Session 2: The Performing Foods: Cookbooks and Early Celebrity Culture

               Concurrent to the latter half of the undergraduate panel, this session focused on texts written by cooks with the intention of recording and conveying the intricacies of cultural cuisines. Our authors in this section examine the genre of cookbooks as it develops within specific social and cultural contexts, suggesting that the publication of these cookbooks and the recipes included often mirror the experiences of these peoples.

            In “Place Settings: Food and Identity among the Italo-Slovenians of Toronto,” Anne Urbancic explores issues of terroir and identity for Italo-Slovenian immigrants that settled in Canada during the early-to-mid twentieth century. Combining Arjun Appadurai’s concept of “scapes” with her own archival work on the Italo-Slovenian diaspora (including an analysis of two rare cookbooks), Urbancic shows how the Italo-Slovenian diaspora’s struggle for cultural identity came to be internalized in the very foods that they cooked.

            In “Seasonal Cooking and the Ecological Usage of Food: Developments in German Children’s Cookbooks from the Nineteenth Century to the Present,” Sabine Planka traces the development of children’s cookbooks in Germany over the past two centuries to illustrate how innovations in the genre reflect changes in expectations about the kinds of knowledge of food that children attain in the household as opposed to what they must be taught. Beginning with the gender-stratified doll cookbooks and ending with organic cookbooks for children, Planka reveals a circular regression in which children’s cookbooks are now being used to convey information about healthy eating and sustainability that in previous centuries would have been passed down orally from mother to daughter.