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Cooking with Books: A Buffet of Old & Rare Culinary Texts

  • Pacific Food & Beverage Museum 731 South Pacific Avenue San Pedro, CA, 90731 United States (map)
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Beyond teaching us how to produce an impressive coq au vin or how to pair the right wine with the right oyster, culinary books and manuscripts provide insight into the economic, political, and educational factors that have shaped communities over time. By considering a series of antique European and American cookbooks, Miranda Garno Nesler, PhD, reveals the reasons private collectors and institutions are increasingly gravitating toward the acquisition of rare culinary texts.


In her infamous tome Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child provided a key piece of advice on how to become a chef: "First you master the science, later the art." Child is right that cookery in practice is a science and an art; in their books, great chefs educate readers about the chemistry and need for accuracy in creating a dish, and they encourage readers to put their own twist on a recipe once they've mastered the basics. Yet cookery also provides important lessons in anthropology and history. 




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Miranda Garno Nesler earned her doctorate in literature and gender studies from Vanderbilt University. As a specialist in material culture and archives, she is committed to helping the public explore how rare books educate us about women's pursuit of legal and social equality. As an associate at Whitmore Rare Books, she oversees the development of inventory in women's history, works with experienced and emerging collectors to locate books of interest, and collaborates with institutional curators on research-rich acquisitions that support the work of scholars and students.

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Earlier Event: August 1
Museum Month in New Orleans