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The Cosmopolitan Cookbook: Class, Taste, and Foreign Foods in Victorian Cookery Books

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Abstract:

Victorian cookbook authors employed a variety of strategies to sell foreign foods and foreign recipes to their middle class English readers. Some authors added exotic ingredients to familiar recipes in order to increase the variety and healthfulness of their readers' diet, while others relied on supposedly authentic foreign recipes that readers could use as a means to social distinction. Two conflicting forces shaped reactions to foreign cuisine. Victorian cookbook readers might wish to experience travel vicariously or to relive travel through the taste and smell of foods from distant lands that they perceived as authentic. The opposing cultural response was the desire to domesticate or master the world by adopting new ingredients into more traditional foodways, or transforming foreign cuisine by incorporating familiar ingredients into exotic recipes. Although both responses can be found throughout the century, the use of foreign cuisine as a means of social distinction increased in the 1890s.

Keywords: ANGLO-INDIAN FOOD; COOKBOOKS; ENGLISH FOOD; FOOD HISTORY; SOCIAL DISTINCTION; VICTORIAN HISTORY

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175174412X13276629245966

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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