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Recipes and Everyday Knowledge

Medicine, Science, and the Household in Early Modern England

Elaine Leong

Recipes and Everyday Knowledge

Elaine Leong

288 pages | 19 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2018 
Paper $32.50 ISBN: 9780226583662 Published November 2018
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226583495 Published November 2018
E-book $10.00 to $32.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226583525 Published November 2018
Across early modern Europe, men and women from all ranks gathered medical, culinary, and food preservation recipes from family and friends, experts and practitioners, and a wide array of printed materials. Recipes were tested, assessed, and modified by teams of householders, including masters and servants, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, and fathers and sons. This much-sought know-how was written into notebooks of various shapes and sizes forming “treasuries for health,” each personalized to suit the whims and needs of individual communities.
 
In Recipes and Everyday Knowledge, Elaine Leong situates recipe knowledge and practices among larger questions of gender and cultural history, the history of the printed word, and the history of science, medicine, and technology. The production of recipes and recipe books, she argues, were at the heart of quotidian investigations of the natural world or “household science”. She shows how English homes acted as vibrant spaces for knowledge making and transmission, and explores how recipe trials allowed householders to gain deeper understandings of sickness and health, of the human body, and of natural and human-built processes. By recovering this story, Leong extends the parameters of natural inquiry and productively widens the cast of historical characters participating in and contributing to early modern science.
Contents
Abbreviations

Introduction: Recipes, Households, and Everyday Knowledge

Chapter 1. Making Recipe Books in Early Modern England: Material Practices and the Social Production of Knowledge
Chapter 2. Managing Health and Household from Afar
Chapter 3. Collecting Recipes Step-by-Step
Chapter 4. Recipe Trials in the Early Modern Household
Chapter 5. Writing the Family Archive: Recipes and the Paperwork of Kinship
Chapter 6. Recipes for Sale: Intersections between Manuscript and Print Cultures

Conclusion: Recipes Beyond the Household

Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Review Quotes
Times Higher Education
"Building on detailed manuscript research, and proceeding through a series of case studies, Leong provides an engaging picture of the households of the landed elite as sites of collaborative knowledge creation, thereby contributing to a broader understanding of 'science' in early modern England."
Ambix
"In this long-anticipated work, Elaine Leong excels in uncovering the world of early modern English recipe collections in an accessible and insightful narrative. . . . Just as early modern recipe compilers considered the cost and appearance of the manuscripts they created and the printed collections they purchased, there is great value in the presentation of Leong’s book. The structure and thematic approach to the chapters allows both specialists and non-specialists to understand the material and intellectual life and significance of recipe books. The paperback format and its wonderful array of figures make the book affordable and accessible, which has been a challenge in academic publishing. Leong's passion and commitment to the history of recipe books is evident from the multitude of fantastic case studies and rich examples that took years of dedicated research to unearth. The result is a clearer understanding of how recipes were used in making and documenting natural knowledge. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in recipes, for social historians, and for those looking to broaden their understanding of science and its multitude of practitioners in early modern England."
Annals of Science
"While Leong's findings clearly build on the history of domestic life and household management, the study also makes significant contributions to less obvious strands of historical scholarship. . . . While the book is not explicitly about health, it adds depth to the history of the patient by revealing how ordinary men and women understood and treated their ailing bodies, as well as how they situated that care within household labour. . . . One of the great strengths of this book is Leong's clever scholarly approach. She uses innovative methods developed out of the history of reading and the history of the book to recover not simply what recipes say, but also how they were produced and used. She also interprets her sources using frameworks and contexts that are not typically associated with recipes, such as 'paper technologies' and 'paperwork of kinship'. While the book is ostensibly a series of case studies centred on a handful of families, the sum of its parts is comprehensive and complex. The sophistication of the book's arguments – not to mention the impressive length of its bibliography – attest to the thousands of recipes and years of archival research that give depth and empirical weight to the stories in Recipes and Everyday Knowledge. Most impressively, Leong takes texts as seemingly terse and opaque as recipes and skilfully uses them to piece together the otherwise invisible details of early modern domestic labour and experimentation."
Lauren Kassell, University of Cambridge
“Take thousands of recipes, hundreds of family notebooks, dozens of households, and a few experimental philosophers. Heat slowly. Season with questions about how knowledge is made and by whom. Bottle for anyone afflicted with curiosity about the past. This isn’t just the definitive book on early modern recipes. With playful prose and choice examples, it masterfully recasts the household as a site of knowledge production and challenges us to rethink the politics and practices of science and medicine.”
Mary E. Fissell, The Johns Hopkins University
"Recipes and Everyday Knowledge is a game-changer for the study of medical recipes, bringing the whole area of scholarship to a new level of sophistication. Leong exploits a wealth of sources beautifully, persuading her readers that the home was a very significant site for knowledge-making in seventeenth-century England.”
Pamela H. Smith, Columbia University
"Elaine Leong’s elegantly written Recipes and Everyday Knowledge: Medicine, Science and the Household in Early Modern England is a close-grained and cutting edge examination of processes of knowledge-making as they took place in practices of reading, writing, compiling, exchanging, testing, revising, and disseminating domestic recipes. Scrutinizing hundreds of handwritten recipe collections handed down in families, Leong tracks and reconstructs in detail methods of working with recipes, revealing their social and epistemic dimensions. She illuminates their collaborative, collective, and cumulative nature, tracing the intersection of manuscript and print collections, and demonstrating that recipe recording and collecting was active knowledge-making that involved the engagement with and experimentation on materials. Rather than passive repositories, Leong reveals recipes and recipe collections in early modern culture to be more like today’s apps, providing users with flexible platforms from which they could “make and know.” In showing how these texts were produced and used, Leong exposes the practices of recipe gathering and testing as part and parcel of early modern empiricism."

History of Science Society: Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize
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History of Science Society: Pfizer Award
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