Abstract

This article examines the epistemology of cookery among the middle classes in nineteenth-century Britain. Quantification, schematization, and the scientific evaluation of food and its preparation were increasingly emphasized in prescriptive cookery books and housekeeping literature. These trends are evident to some extent in manuscript cookbooks, as well. Cookery was influenced by a rise in chemists' and physicians' professional authority, and science also suggested solutions to the period's ongoing problems of food adulteration. Science and expertise, moreover, offered women and their families access to higher social status and a sense of personal and national progress. However, the scientization of cookery was an uneven and often inconsistent process, and the individual habits and knowledge systems of families, mistresses, and servants continued to play a crucial role in culinary practice.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 936-959
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-25
Open Access
No
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