Culinary history

Authored by: Ken Albala

Routledge International Handbook of Food Studies

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782647
eBook ISBN: 9780203819227
Adobe ISBN: 9781136741661

10.4324/9780203819227.ch10

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Abstract

Food history is a broad academic discipline encompassing many varied methodologies and theoretical positions, and employs practically any written document or artifact from the past as primary source material on which research is based. It employs both qualitative and quantitative approaches and borrows conceptual models freely from other disciplines. As a distinct subset of this larger field is culinary history, which is concerned foremost with what people in the past actually cooked, how and where food was served, and what particular dishes meant to the people who ate them. As such it focuses primarily on cookbooks, but also related gastronomic literature such as restaurant reviews, menus, guidebooks, and a wealth of related writings on diet, farming, herbal lore as well as historic cooking implements, paintings of kitchen scenes and historic sites related to food. The ultimate goal of culinary history is to engage with the past via food practices, largely from an aesthetic vantage point rather than as a means to discovering attitudes about class, gender, race, and other cultural values. The latter falls under the category of the social and cultural history of food.

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