As a writer of a food blog for Beamish Museum, you won’t be surprised to hear that I love books. Especially those of a food-related nature, and if the book can include some foodie history, that’s even better!
Luckily for me as a book lover, there are books everywhere you turn at Beamish. Whether it’s on a parlour shelf in Ravensworth Terrace, or the well thumbed copy of Mrs Beeton or Eliza Acton in Joseph Herron’s Bakery, I cannot resist wanting to read them all. It is these books, with their handwritten notes scribbled in the margin, that really teach us about the past – what people were really cooking and eating.
As I have mentioned before I love any excuse to rummage around in our amazing stores, especially when I can rifle through the cookery books that have been donated to us. Just to give you an idea of the size of this section, I have taken a few snaps to show you – the photos do not do it justice (especially with my photography)! For me, spending a day in here is perfection, even if some of the recipes no longer sound as appetising to our 21st century tastes!
What is especially lovely about these old recipe books is the really vague instructions and ingredient amounts, so for our modern minds it can be pretty difficult to work out what is going on! When comparing to the cookbooks we use today, they can seem indecipherable, so when you manage to get something delicious out of them, it is especially rewarding.
Thank goodness recipes started to get written down rather than just being passed through the generations by word of mouth! So many of these recipes would be lost forever if they had not been immortalised in print, which is why we must continue to cherish these lovely snapshots of the past.
So in honour of National Book Lovers’ Day, make yourself a brew and curl up with your favourite book (mine would be a recipe book, obviously…) I can’t think of a better way to spend an hour or three!