Constructing culinary knowledge: Reading rural community cookbooks

Elizabeth Ransom, Wynne Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The late nineteenth and early twentieth century was a period rife with social change for both the domains of food production and consumption, with significant consequences for how we know food today. Yet the ways in which culinary knowledge became standardized beyond cooking schools and commercial cookbooks remains largely undisclosed, particularly in rural households. Much of the existing cookbook literature relies on cookbooks that originate from urban locations. To explore how knowledge about food at the household and community level changed during this time, this article examines rural community cookbooks published in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan between 1893 and 1956. The findings suggest that contributors embraced the changing food landscape, as reflected in their enthusiastic adoption of processed products, but their culinary knowledge may have differed from that of their urban counterparts due to a lack of access to markets or affordable ingredients combined with continued reliance on local food environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-689
Number of pages21
JournalFood, Culture and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies


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