Accepted paper:

The future belongs to vegetarian food! Redefining Estonian culinary heritage in early 20th century advice literature

Authors:

Anu Kannike (Estonian National Museum)
Ester Bardone (University of Tartu)

Paper short abstract:

The paper addresses the issues of healthy food and well-being as well as the utopian dimension of nutritional and culinary advice literature of 1900s-1930s in Estonia. We focus primarily on the advocacy for vegetables and vegetarian diet in the context of rapidly modernizing food culture.

Paper long abstract:

The paper addresses the issues of healthy food and well-being as well as the utopian dimension of nutritional and culinary advice literature by turning to cookbooks, handbooks and magazine articles of the 1900s-1930s in Estonia. We focus primarily on the advocacy for vegetables and vegetarian diet in the context of rapidly modernizing food culture. We want to examine culinary and nutritional discourse of the period that followed the examples of Nordic and European countries. The existing peasant culinary heritage was redefined by emerging local nutritional and cooking experts. The latter, in turn, shaped what today is considered a prominent part of the classical Estonian cuisine. Food of vegetarian origin was given high value using moral, economical as well as scientific arguments. Various experts advised how to use more vegetables on the table suggesting that the modern kitchen should become a laboratory in which an informed housewife rationally applies culinary knowledge based on nutritional science. In addition to recipes and sample menus seasonality, locality and healthiness of vegetarian food was stressed. More radical approach saw the future of the diet mainly or solely in vegetarian food, in utopian visions raw vegan food was recommended as the healthiest, purest and most likely preventing all diseases. Although some suggestions from that period were never fully adapted in people's everyday food culture, the culinary and nutritional heritage represented in advice literature is worth reconsidering in the context of contemporary food consumption.

panel Food001
Culinary heritage as an island of well-being (Panel of SIEF working groups 'Historical approaches in cultural analysis' and 'Food research')