Module 4

Historical food

Here is a link to a fascinating Food Timeline. When you click on the foods, you are taken to a whole heap of information about that food.

Talk about special interest! Here is a list of food-centred historical novels:

Did you know food is becoming an increasingly popular way to engage museum visitors? Tove Danovich’s article, “How Food Earned Its Place in American Museums”, from Eater (October 23 2015) explains why:

And here is an on-line Food Museum: 

The Cook and the Curator is a fascinating blog from Sydney’s Living Museums. It looks at the food, gardens, and dining accoutrements from Sydney’s past:

The Historical Cooking Project has an academic slant, being based on new research about food. This is how its authors describe what they do:

Founded in November 2013, The Historical Cooking Project began with monthly bilingual meetings where members would cook recipes from a chosen cookbook using the culinary techniques (when possible) of the same time period as the book’s original publication. For the first eighteen months of the organization, we surveyed recipes from many different time periods and continents.

The blog can be found at:

Cooking in the Archives is subtitled: “Updating Early Modern Recipes (1600-1800) in a Modern Kitchen”. They interpret, adapt, make and eat recipes found in old manuscripts. See “A tarte of green pease” for the kind of fascinating experience they have. 

History’s Just Desserts is Amanda Moniz’s blogsite that explores “American history through desserts and their makers”. What a great idea!


Historical writers and their writings on food from the past

Read more about Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin on the Cook’s Info website:


Modern-day writers writing about food from the past

 Ken Albala, 2007, Beans: A History, Oxford, UK: Berg.

Katarzyna J Cwiertka, 2012, Cuisine, Colonialism and Cold War: Food in Twentieth-Century Korea, London: Reaktion Books.

Jeffrey Hays, 2008, “Ancient Egyptian Food, Beer and Drink”, Ancient Egyptian Food, Beer and Drink: Facts and Details

Mark Lehner, 1997, “Mystery of the Bread Pot!”, Nova Online, February 3

K Annabelle Smith, 2013, “Why the Tomato Was Feared for More Than 200 Years”,, June 18

Laura B Weiss, 2011, Ice Cream: A Global History, London: Reaktion Books. (One in a series of “A Global History” food books. The series also includes Milk; Lobster; Lemon; Hamburger and Tea, among others.)

Li Zhou, 2015, “The Food Americans Once Loved to Eat”,, “Turtles, beavers and eel were once beloved staples fo the continental diet. What happened?”



Here is a really interesting YouTube clip about the kitchens at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court, and costumed food historians’ recreation of a feast. There is a passing mention of spices:

Heston Blumenthal has made a reputation—and several series of television shows—from researching, then applying techniques of past times. Here are two clips from his Medieval food shows: 

And just for fun, another BuzzFeed clip. This time they make “vintage” recipes, that is, from the 1960s and 1970s. Those decades actually seem pretty recent to me, but then, I am a dinosaur! But strangely I don’t remember any of these recipes.