I’ve always been a keen cook, and until recently I’ve considered the reasons for this to be as follows:
1. I love eating. If I make my food, I can make it just how I want it (although essentially, this usually means with extra cheese).
2. Creating time-consuming meals somehow helps me to relax. The more stressed I am, the more complicated the food. While writing my Masters dissertation last summer my fiancé was treated to an endless procession of ridiculous kyaraben-style lunches. I am sure his colleagues at the office were confused about why a 30-something year old was tucking into onigiri in the shape of panda bears.
3. Cooking for other people is wonderful. Having friends over for dinner is one of the greatest pleasures in life. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just happy people eating tasty food. Food is a great way to celebrate.
Literature has always been another great interest of mine, and at some point during my postgraduate studies I got the idea to combine two of my favourite things, and I wrote a few term papers about early modern cookbooks and food in literature.
I had discovered a new reason to cook. Trying out recipes as printed in the earliest cookbooks felt like it could be a way to connect with the past, a way of uncovering centuries-old mysteries. When I finished studying, my mother said to me “you don’t have to stop learning just because you’re not paying for it anymore”. Weirdly, I hadn’t really thought about this. So you’re not at Uni any more, I thought, Why not do some research anyway? Why not just do something for fun? And then, Why not start a blog about it?
I’m trying to do something a bit interesting, a bit personal, and hopefully a bit fun. There are a lot of good resources out there on the internet relating to cooking from historical recipes, particularly the excellent www.medievalcookery.com/ which is a great directory to other sites and cook book texts, as well as a fascinating site in itself. However, this blog will be my attempt to contribute a little bit to the wealth of information on the web about Renaissance cookery mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries. I’ll be focussing on particular foods, trying out some authentic recipes and also delving a little into the wider culture of the period, looking at how foods are used in literary texts as well as in recipe books.
The adventure begins later this week with a classic confection, “marchpane”….