|Fig. 1. My copy of Apples for Jam, replete with page markers for my favourite recipes.|
We always saved our mango stones. We tore off every scrap with our teeth and then washed and scrubbed them carefully, running our nails first in one direction and then the other until they were clean of all mango. After they were towel-dried, we kept our mango pets and brushed their lovely hair with our old toothbrushes. They still needed a bath and looking after now and then (110)Kiros’ works play on the fragmentary nature both of cookery books and memory itself, and their intersections with materiality.
|Fig 2. Nigella's Thai Green Curry (additional instructions by Hannah).|
|Fig. 3. Pages from my sister's cookbook, including recipes from friends and family|
|Fig. 4. A recipe in my cookbook for Sussex Sausage Casserole (from Steve's friend at work)|
|Fig. 5. My mum's made-up soup recipe, in my cookbook.|
|Fig. 6. Dhal recipe in my mum's handwriting, on a well-used page from my cookbook.|
The pictures above are from recipe books belonging to myself and my sister (figs. 3-6). But we’re only the latest in a long line of women to compile manuscript or scrapbook cookbooks. The pictures below are of a cookbook given to my mother by her mother - it contains recipes and remedies noted down by Anne Chamberlain, one of her (and - obviously - my) ancestors (figs. 7-9). Some of the recipes have attributions, some don’t, and what makes the book particularly poignant is that in 1793, Anne records her name as ‘Anne Cross’ - but by 1812, she is ‘Anne Chamblerlain’- and practices writing her new name on the inside cover. Anne took her family’s recipes into her married life, continued to add to them, and passed them down to the next generation (my mother and I haven’t yet cooked from this book - perhaps that’s another blog post).
|Fig. 7. 'Anne Cross - Her Book. 1793'|
|Fig. 8. 'Anne Chamberlain. Her Book. 1812'|
|Fig. 9. A recipe for plain cake (interrupted by instructions for making syrup)|
These compilation cookbooks are collections, of course. They share a strong relationship to material memory with physical collections of objects. Like collections of stamps or coins, they're a personal legacy and often passed through family lines. But discussions about collecting behaviours tend to exclude them from their analysis. There’s clearly a gender dimension to this omission - historically, domestic cookbooks tend to be written and compiled by women, who, as Susan Pearce recognises, are less frequently identified as collectors. In part this is due to their absence from typical collecting records such as museum registers, but also because the history of women’s collecting is ‘largely domestic...in which collected material mixes...with other kinds of goods, and the whole forms a unity to which no dividing self or specifying self-consciousness is attached’ (On Collecting, 207).
Jean Baudrillard, 'The System of Collecting', in The Cultures of Collecting, ed. John Elsner and Roger Cardinal (London: Reaktion Books, 1994), pp. 7-24
Nicola Humble, Culinary Pleasures: Cookbooks and the Transformation of British Food (London: Faber and Faber, 2005)
Tessa Kiros, Apples for Jam (New South Wales: Murdoch Books, 2006)
Andrea K. Newlyn, 'Redefining 'Rudimentary' Narrative: Women's Nineteenth-Century Manuscript Cookbooks', in The Recipe Reader: Narratives, Contexts, Traditions, ed. Janet Floyd and Laurel Forster (Lincolna and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), pp. 31-51
Susan Pearce, On Collecting: An investigation into collecting in the European tradition (London: Routledge, 1995)
Nigel Slater, The Kitchen Diaries (London: Fourth Estate, 2005)