Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Neat links...

Through EarMarks in Early Modern Culture, I found a great post at Early Modern Notes - a round-up of various blog entries covering the early modern period.



Saturday, August 26, 2006

The British Housewife - Book Review

The British Housewife Cookery-books, Cooking and Society in 18th-century Britain by Gilly Lehmann

One of my tasks I do is collect recipes. I cut them out of the newspaper, magazines, etc. and organize them in a way they can be used.

This is an old practice and Gilly Lehmann traces the practice of keeping “receipt” books to the publication of full-blown cookbooks in the 18th century in The British Housewife: Cookery Books, Cooking and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain.

Lehmann shows how the initial cookbooks of the 17th century were merely collections of recipes of ladies. These manuscripts were published in pretty much the form they were submitted in. The true cookbook emerged with the growing popularity of court cooking. The upper-class wanted to emulate the table of royalty and cookbooks were published accordingly.

Throughout the 18th century, the cookbook changes along with society. The first books were created with the mistress of the house in mind. She would instruct her cooks on how to prepare the recipes. The dishes were heavily influenced by the French. Also, the books contained information on creating medicines and other household tips. The books evolved and soon stressed economics and pressed the simplicity of the English dishes. As the century progressed and literacy rates increased, the books were written for the servant class so they could improve their skills. Ladies, even middle class ones, had other, more important things to do than bother with the kitchen and menu planning. Cookery books became more and more geared towards professional women-women who cooked for a living. There would still be a few sections geared towards the mistress of the house, bills of fare to help a young mistress plan a party and such.

The British Housewife follows how cooking styles changed along with society. The books were primarily written by women for women. They ran the gamut of price. There were books written by men, but they were geared towards male cooks. The books followed the trends of food fashions. The French were considered the height of fashion in the beginning of the century but they were later scoffed at. What was served at the table said much about the person, beyond their wealth. French foods came to be equated with the very tops of society, running along political lines. Whigs ate French food. Tories ate the simple, solid English roasts and puddings. Although many of the books included French recipes, the authors themselves would denigrate the French style.

Table manners and presentation changed throughout the century as well and Lehmann includes an analysis in her book. From the ultra-formal style of the Restoration towards the simpler bourgeois manners at the end of the century, the food and manners were interconnected. Lehmann does a great job of following these trends, backing up her findings with primary sources.

Food has always defined society. Lehmann shows exactly how the 18th century ushered in the modern style of cooking. This book is wonderful for anyone interested in the 18th century. What was eaten and how it was presented is fascinating. How the elements of the table defined a person’s status and political leanings is interesting. Although her focus is more from a food historian’s interest, anyone with familiarity of the period will gain something.

This is definitely a scholarly book, not light reading. I would not recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have a basic knowledge of the period, or actually, I don’t think a reader can appreciate it fully unless they have some background in the 18th century. The book isn’t difficult to read, but it was written with scholars in mind.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

New resources!

Yep, it's been a while since I posted here - sorry about that! Here are some cool resources I found recently:

If Art History is your thing, here is a comprehensive list of websites dedicated to eighteenth century art.

The Age of George III has a new home on the web. This site is a treasure trove for English history enthusiasts.

The theatre has always been big in France, learn all about eighteenth century French drama at the Theatre Database.

Looking for books to add to your already groaning bookshelves? Why not check out this new bio of artist Anglica Kauffman or Thomas Crow's revised study of artists during the French Revolution.

Is costume more your style? Hop on over to the Eighteenth Century Costume Gallery at The Met.

Enjoy! And I promise not to take so long between posts here :-)


Currently Reading: Madame de Staël: An Extraordinary Life by Maria Fairweather

Sunday, April 23, 2006


One thing I really despise is when I get a book recommendation and either can't find the book or it is so expensive I can't justify buying it. This happens quite often for the books I need for architecture and houses. Let me preface by saying I'm not generally looking for scholarly texts, for my purposes, I'm looking for picture books. Finding terms and definitions for furniture and architectural styles is pretty easy, but having a picture of it is another. I like having a picture to guide me, and not just a sketch or diagram. I want to see it in action as it were. Anyway, those kinds of books aren't cheap. But I've been lucky lately so I thought I'd share a couple of titles.

