A Selected History of Cookbooks

By Rosalinda Hernandez Linares

One of my recent summer reads was L.A. son : my life, my city, my food, a cookbook and memoir written by well-known chef Roy Choi. A fascinating read about street culture and growing up in the diverse landscape of Los Angeles, the recipes in the book were phenomenal. I became curious about the history of cookbooks, so I did a little digging.

Apitii Svm

Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/1r3IXZY

The earliest Western book of recipes was compiled somewhere around the 4th or 5th century, C.E. Although the writer is unknown, the ten book work is attributed to Marcus Gavius Apicius, a notorious foodie in 1st century C.E. Rome, as noted by the first English translator, Joseph Dommers Vehling. The text is often referred to as De Re Coquinaria, or On the subject of Cooking. Each of the ten books are arranged much like a modern cookbook, with chapters focused on types of food, such as the garden, birds, and four-legged animals.

A sample recipe, roughly translated:

Beans and chickpeas

  1. Green beans and chickpeas are served with salt, cumin, olive oil, and a bit of unwatered wine
  2. Another way: beans and chickpeas are cooked in a wine sauce and seasoned with pepper, and boiled, in a rich way, with eggs, green fennel, broth, and served with a little reduced wine on a small plate, or more simply, as you are accustomed.

Care to take a look at the Latin text? You can find it in our library at Decem libri cui [i.e. qui] dicuntur de re coquinaria et excerpta a Vinidario conscripta

Moving through the centuries to 16th century England, cookbooks really hit their stride amongst the nobles, who tried to outdo each other with not only recipes, but descriptions of outlandish feasts given in their households. The average palate ‘evidently liked their dishes strongly seasoned and piquant’, as noted by 19th century cookbook publisher Thomas Austin.


A sample recipe from A book of cookry, by A.W., 1587, taken from the original text

How to bake watered Herrings.

Let your herrings be wel watered, and season them with Pepper and a little Cloves and Spice, and put but a …minced Onions, great Raisins and …, a little sweet butter, and a little Sugar and so bake them.

Find more recipes in the database Early English Books Online under the subject search term ‘cookery’.


A translated recipe from Dos manuscritos mexicanos de cocina , siglo XVIII , by Anonymous, 2002

Across the pond to the Americas, two intact anonymous manuscripts outline Colonial Mexican cooking in the 18th century, including many recipes, but as with the others no measurements or little indications of proportion sizes. In his introduction to a recent edition, Enrique Asensio Ortega, Mexican historical food writer, notes that this common method of recipe writing is more indicative of recipes as an historical ledger, whereas the deftly-handed cooks of the time would know how to season and how long to cook the meal.

Dark Chicken

While cooking chicken or ham, put in chorizo, yerba buena, onions, salt, lard, vinegar, chilies, olives, capers, and thicken with a little piece of toasted bread, together with oil and vinegar.

Spanish readers can find the book at Dos manuscritos mexicanos de cocina : siglo XVIII.

And now back to Kentucky, and its culinary predecessors. In her latest book, Fiona Young-Brown traces local recipes all the way back to their German, Irish, Scottish, and Cherokee (to name a few) roots. Check out all the classics in A culinary history of Kentucky: burgoo, beer cheese, and goetta.

Culinary History of Kentucky

Culinary History of Kentucky

Find more cookbooks up on the 4th floor in the TX 350-750 call number range. Enjoy, and happy eating!

*All translations by the author of the post

Join the Libraries Student Advisory Board!

Have you heard about the Libraries Student Advisory Board (LSAB).  No?  Well here’s an opportunity to get engaged and shape your library.

About us
The board was started in 2011 to help the libraries learn more about our users and our community and meet their evolving needs.  It also allows the libraries to explore effective and creative responses to our users’ learning and research behaviors. 

What’s involved?
We usually meet 4-6 times per academic year, with each meeting lasting around an hour.  We also expect each member to commit to attend at least 2 meetings per year, attend at least one library event, and utilize one library service that they wouldn’t ordinarily use.  

