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A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page Over Seven Centuries

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by Henry Notaker
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Now available in paperback for the first time since its original publication in 2017, A History of Cookbooks examines works from Europe and Western civilization.

Henry Notaker, a Norwegian literary historian, credits his pursuit of the subject matter to conversations with the late Alan Davidson and Rudolf Grewe, who encouraged an approach similar to the techniques used to examine traditional literature.

As a result, Notaker's work is not a chronology—although a chronology is easily discerned—but an examination of elements such as the effect of printing on the diffusion of cookbooks and the development of the idea of plagiarism of recipes. Other chapters address subjects that include how cookbooks are organized, how recipes are named, the form of recipes, and different audiences for whom a book might be written, whether rich or poor, vegetarian, or distinctly nationalist.

Notaker displays familiarity with an impressively wide range of books from across Europe, and he writes with clarity, choosing clear examples to illustrate his insights. Happily for anyone inspired to further research, A History of Cookbooks contains footnotes and an extensive bibliography.

Paperback. Line drawings and black-and-white photographs.

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