Cookbook Research: Windermere Cookery
Using Cookbooks to Document the Challenges and Solutions of Daily Home Life
Cookbooks (and cookbook research) are sometimes not taken seriously. Ferguson (2012) suggests that cookbooks deserve respect as a form of minor literature: they are written in stripped-down functional English that can be easily recognized (like poetry): they are political in nature; and the language of the recipes reflects the values of the writer, community and context.
In a paper prepared for the Canadian Symposium XV: Issues and Directions in Home Economics / Family Studies / Human Ecology Education, I explored how rural community cookbooks reflect changes in food consumption. The cookbook I have based my study on is Windermere Cookery (c. 1954-56), a community cookbook by the Windermere Ladies Hospital Aid, in the rural community of Windermere, BC. For my analysis, I have drawn from Ransom and Wright’s 2013 study of rural community cookbooks in the Upper Peninsula region of Michigan, a Midwest / Great Lakes American state. The authors studied twelve cookbooks published between 1893 and 1956 to determine how they “embraced the changing food landscape” (p. 669).
After defining community cookbooks, I look at the context for my chosen cookbook, and then use criteria from the Ransom and Wright study to point out ways in which Windermere Cookery represents defining features of the Windermere Valley. I conclude with suggestions about the implications of future and further cookbook research.
The Windermere Cookery emphasized local foods such as game; it was utilitarian and practical. While the main contributors were women, several men contributed their recipes as well.
The full paper may be viewed on the BC Food History site at: https://bcfoodhistory.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/deZwartWindermere-cookery2019.pdf