Libraries Student Advisory Board


What do you talk about?
Most recently we’ve been focusing on 1st floor space issues and needs.  But in the past we’ve addressed things like increasing hours, availability of electrical outlets, and quiet study space.

How can I join?
Want to join the conversation? Drop us a line! We’d love to hear from you. All currently enrolled students (that includes you, too, graduate students) are invited to become a member.

Where Did the Ekstrom Reference Collection Go?


Cover picture of the book Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology

You may have noticed that the 30,000 volume printed reference collection in the Ekstrom Library has been rapidly shrinking over the course of the last year. We recently completed a massive review and inventory of this collection because use of the collection has changed substantially in recent years. Due to the ubiquity of search engines and the ease of access to brief, factual data, the need for quick look-up is now rare. There is still a need for authoritative overviews on topics, however, and that was one of our considerations as we chose which titles to keep on the 1st floor.


The review involved physically removing the books from the shelf and matching them against the list of items pulled from the catalog that had the location of Ekstrom Reference. In the process, we were able to identify items that had been lost, items we thought were lost but were present, items that were miscataloged or not cataloged at all. Along with baby name books and search manuals for defunct databases, our most amusing find was a laminated picture of a pin-up girl that someone had carefully kept hidden in the International Bibliography of Research in Marriage and the Family.


Most of the books were moved either to the regular stacks on the 3rd or 4th floor or to the Robotic Retrieval System (RRS). These books can now be checked out. A small percentage of the books which have an online equivalent will be weeded from the Library’s collection all together.


Cover picture of the book Gallaudet Dictionary of American Sign Language

We will be maintaining approximately 15% of the total collection as a print reference collection. Items staying in the reference collection were selected due to their general nature, high quality, and currency. Over time, we anticipate the collection becoming smaller yet, as many titles move to online-only equivalents.

Sometime this summer, we will be shifting the remaining books to be closer together to form the compact and hopefully easily browsable reference collection.

If you have a favorite reference book that you can’t find, please let us know and we’ll be happy to help you locate it in its new home.


Who Uses All This stuff?

by Kathie Johnson, Curator of History Collections for Kornhauser Health Sciences Library

You might ask what kind of people are interested in all of this old stuff that I care for and preserve, besides me, of course, – books, journal, manuscripts, and even artifacts. You might find surprising the wide variety of interests and research topics held by our researchers.

  • Here at Kornhauser Health Sciences Library, our number one clients (in pure volume only) are genealogists tracing their family lineage and suddenly find that an ancestor attended medical school in Kentucky. Since UofL School of Medicine has been in existence since 1837 and at one time there were seven medical schools in Louisville, four of which were absorbed by UofL in 1908, we have thousands of alumni.
  • The Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, and Public Health, the Alumni and Development Offices, and the Deans of the four schools on HSC campus often have questions about individual past students, faculty, and/or the curriculum.
  • Most departments or offices on this campus will at one point or another develop an interest in their own history, especially if they are approaching an anniversary year. At that point, the individual assigned with putting together a department, unit, or school’s history usually contacts me in a panic, ending in relief that we have files that can be of help.
  • Scholars, usually writing an article or a book
  • Students, usually writing a paper or working on a project which they believe will be enhanced by doing research in the History Collections.

I get a lot of inquiries about our alumnae and I use all the tools that I have on hand to assist the researcher. Most of these researchers live too far away to travel here for this purpose. As I look up the information (if we have it) I always learn something about Louisville, UofL, medical education, and medical practice.

Offices such as the Deans of the four schools and Alumni and Development can be in need of a photograph, a date, or a specific piece of paper, and when someone calls, I hope I can find exactly what they need. Many of those in leadership at schools, units, offices do not think about history other than memorizing dates and names and show no real interest. That changes when approaching an anniversary year for that school, unit or office. That is when these individuals become researchers, looking for photos, artifacts, publications to tell their story, whether it be in an article or a book; a stage production, or a small exhibit in their building. And this is when they really appreciate the work that we archivists do for the university and the community.

