Reading Cookbooks: from The Forme of Cury to The Smitten Kitchen

An illustration showing a selection of game dishes on white plates, including: boiled rabbit; partridge; roast hare; pheasant; and wild duck.

An illustration from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management depicting an assortment of game dishes, including: boiled rabbit, partridge, roast hare, pheasant and wild duck. (Image courtesy of Wellcome Images on Wikimedia Commons. License CC BY.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2017



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

In this course students will visit the past through cookbooks to learn about what foodstuffs and technologies were available and when, and how religious and nutritional concerns dictated what was eaten and how it was cooked. Students will also learn about the gender dynamics of culinary writing and performances and the roles people played in writing and cooking recipes.

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Other OCW Versions

This subject on Problems in Cultural Interpretation explores the relation between imaginative texts and the culture surrounding them, emphasizing ways in which imaginative works absorb, reflect, and conflict with reigning attitudes and world views. Content varies in each version.

Related Content

Ina Lipkowitz. 21L.707 Reading Cookbooks: from The Forme of Cury to The Smitten Kitchen. Spring 2017. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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