Eating History

This website presents a recipe book of sorts, formed through the conversations that occurred as part of the Eating History project. Eating History was a cultural engagement project that entailed taking material from the Home Studies Collection – a collection of over 700 recipe books, household manuals and domestic handbooks held in Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections – to different community groups in Manchester. Handling the material, talking about recipes, ingredients and food, conversations quickly extended to touch upon subjects ranging from cooking for families, learning English, Kurdistani new year celebrations, working in factories, Irish immigration, being welcome or unwelcome in the city, Syrian conflict, dancing, looking after children with scarlet fever and wearing new gloves to church on a Sunday – in short, everything other than food. The archive material was used as a catalyst for conversations in the manner that sitting around a table to eat is a format for sharing, learning and talking with the other guests. The recipes collected together here present the ingredients and dishes that triggered conversations, memories and anecdotes. They are taken from books found in the Home Studies Collectiondating from 1696 to 1933, as well as transcriptions from the personal accounts of project participants. 

Project Participants and Supporters

I would like to thank all those who have participated in the project including the Power Rangers at Moss Side Powerhouse Library, ESL students at St James’ Primary School, Fallowfield, volunteers at the Irish World Heritage Centre, Cheetham Hill, and individuals living in the communities of Moss Side, Fallowfield and Rusholme who attended conversation groups in Alexandra Park, Whalley Range.

The project would not have been possible without the support of Special Collections Manchester Metropolitan University, in particular the time and patience of Louise Clennell, Stephanie Boydell and Jane Pendelbury.

Thanks are also due to Hulme Community Garden Center, Café in the Garden and Tea Hive Alexandra park for giving their time, space and hospitality to project meetings.

Laura Mansfield

Laura Mansfield is a curator and researcher based in Manchester. She has a doctorate in curating from Manchester School of Art. Eating history builds upon her ongoing publication project FEAST