Daughters of Norway hold a cookbook discussion

Submitted Photo

On Sunday at 1:30 p.m., Nordic ladies are invited to bring their favorite cookbook and become a “cookbook detective” in the South Room of the Minot Library. There will also be exciting news, as the new Daughters of Norway namesake for the Minot Lodge will be revealed at this meeting.

Nordic foods are very important to the heritage, and generally one of the last cultural traditions to disappear . Recording and sharing recipes has always been important, and cookbooks have been a good way to preserve them. In these fast times of social media, we can find out how to bake a kransekake, whip up some rommegrot, or make a hearty lapskaus, all with the quick touch of a button. But there is something very special about the old family cookbook, or even a brand new one.

These cherished books tell more than just how to cook or bake something. They hold the memories of mom or grandmother, with scribbles in the margins such as “add more salt” or “I made this for Betty’s wedding.” But what else can these cookbooks tell us about the era? Is there more you can learn about history, or why it was published?

The earliest known “cookbook” dates back to about 1500 B.C. from Babylon, where a few instructions for an aromatic dish were found written on a clay tablet. Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith by profession, developed a printing system in 1439. Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, improvements were made throughout Europe with printing. In Renaissance Europe, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduce the era of mass communication, which permanently altered the structure of society. As these printing presses evolved, books, as well as cookbooks, were published.

In the 18th centuries, cookbooks were written for aristocratic families, including household manuals such as “The Complete Housewife” by Eliza Smith. Originally published in London in 1727, it was the first cookbook printed in the United States.

“Modern Cookery for Private Families” was published in 1845 and aimed at the domestic reader rather than the professional cook or chef. This was an immensely influential book and it established the format for modern writing about cooking.

In 1896, the American cook Fannie Farmer (1857-1915) published “The Boston Cooking School Cookbook,” which contained around 1,849 recipes. Cookbooks that serve as basic kitchen guides began to appear in the early modern period. They provided not just recipes but overall instructions for both kitchen technique and household management. Such books were written primarily for housewives and occasionally domestic servants as opposed to professional cooks, and at times books such as “The Joy of Cooking” or “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child have served as references for national cuisines.

Cookbooks also tell stories and reflect upon the era in which they are written. They often reveal notions of social, political, environmental, or economic contexts. For example, convenience foods were brought into many households and were integrated into modern cookbooks. There are instructional cookbooks, which combine recipes with in-depth, step-by-step recipes to teach beginning cooks basic concepts and techniques. Many times these tried and true recipes are collected and published into family cookbooks.

Come to the library and bring your favorite cookbook to share in fun discussions. Refreshments will be served.

The Minot Library is located at 516 2nd Ave SW. Potential members interested in attending this event should call Sue at 838-5710 or send an email to norskjill@gmail.com.

Daughters of Norway is a non-profit organization open to women of Norwegian/Nordic heritage. The mission and purpose of the Daughters of Norway is to unite into sisterhood women who wish to preserve the Norwegian heritage, maintain among members a knowledge of the history, culture, and language of Norway, and build a strong support system and bond of friendship among the sisterhood.

Lodges are located throughout Central and Western United States. See the website at daughtersofnorway.org for more information.

COMMENTS