Monday, 28 August 2017

Cooking the Books

400 years of food and drink.

‘Lifting the Lid’, a new touring display from the National Library of Scotland, opened on June 5th 2017 at the Sir Duncan Rice Library in Old Aberdeen (pictured below). This free display runs until August 20th and tells the story of food and drink in Scotland.

Discover how the introduction of new ingredients and methods of cooking have changed and developed our tastes over the years. Scotland has a diverse natural larder with plentiful supplies of fish, game, cereals and fruit. This display celebrates Scotland’s changing relationship with food and drink and explores the myths and traditions associated with its people's diet.
Subjects include "Desserts & Baking", "Fish & Shellfish", "Oatmeal & Bread", "Soups & Broths", "Jams & Preserves", "Quaking pudding", "Cakes shaped and decorated to look like a piece of fruit, and "Entremets pie". There's an activity cart and games to have a go at, and a film reel featuring a menu of foodie films from the Scottish Screen Archive.

Accompanying 'Lifting the Lid' is 'Cooking the Books', a University of Aberdeen exhibition showcasing a selection of cookery books and food-related pamphlets from the Special Collections.
Modern recipe books regularly top the non-fiction bestseller lists. Their authors, the celebrity chefs, are household names.

This exhibition showcases a selection of cookery books and food-related pamphlets from the University of Aberdeen's Special Collections. They date mainly from the 1800s, when a fashion and a passion for food was fed by the dramatic increase in book publishing. The names of the cooks may not be familiar, but their books sold like hot cakes.

On a summer menu are starters of acorn bread and viper broth, and main courses of ragooed larks and venison pasty. There are showstoppers by Joseph Bell, Royal Confectioner, and the truth behind the blackbirds baked into a pie.

Some curious items include the designs for a pressure cooker from 1681; the first printed recipe for the potato crisp; and a miniature cookbook containing over 800 pages of pies, jellies and puddings. 

There are cautionary tales too, not just if you're a lark or a blackbird. The sad demise of the lady who ate poisonous pickles is recounted by Fredrick Accum, and Launcelot Sturgeon considers the consequences of an irresistible sauce.

'Cooking the Books' invites visitors to try more of the Rowett Institute’s nutritional reinventions of classic Scottish dishes such as Clootie dumpling, Rumbledethumps and Cullen Skink. The exhibition pays homage to Aberdeen’s signature bake, the rowie, our buttery.
'Threat to Aberdeen’s morning delicacy' ran a headline in the local press on 27th August 1917. Rowie post on Lena's blog.

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