- The Recipes of Jonathan Odell and 18th-Century Settler Colonialism in the Maritimes
RECIPES PROVIDE ONE LENS THROUGH WHICH TO EXAMINE the history of settler colonialism. In the 18th-century Maritimes, for example, settlers wrote, collected, and circulated instructions for making medicines, food and drink, and agricultural and household products (such as fertilizers, cleaners, and paints).1 From print and manuscript sources, largely in English with a few in Latin, German, and French, the 18th-century settler recipes that survive in archives in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia are mostly the work of Loyalist men writing in the later decades of the century. This research note will focus on the recipes of Jonathan Odell, whose papers contain several recipes in his hand – specifically six recipes recorded in an 18thcentury commonplace book where five medical recipes and one for ink have been copied alongside verse fragments, epigrams, and poems and a recipe for "Indian Chocolate" Odell sent by letter in 1816 to Ward Chipman, the solicitor general of New Brunswick.2 While scholars have written about Jonathan Odell's Loyalist poetry – work that situates his verse within the context of the American Revolution – looking at his recipes requires the framing of his writing not only by political debates among White men but also by the deeply political relationships in an 18th-century colonial context between settlers and Indigenous peoples in what we now call eastern North America.3 Recipe [End Page 119] scholarship has illustrated the importance of networks of knowledge exchange to recipe culture, including colonial ones.4
Jonathan Odell was born in in 1737 in New Jersey and graduated in 1754 from the College of New Jersey, an institution that would later be renamed Princeton but had been founded by his maternal grandfather just a few years before he attended.5 He completed a master's degree in 1757 and then joined the British military.6 After serving for six years, he sought a license from the Bishop of London to be an Anglican missionary in New Jersey. Odell was also interested in science and in 1768 was elected to the American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin (whose son had supported Odell's ministry in Burlington). In 1774 he became a member of the newly formed New Jersey Medical Society. From the 1760s onward, Odell was also writing and publishing poetry – work that would establish him as an antagonist to the American Revolution. He moved to New Brunswick in 1784, where he would become provincial secretary, a major landowner, and an original member of the board of trustees of the College of New Brunswick (later the University of New Brunswick).7 He died in 1818 in Fredericton.
Odell's recipes can be used to draw attention to the settler colonial context he inhabited. Early modern recipes were used across a range of social contexts, from courts to scientific and medical societies to households, and their [End Page 120] rhetorical practices, which often include notes on origins, generally highlight how writing and knowledge creation exist within relationships. Elaine Leong, for example, in Recipes and Everyday Knowledge, explores how early modern recipe books were not only collections of household knowledge but "maps of a family's social network," as geographic and kinship proximity framed their collecting practices; at the same time, though, recipe collectors could also venture outside of their networks to seek the opinions of experts.8 The knowledge networks visible in Maritime recipes generally are cosmopolitan, extending mostly to the south and to the east. Recipes appearing in Maritime print publications are commonly reprinted from American newspapers, with sources that stretch down the Atlantic seaboard from New England to Virginia and South Carolina. Other sources come from further south in the Caribbean as well as from the east: not only England, Scotland, and Ireland but also other European countries such as France, Sweden, and Italy and even further east to Turkey and India. One of the most distant sources appears in the papers of Dr. William James Almon: a report from a Mr. Fahrig from the Academy of Petersburg who traveled among the "Mogul" [Mongolian] tribes by Lake Baikal (in...