Historical cookbooks are mainly to pass on certain traditions of food preparation. It is also ought to preserve the heritage brought about by cultural evolution which happened in local kitchens. These kinds of cookbooks tell a story. It teaches the passionate cook about how such food came about- the story behind the ingredients, the reason for its conception etc. These kinds of books are very exact. If it is Italian cooking then expect the prominence of cheeses, tomatoes and other herbs. For French, the prominence of wine and butter are expected. And for most Asian dishes, chilli spices and noodles are to be look forward to.
Artistic cookbooks bring about new ways of preparing traditional foods so it can be appreciated by more people, or specific types of people. An example is a vegetarian cookbook or a cookbook which targets diabetics. These are the "usual" dishes but meat is sometimes changed to vegetables or tofu, and carbohydrates are often changed to whole wheat and whole grains.
Cookbooks are definitely helpful in understanding the way of life of different societies. These books tell a story of survival, celebration, scarcity or bounty or certain places, regions, era, or century. It can also be observed that the diet of different societies sometimes depend on their faith, beliefs, demography or most often than not, climate. It is of course, expected for people who live near the sea to have lots of sea foods in their diets.
Food as Nostalgia
Some women in the study conducted by Jean Duruz (1999), considered their successful food making practice as derived from natural ability. Most confess early interests in cooking, as they watch their mothers prepare the favorite foods of the family. However, through their narration of experiences, they illustrated how they learned to cook through a layering of knowledge from different influences.
The women learned to cook from mothers, mothers-in-law, grandmothers, sisters, servants, aunts, female friends and neighbours, and occasionally fathers, fathers-in-law and husbands. They augmented this knowledge with domestic-science classes in high school and adult-education classes at technical college. Some were self-taught, both before and after marriage, through trial and error and reading cookbooks.
According to Jean Duruz (1999), food brings about so much nostalgia in the Australian Society. Duruz describes for cookbooks which evoke 1950s nostalgia in Australia, a nostalgia for times perceived as conflict-free, pre-political, and child-like: "the fifties as a childhood for the nineties."
Duruz' nostalgia is comprised of memories, such as the idealized 1950s nuclear family, which never in fact existed. According to Duruz(1999), he recipes and reminiscences are meant to evoke a lost Eden, a time before the fall, with the stress not only on the extended family, but the harmonious community.
It is interesting to note that Duruz did not learn to cook as a child, as she recalls that household helpers did most of the cooking in