Episode 68: Recipes

Friday, April 6th, 2018

For this episode let us join the Thomas Edison of historical sparks, Professor James Daybell, and the king of content, Dr Sam Willis, as they stir the historical cooking pot to bring you the unexpected history of recipes. James and Sam mix the ingredients together and add a sprinkling of historical know how to take you on a journey from Richard II’s own commissioned recipe book Forme of Cury published in 1390 to the different types of regional French cassoulet, from the rotten worms and eggs of an Elizabethan stink bait recipe to the ‘Art of cooking Spaniards’, written by Nelson after the Battle of St Vincent 1797, and from the recipes handed down through the Fortescue family from the 1680s to the missing recipes of Greek Fire from 1000BC and ancient Roman Garum sauce.

This is no recipe for disaster as James and Sam whip up the facts and discover that this unexpected history is actually all about: nationhood and economies, reflection and transmission, medicine and knowledge, family and households, accumulation and secrets, and … experimenting in the bath tub!

Listen out as Sam plays guess the recipe and James reveals that he has a passion for cookery books.


‘History is not, of course, a cookbook offering protested recipes’ (Henry A. Kissinger)

‘A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal’ (Pat Conroy)

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