I am fascinated by the stories cookbooks tell and the lives they let us enter. Recipe reading has long been an important method of social cartography, telling us not only about the ingredients, cooking methods and dishes favoured in particular times and places, but also about the lives of others near and far.
Women’s lives are especially prominent between the lines. Cookbooks were a means through which women’s voices were heard and their knowledge and creativity documented. Often this took shape in the form of cook’s notes scrawled in the margins and shared with friends. Without handwritten recipes and personal annotations cookbooks would likely be far less revealing – and intriguing!
While I love finding old books that contain notes and inscriptions, and pour over scholarly work documenting the social and material history of recipes, I rarely write in my own cookbooks. I began to reflect on this when I came across a post devoted to writing in cookbooks on one of my must read daily food sites. I do keep a recipe journal with recipes shared by friends and family, or adapted from books and blogs, but I rarely make annotations on the pages of my cookbooks despite the fact that I use some of them frequently. Am I denying others a peek into my life by failing to personalize my cookbooks with additional information? Perhaps I should get scribbling …
Do you write in your cookbooks or do you prefer to document your notes and substitutions elsewhere?Related posts: The unknown reader as writer Cookbook confidential Researching reading & eating