(Cook)Book Review: Cooking with Shakespeare

Final Grade: 


“You know Leah, it appears these ‘academic’ cookbooks are not so rigorous as our faithful Canadian Living test kitchen.”

Words from my mother, who is saying them so I don’t have to. The number of times I raised my eyebrows, askance that something was left unclarified -or GASP, forgotten entirely – were too numerous for me to reasonably believe that any of the recipes that we created were tested as rigorously as modern kitchens have come to expect. While I may rejoice in the almost encyclopedic collection of Elizabethan recipes this cookbook provides, it does not make up for sloppy recipe adaptation or composition.

Buttered Beere
A Fine Paste
Warden Pie

Being the inaugural CookBook review, I couldn’t resist adding tidbits of commentary on how I created the rubric for cookbook reviews. (You know how much I like to deliberate…and contemplate… and critique my own standards of quality…and question the very fabric of the universe…) To illustrate my finished format, I will review a familiar book on this site.Read More »


“A compound sallet”

Check out the stratigraphic deposits in this recipe! (Click or refresh to see the animation again.) I treated participants in my recent Conference talk with this compound salad from London, 1615. You can read more about this recipe on the post Baking with the Bard: Where’s my Sparknotes? Look forward to a reflection on the conference […]

Baking with the Bard: Where’s My Sparknotes?

Selected Shakespearean Recipes:
Mynst Pies
A Fine Paste
A Compound Sallat

You  know when you read Shakespeare, and there are those convenient footnotes explaining all the contextual references to contemporary Elizabethan popculture? If you’ve ever tried reading Shakespeare without looking at these handy explanations, you sort of feel like you are only getting half the picture. Lines have very shallow meaning, but you don’t know what it is you don’t know. Shakespearean works, like historical recipes, are best understood when read with a full grasp of the common knowledge of their time, these things that are so common sense, that contemporary writers don’t bother explaining them. They assume their audience knows all about it. Well. Maybe back then they did! Now, much of that ‘common knowledge’ is lost. And unfortunately, there is no handy sparknotes for historical cookbooks!Read More »