks and underwear with a distinct lack of interest in order to get to the good stuff!

Feeling intrigued, I turned the pages. I was soon met with a vision I can still recall to this day — a rather ugly-looking lady having her head chopped off by a man wielding a sword. Here are some photos that capture the excitement of the most recent celebrations. The children were all very egg-cited when a special Easter visitor hopped into our creches last week! Summer is festival time in Giraffe! The children look forward to the Summer Festivals every year, and every Giraffe Centre hosts different events through the summer months.

We have as many fun outdoor activities […]. Challah is a special Jewish braided bread. The one made for Rosh Hashanah is made with […]. But are we losing out by letting the art of penmanship die? Our latest infographic looks at the benefits and more that come with learning […]. Please leave your details and one of our team will get back to tell you more about what we do.

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