What is The Historical Food Fortnightly?
The Historical Food Fortnightly takes its inspiration from the Historical Sew Fortnightly, the brainchild of Leimomi at The Dreamstress (who has graciously given us her blessing for this spin-off). It is a challenge series for those interested in historical foodways, or the study of how food, culture, and traditions have intersected throughout human history.
This isn’t your average cooking challenge! Anyone can make “old timey” food based on a notion of what was eaten throughout history. In this challenge, we’re asking you to make things as close as possible to how they are made in the past. We’re asking you to research and document each recipe with primary sources - that is, sources that come from the actual time-period you are interpreting - while utilizing secondary sources as a backup to primary sources. Secondary sources are alright as a reference, but should be backed up with primary sources. We’re turning our own notions of cooking on their heads to discover how food was cooked and what sort of sensory experience (sight, taste, sound, smell, touch) our ancestors had in consuming it.
Why do something so crazy? By cooking things as they cooked them, with the ingredients they used, and consuming food as close as possible to what they consumed, we can better understand the past. It’s a bit of experiential archaeology to view history through the medium of food. It’s also a really delicious time travel experience! And best of all, we’ll be doing it together and learning from each others’ experiences.
How Does It Work?
Every fortnight from June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015 we will feature a themed challenge. Your mission is to take each challenge and cook, bake, or otherwise prepare a food item or dish from a historic recipe the way it was meant to be prepared and consumed.
Your creations can be as elaborate or simple as you like, and can definitely be chosen to suit your skills and interests. You can choose to participate in as many challenges as you like - you can pick and choose the challenges that interest you, and you can choose the ones that work in your schedule. The most popular ways to participate are to do a marathon (completing all the challenges, for the craziest/most masochistic among us) or a half-marathon (doing every other challenge). How you participate is up to you and your comfort level, though we hope that everyone will choose to step outside the box and stretch themselves.
The emphasis here is on research and documentation, and the goal is to learn more about historic cooking through experience and trial. We believe that a better understanding of the past comes from doing things with an eye towards authenticity and accuracy, and from good, solid research about how things were done and why. We encourage everyone to research each recipe and to document their research so that we all can learn from each other.
Our definition of “historic” is anything before 1960, so your recipes should be documented to a date before then. Other than that, it is wide open to anything for which you can find documentation. You also need not limit yourself to one era - feel free to hop around as much as you like.
There are three steps for joining us on this adventure.
- Follow our blog! We’ll be posting the challenges, writing about our own creations, plus highlighting the adventures of other participants.
- Post your name, and a link to your blog in the form on the Challengers page. We’ll include you in the list of participants so others can follow your adventures through the challenges! Whenever you blog about your challenges, we’ll see it!
- Join the Facebook group - this isn’t strictly necessary, but it can be a fun way to get connected with other participants, post your challenges, and see what everyone is concocting!
You can also add the following image on your blog as a badge, to let people know that you're participating. Save the image to your computer, and upload it directly to your blog.
On January 1st, start cooking! Each challenge lasts for two weeks, and they are listed here. When you have completed a project, post the following note:
The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible)
The Date/Year and Region:
How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation)
Time to Complete:
How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?)
How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here)