A Brief History of Cookbooks and Recipes

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Duration 01:05:47

Culinary Historian

Sarah Lohman is a culinary historian and the author of the bestselling book Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine. She focuses on the history of food to access the stories of diverse Americans. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as on The Cooking Channel and “All Things Considered.” Formerly the Curator of Food Programming at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, she has presented across the country: from the Smithsonian Museum of American History and the New York Public Library to The Culinary Historians of Southern California. Her current project, Endangered Eating: Exploring America’s Vanishing Cuisine will be released in January 2023.



Click here to download a special handout that Professor Lohman prepared for this class. The handout includes a fascinating list of historical cookbooks.

Today, we take recipes for granted — that they should be easy to follow, teach us technique, and produce exceptional results. But cookbooks have evolved over the past 1,000 years and their intentions and meanings have changed over time. In the class, we’ll explore:

· The first written recipes on cuneiform tablets

· The visceral delights of eating in the ancient Muslim world

· The first cookbook written by an East Asian woman

· The legacy of Black cookbook writers in America

· The Queer activism cookbooks of the 20th century

…and everything in between! Additionally, participants will receive a guide to accessing these historical sources in print and online!




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Hans Bleiker

Loved to learn about the world history of cooking.

2 years ago
Lyn Rosen


I love Sarah’s bright enthusiasm and the breadth of her research and presentation. A fascinating overview! My only wish would be that she slowed down a bit! That might have prevented many of the um’s, ah’s and basically’s that peppered her speech. But I did enjoy it very much.

1 year ago
barbara ann.fields


Thank you for such an informative, honest and inclusive presentation. I have not used cookbooks before but I will look into them to continue my cu!inary journey and explore other cultures.

1 year ago
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