English domestic recipe manuscripts make clear that early modern households required a great deal of water, and these texts offer surprising glimpses into the significance placed on the sources of that water. Recipe manuscripts allow us not only to see how households used water, but also how—and why—compilers envisioned it as a key ingredient. The qualities of different waters mattered, and references to specific types of water help us determine not just where a recipe originates, but the varying environments a compiler inhabited at different points in her life. These manuscripts underscore the changes that movement from one household to another brought for early modern women, as well as the influence that natural and commercial spaces surrounding a compiler's home exercised over the medical recipes in her collection. This sensitivity to physical mobility is felt in recipe compilations even as they reflect traces of the Hippocratic notion that an individual's place of birth determines where he or she can experience optimal health. Using the College of Physicians of Philadelphia manuscript 10a214 as a case study, this essay shows how water in recipe manuscripts reveals the function of both physical location and social network in early modern domestic practice.


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pp. 59-82
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