While some readers are aware of my other blog (and accompanying project), I have not given it the discussion on this blog that it deserves! The blog can be found at this link, and is a part of a larger project called "Modernizing Markham." Gervase Markham was a 17th century English writer, who published books about cookery, horse care, orchards, and sport. I ran across his book, The English Housewife, in the University of Iowa's Szathmary Collection--an awesome collection of cookbooks, manuscripts, and even kitchen appliance manuals. I wrote a paper about it for a class, but I wanted to do more. I decided to focus on Markham for my Center for the Book final project.
Basically, I am taking recipes from the book and using modern equipment and ingredients to recreate them. I am going through his 'banquetting stuffs' menu, so that I'll have a historically-accurate meal by the end of it. On the blog, I talk about the experience of recreating the recipes, but I also place those recipes in their historical context by talking about culinary history and book history. The project is still in its early stages, but there are two posts for recipes up already (one worked great, the other failed miserably but made a great pie filling). In the Spring, I plan to make a calligraphed, pamphlet-bound book with the modern recipes and with my own illustrations. This book will be combined with the contextual information from the blog and with some extracts from Markham's text, and sold as a print-on-demand book. All the information is available for free on the blog, of course, but that is a good option for people who like tangible recipe books. I'm also hoping to prepare some of the food for my friends at the Center for the Book, depending on how much time I have!
I'm really excited about this project because it lets me combine my interests in a really fun way--I get to cook (which I love!), but I also get to pair my interests in history and book arts with my interests in new media and digital humanities. Talking about the historical aspects of the project on a blog allows me to share my ideas with a larger number of people (and hopefully get some good comments and discussion going too!) It's a great way to make these recipes relevant again as well, 400 years after they were written.
Feel free to ask me any questions about the project, and if you have a Twitter account, stay updated on my progress by following @ModernMarkham (or following my own username, @BookishJulia). You can also subscribe to both my blogs on Kindle.