Between culinary and medical applications: herbal books as a source of well-being?
Burkhard Pöttler (University of Graz)
Paper short abstract:
The margins between recipes for culinary meals and those for medical purposes are rather fluid. Thus, many historical cookbooks contain recipes for medical applications as well. This mixture can be regarded an early wish for “wellness”, which nowadays gains new importance or at least interest.
Paper long abstract:
As the margins between recipes for culinary meals and those for dietetics or medical purposes are rather fluid, many historical cookbooks contain recipes for internal and external medical applications as well. The mixture of recipes for meal preparation and those for medical purposes can be interpreted as indicator for an early wish for "wellness", which nowadays gains new importance or at least interest. Especially in herbal books there are, besides a lot of recipes with strictly medical goals or the idea to protect against pestilences, many of them which could be classified under "wellness". They were intended to facilitate e.g. a good digestion, to stimulate one's appetite or to strengthen the body, as the example of a hand-written Carinthian cookbook from ca. 1800 illustrates. Preparations for internal as well as external use show the wide range of possible applications. Lots of recent herbal books reuse this concept. They contain recipes for the kitchen as well as for cosmetics and herbal remedies. Besides those following "classical" paths like that of Hildegard of Bingen, many of them value "grandmother's advice" and play with this imagination. In contrary, others lay stress on the modern aspects of the use of herbs in different contexts.
Culinary heritage as an island of well-being (Panel of SIEF working groups 'Historical approaches in cultural analysis' and 'Food research')