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Food and the seventeenth century novel

I’m very tempted to cook as part of my research for the seventeenth century novel. It’s going to take me at least six months (possibly a year) to finish the book side of the research. If life intervenes, it may take longer, for I have 1000 books on my to-read list for this one (800+ primary sources, not including the ones I’ve already read). There was such a burgeoning in the printing industry by 1682 that this was inevitable. I’m glorying in the richness but, until the Aurealis reading is done and my current big project is out of the way, I’m limiting myself to a few books a week.

But there are cookbooks… There are not many printed cookbooks, but this was the heyday of the handwritten household collection and quite a few of them are available on the web. My thinking is that I can start with printed ones and then weasel into a few private households via the handwritten ones.

I really shouldn’t. I really should step back and say “Behave. Do not cook all these dishes.” For the seventeenth century had one of the unhealthiest cuisines that England ever had. Tasty, but all meat and fat and starch and nutmeg.

I’m undecided. If anyone were interested in sharing a cooking experience for a year where, between us, we tested and commented on recipes, maybe that would be a fun way of doing it. Or I could cook just a few things as I felt like it, since I know the cuisine basics already – what I’d be doing is establishing palates and repertoires for my characters. I could write a cookbook to go along with this novel, if I wanted. Or I could be sensible and focus.

Choices, choices.

I’m open to suggestions. I may or may not take the suggestions seriously, depending.

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