Problems in Cultural Interpretation

Cookbooks can tell us how to bake a really good chocolate cake, but what is it we find when we read between the lines? Not only sources of recipes, cookbooks are also windows into the worlds that produced them, revealing what foods were available (and to whom), what technologies were used, who cooked (and for whom), and what food meant to the people who produced, transported, processed, cooked, and ate it. In this class we will give the same care and attention to American cookbooks and food blogs that are often given more traditional forms of writing. We will focus on women’s contributions because historically it was through domestic manuals, recipes, and cookery books that women expressed themselves. Even today, with so many avenues open to them, women continue to dominate both cookbook publishing and the culinary blogosphere.