England's Thousand Best Houses by Simon Jenkins is a great book with a survey of, well, the best houses. I got it used for under $5. The English Country House: A Grand Tour by Gervase Jackson-Stops & James Pipkin is spectacular. Filled with big pictures and divided by rooms, it is so inspirational for writers when trying to create that perfect country manor. I think I paid about $7 for it. Last but not least is a little gem I found in a used bookstore. It's called Historic Houses, Castles & Gardens in Great Britain & Ireland. Mine was published in 1979 but it was published after that as well. I got mine for $2 at a used bookstore and I'm buying another one for $8 (my old one is falling apart and this newer one was published in 2001). While in itself not a research book, it is a guidebook divided by counties which gives you the basics of a property. It is easy enough to find the house on the Internet and get more information. While these books do not deal strictly with homes built in the 18th century, Georgian architecture is significantly represented.

Do you have any sources for great books at good prices? I do have a marvelous college library near me, but with having little ones around, its hard for me to go back and forth, so I do like to have some basic references. If anyone has a source for discount books on 18th century costume, I'd be thrilled. I can only check out Aileen Ribeiro's book so many times and I'm not willing to pay for that huge amount for it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mozart...

Yes, it's Mozart's 250th birthday!! I just LOVE his music. Not that I ever did it justice while playing it *g*, but it's amazing to listen to and there's something for every mood. Must really dig out the Amadeus soundtrack.

My link of the day over at my writing blog will take you to Stephanie Cowell's site for her wonderful, wonderful book Marrying Mozart. I read it a couple of years ago for review and just fell in love with it. Even better, I got to meet her last year at the HNS conference in SLC.

Here are some more Mozart links :-)

CBC Radio Two's Mozart 250

Internet Public Library - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart at Carolina Classical Connection

Bio of Mozart at The Classical Music Archives



Friday, January 20, 2006

Some links...

At last, I'm updating this page :-) Thanks to Rene and Mel for posting over the last few months while I was distracted *g*.

Are you a fan of the art of the 18th century? If you are, visit this site:
ART HISTORY RESOURCES: Part 11 18th-Century Art

Is the history of the British Isles more your thing? For a brief outline of the Georgian period, stop by the BBC History site:
British Timeline - Georgians

What about the City of Lights - want to know more about Paris in the Early Modern period, then consult this bibliography:
The Early Modern City (1500-1800): France

If gardens are your thing, learn about 18th Century French Gardens

For those of you more interested in American Architecture of the 18th century, you'll find lots of links through the Digital Archive of American Architecture

Ok - I'm off to make a latte now. Enjoy the links :-) And I promise to pop in here more often, with more interesting observations and links about this fascinating time period.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Y2K? Piece of Cake

Back in 1999, I remember my company had whole IT teams devoted to solving the Y2K issue.  Boy, what a cake walk compared to switching calendars.  I wonder at how modern business would deal with the sudden loss of eleven days.

The switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar has always confused me.  Calendars through the Ages explains the why’s of the change and the origins of the two calendars.   The site also has the text for the British Calendar Act of 1751.   Wikpedia has a good and thorough explanation although I admit it confused me.  I’m not much of one for astronomical terms.  I slept through astronomy in college.    What I did like about this site was its discussion about how Britain and American usage differs.    If you have a strong desire to convert the dates, I found a calculator created by the U.S. Naval Observatory.  

Notes For British Calendar Act of 1751 For The Year 1752 goes into a more scholarly discussion about how the Act was put into play and gives an explanation about the text itself.  The Gregorian Calendar—History is a bit more lighthearted and has simpler way of explaining the situation.   April Fool's Day began to be recognized in 1752 because of the calendar change, so I suppose the inventors of the whoopee cushion and plastic spilled drinks should be grateful for the calendar change.

What problems this must have caused in Britain and the colonies is discussed briefly at this genealogy site.   Always in the mood for a riot, the change in the calendar riled the mobs of London.  And who the heck wants to be eleven days older?  Hence people changed their birth dates and started using the new style to rectify the difference.