Difficulty with Research

Discussion in 'Open Forum With Leslie Mansfield' started by jim berman, Mar 24, 2003.

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  1. jim berman

    jim berman

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    Leslie,
    Welcome aboard!
    One of the questions that kept recurring when I was reading the book, was how difficult was it to conduct research? I am sure there were many acocunts from the field, like the 'asides' you mentioned throughout the book, but were there many mentions of the food they were consuming?
    Thanks for your time!
    Jim
     
  2. leslie mansfield

    leslie mansfield

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    Dear Jim,

    Thnk you, it is great to be here!

    It was very challenging to research this cookbook because ther was not a lot written about food two centuries ago. Thank goodness for the internet! There are several excellent websites where you can buy old, out of print books and I bought about 200 hundred for my research. I can't tell you how enjoyable it was to spend a winter in front of the fireplace with a pot of tea and my kitty on my lap pouring through old manuscripts.

    I started with the original seven volume set of the Journals of Lewis and Clark which are incredibly rich with food references. The Corps main occupation was hunting and gathering food to sustain them through their incredible journey so they record exactly how many deer, buffalo, elk, bear, wolves, fowl, dogs, horses, and hundreds of other small animal and fish they killed and cooked. They also recorded in great detail the foods they traded for with the many Indian Tribes that helped sustain them throughout their trek. They discussed how dishes were prepared, how they made salt on the Oregon Coast for their return journey, and how the Indians prepared their foods. Each man consumed nine pounds of meat a day when it was available because of their astonishing physical requirments of rowing, walking, and riding across the continent and back. Absolutely fascinating!

    Then I read all of Jefferson's voluminous writings on his passinate curiosity and love of good food and gardening. In these books I would find references to contemporaries and track down anything written by them.

    I also bought old cookbooks and reprints of old cookbooks to develope the recipes accurately. The variety of foods enjoyed back then suprised me and I was delighted with trying quaint recipes such as crepes which was called: "A Quire of Paper Pancakes".

    Each recipe in my book has a quote from one of the writings of Lewis, Clark, Jefferson, or a contemporary regarding an ingrediant in the recipe as well as a headnote describing the recipe.

    Leslie
     
  3. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Welcome Leslie!

    We are very glad to have you with us :)

    I wonder how did you manage to check all the info you gathered threw your research?

    Isn't food History kind of lost in time?

    Did you try to trace, old cooking methods or recipe in contemporary cooking?

    I know that America is a vast country and it's kind of strange to talk about american kitchen but still I am very interesting to know if anything of these survives.

    Thank you :)
     
  4. leslie mansfield

    leslie mansfield

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    Dear Athenaeus,

    You are right in that food history is difficult to research, however there are quite a few cookbooks that have survived and have been reprinted. The first cookbook printed in America is called "American Cookery" by Amelia Simmons in 1796, and is a wonderful read. As with most of these cookbooks the instructions can be a little vague such as, "let the dough rest for about as long as it takes to sweep and dust." But with some effort you can reproduce most of the recipes.

    Dover Publications has reprinted many old cookbooks from 1800's and I think that a cookbook company called 'Jessica's Biscuit' sells them.

    Are there many early cookbooks from Greece? That would be a fascinating subject to research.

    Leslie
     
  5. jim berman

    jim berman

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    Leslie,
    Thank you for the insight. The research aspect of the book was always a question for me while reading the book. You have shed quite a bit of light.
    Thanks, again!
    -Jim
     
  6. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Leslie,

    In addition to Alemia Simmens book Have you used E. Smiths "The complete kitchen" "The frugel housewife" or Briggs "The New art of cookery" in any of your research?

    As always
    Thank you
    Brad
     
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