Scholars and students working on a paper, an article or a book are the people one would expect to find here doing research, and we do have those as well. Most note-worthy was a researcher from England who spent every work day for two full weeks going through one very large collection, looking for how one physician integrated research findings with clinical application. Another was a couple working on a book about black physicians in World War I. Just a few weeks ago a physician doing a presentation on his father who attended medical school here and went on to a career of some importance contacted me for contextual information such as curriculum, number of students in the class, etc. Students as young as middle school have also called or come in when they are working on a paper or project.

We have material that can enhance research from the very basic to the most advanced scholarly work, and I welcome researchers of every age and level of expertise. This form of “teaching” is very rewarding and sharing my love of history and historical exploration with others is its own reward.

Readers and Writers Unite at the Kentucky Women’s Book Festival

KWBFlogoThe Kentucky Women’s Book Festival endeavors to foster a deeper interest in Kentucky women writers and encourage beginninGirl-in-Blue-Beretg writers to continue their work and strive to grow with each new venture.  Kentucky writers include those born in Kentucky but now living elsewhere, if they wish to be identified as Kentuckians, as well as those who, although not born here have made Kentucky home.

The Kentucky Women’s Book Festival is held on the 3rd Saturday of May. This year it marks the 8th annual festival and will be on May 17, 2014 in the Ekstrom Library, University of Louisville. The event is free and open to all. If you would like to purchase a lunch, please call the Women’s Center  by May 13 (502) 852-8976 by May 13. (The lunch is $16 and catered by Masterson’s. Those who do not wish to purchase a lunch may still come to the reading.)

Doors open at 9:00 with refreshments and discussion, then the speakers begin in the Elaine Chao Auditorium at 9:30 with George Ella Lyon who will  discuss and read from her new book of poetry: Many-Storied House, followed by Bobbie Ann Mason who will read from her latest novel: The Girl in the Blue Beret. There are three consecutive morning sessions: Sonja de Vries, a poet; Alison Atlee, an author; and Jannene Winstead & Leborah the-fountain-of-st-james-courtGoodwin who have cnext-time-you-see-meompiled a cookbook with a bit of Louisville history: Recipes and recollections: from the houses Samuel M. Plato Built. Holly Goddard Jones will do a lunchtime reading from her novel The Next Time You See Me. After lunch is a presentation by Sena Jeter Naslund entitled “Knowing the Self Through Knowing the Other,” which will feature the research for her latest novel The Fountain of St. James Court; or Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman, then two more consecutive sessions: Mariam Williams will discuss “Black Arts Movement Pride, Walker’s Womanism and Hillbilly Sisterhood: the African American Women’s Literary Series in the 1990s” and Playwrights Nancy Gall-Clayton & Kathi E. B. Wlllis will present “When Characters Speak.”

Book purchase and signing will be available throughout the day. For more information, see the KWBF website or read about it in the Women’s Center’s spring 2014 newsletter. The festival ends at 3:30.

An Introduction to DiRT: Digital Research Tools

As a reference and instruction librarian, I generally provide assistance on where and how to search for information. After that, there’s certainly a lot left to do: organize information, analyze information, format information in a paper…the list goes on. Luckily, numerous technologies exist to help undergraduates, graduates, and faculty with these facets of research; however, it is hard to know everything that is available.

This is where DiRT can help.

DiRT, or Digital Research Tools, is a wiki created and maintained by several institutions of higher education. This resource is a collaborative effort amongst individuals who want to share new technologies that have helped them in some aspect of the research process by aggregating the resources in one location.

screenshot for blog1

The DiRT wiki is organized into areas like write a paper or analyze texts where digital research tools might help. As you can see, there are numerous areas where DiRT can provide you with a useful research tool. At the Reference and Information Literacy Department of Ekstrom Library, we frequently help with managing bibliographic information. For example, several librarians in our department teach classes on how to use EndNote.

