As one of my primary sources, I will use Approved Receipts, a 1795 manuscript cookbook currently attributed to an unknown author. I chose this work because of what it is—an unpublished collection of household recipes, which opens up a world of discussions.
At first, this manuscript collection may appear no more significant than any other 18th century cookbook. Similar recipes can be found in this as can be found in many others; it is only important to me because I found it, and held it, and loved it. It may not, in fact, have anything significant to tell us about life in Oxfordshire during the late 18th century, or about women’s authorship. It may just be another cookbook among the many. But—it does have a unique position among cookbooks because it is a manuscript. It was composed intended for household use, rather than publication. This allows it to perform as a pivotal piece used in comparison with other cookbooks composed for publication, and also in comparison with what we know common people were preparing and consuming during the same time period. It bridges the important gap between lower class behavior and prescriptive literature, by offering a comment on what fairly well-off families were accomplishing and aspiring to in the privacy of their homes.
Used in conjunction with other manuscript cookbooks, this cookbook will help to establish a balanced definition of what was practiced, and what was aspired to by individuals of means. Hence, it is an excellent representation of many of the works I will be consulting in my research.