This month, I want to draw your attention to a couple of consumables resources related to the Renaissance. I like to peruse a couple of these databases now and again as I feel it helps to put me in an early modern’s “head space,” so to speak. This is not to mention that they are downright fascinating for articulating the ways in which consumables preparation is culturally constructed, and the fact that there is so much we don’t know about how “flavor” and chemistry work together (as David Chang likes to remind us).
- Yummy Acquisition: The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has recently acquired the first cookbook devoted to pastry making. Le Pastissier françois (The French Pastry Chef), published in 1655 by the great Dutch printing house of Elzevir, is a landmark in the history of cooking and cookbooks. The wood cuts of animals and preparation instructions are stunning, some of which you can see on the Non Solus blog, here.
- Early Modern Recipes Online Collective: This is a useful hub of resources related to early modern cook practices and recipes. There are several attached archives constellated from a number of universities, each stressing the close relationship food, magic, science, and medicine shared in the form of the recipe. The blog is updated regularly with archival finds, recipe tests, and modified recipes to recreate a sixteenth-century board in your own home.
- Intoxicants and Early Modernity, England 1580 – 1740: As a growing database that takes the record of intoxication seriously, this project/archive aims to investigate the importance of intoxicants and intoxication to the economic, social, political, material, and cultural life of England between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The project has a number of related publications, hosts events, and is compiling a database of materials and case studies. I spend a lot of time just reading through the archive materials, so fascinating in and of themselves. More at intoxicantsproject.org.