DiRT’s manage bibliographic information link contains a list of resources to help you do just that. Each list of resources features limiters, much like those found in a library database. You can limit by operating system, cost, and resources that are most commented on and utilized. While some software listed costs money, many resources compiled on DiRT are open source. Ultimately, this tool gives you options. For example, if you’re not keen on EndNote (a bibliographic management tool that is free to UofL students and faculty through iTech Xpress), you can always use Zotero, an open source bibliographic management tool.

Here’s how wiki editors present a resource:

screenshot for blog2











Since ‘wiki’ is synonymous with collaboration, YOU can contribute. Share any tools not already on DiRT that have helped you with your research, or review resources like you would for a product on Amazon or a restaurant on Yelp. A new feature allows you to suggest digital research tools for creation.

Visit DiRT at http://dirt.projectbamboo.org/ and see what kinds of digital research tools can work for you.

Minerva, the Traditional Library Catalog to be Sunsetted

On May 1, 2014, the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), fondly known as Minerva will no longer be available via links on most University Library web pages. This piece of software has served us well for 15 years, but the time has come to retire her. You may have already noticed the change to our new default search of the WorldCat Local (WCL) database on the University Libraries webpage and also on the Ekstrom, Kornhauser, Music, and Art Library webpages. WorldCat Local will be used as our publicly accessible catalog, although we will continue to use the Voyager system behind the scenes to process and circulate materials. The Archives and Special Collections will continue to use the Minerva interface due to the specialized materials that they have.

When you say “no longer be available via links”, what exactly do you mean?

We won’t link to minerva.louisville.edu from our webpages, but if you type in that URL, it will continue to work for the foreseeable future. It will not be customized, and more importantly, the records will not be corrected or maintained and thus will not be as accurate as the ones in WorldCat Local. Some pieces of the system will, however, continue to be used such as “My Account” where you can log in to renew your materials and the piece used to request an item from the Robotic Retrieval and Storage (RRS) system.

Why is the library catalog changing from Minerva to WorldCat Local?

WorldCat Local searches for books, e-books, articles, videos, and other items from UofL Libraries and many other libraries, all in a single search. In addition to library holdings it includes over 70 million citations to articles from JSTOR, ERIC (education), ScienceDirect, ArticleFirst, GPO (U.S. government publications), and more databases. With its intuitive interface researchers can then narrow results by location, format and full-text availability. Minerva, on the other hand, only contains what UofL owns and cannot search articles at all which has been a source of confusion to students and other researchers.

Book records in WorldCat Local include an image of the book as well as the standard information that Minerva provided: call number, availability, subject headings, citation and description. WorldCat Local will also indicate libraries nearby that have the item if we don’t have it here at UofL. Articles can be limited to peer-reviewed and/or full-text availability. Overall, the contents and functionality of the WorldCat Local tool far exceed the Minerva catalog.

Why now?

It comes down to time and money. Reductions in budget and staff have made us look for ways to provide the same level of service with fewer hours of staff time. For the last several years our staff has been doing double duty updating both versions of the catalog. This has meant many staff hours creating and updating records in the two systems and managing changes to the Minerva interface. Officially going with WorldCat Local as our library catalog will eliminate the duplication of effort and help provide our patrons with a single interface for finding the up-to-date information they need.

Why didn’t we do this sooner?

We introduced WorldCat Local on a pilot basis a few years ago. We wanted to make sure that it would meet the needs of our researchers as well as fulfill the University Libraries’ needs for a catalog. While WorldCat Local has improved its functionality consistently, the software that runs Minerva is no longer being upgraded or developed. Another inhibiting factor has been that we have materials that are available through Minerva, such as University records, manuscripts, and some other archival materials, that have been problematic to access through WorldCat Local. The benefits of moving to WorldCat Local, however, far outweigh these difficulties.


Obviously, as with any change of this magnitude, there will be bumps along the way. Nothing is perfect, and there are still a number of issues to be resolved. WorldCat Local has interoperability with some library systems and processes. If you have questions about this changeover or what it will mean for your research, please contact the library at UofL that you use the most often.

If you’d like to familiarize yourself more with the WorldCat Local catalog, please visit our help page: http://louisville.libguides.com/help for more information.


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