DS08 - Sociétés innovantes, intégrantes et adaptatives

Cooking Recipes of the Middle Ages: Corpus, Analysis, Visualisation – CoReMA

Submission summary

Cooking traditions, local and continental, are one of the most recognizable items of European culture, and a large part of European identities. But how did they get to be what they are? How did they evolve, what were their influences? During the last decades, research arrived at two important conclusions on these issues. First, there are no quantitative studies on the origin and formation of regional cuisines in Europe. Second, substantial evidence, namely manuscripts containing thousands of cookery recipes, first appears in the Middle Ages, which can be thus regarded as the birth of modern European cuisines. On the European continent Latin, Middle French and Early New High German recipes provide the majority of culinary transmission. Since the 1960s scholars attempt to provide overviews of the different regional cuisines based on historical evidence but since then no one tried to comprehensively include the transmission of culinary recipes into this research. Time, money and effort would have been very high. Today we have access to edited cooking recipe collections and manuscripts as digital images, and digital humanities research methods, which greatly helps to facilitate analysis of a comprehensive corpus of historical recipes.
This project aims at realising this long dreamed-of goal and even putting an interdisciplinary focus on the cross-cultural research of medieval cooking recipes and their interrelation. The project will prepare the cooking recipe transmission of France and the German speaking countries, which includes more than 80 manuscripts and ca. 7200 recipes, for the analysis of their origin, their relation, and their migration through Europe. The comparison of French and German food history is especially suited for this task as France ever had a culturally formative influence on Germanic peoples!
The partners from the Département d'histoire, Laboratoire CESR (Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance), at the University of Tours and the Zentrum für Informationsmodellierung – Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and the Department of Medieval German Studies at the University of Graz provide the expertise to collect, to edit according to scholarly and digital standards, and to analyse these multilingual texts following up-to-date quantitative and qualitative research methodology. For machine aided analysis the recipe corpus and its metadata are edited and modelled according to international standards using TEI-XML, semantic web technologies and a research infrastructure that is laid out for digital preservation of research assets. All recipes are enriched through ontologies for ingredients, cooking processes, and food historically relevant data (e.g. on religious, cultural, or medical aspects). Within and across languages the project’s analysis will reveal concurring or deviating eating habits, which have built European identities and heritage, text migration as well as the influence of neighbouring countries on their respective cuisine. The research data will be the basis for spatial and temporal visualisation and statistical evaluation, which will foster new approaches towards interpretation of the historical and cultural assets.
The research of the CoReMA project will not only provide a generic model for the integration of further language collections into the research infrastructure but also add to the curricula of the respective disciplines medieval and early modern history, food history, and digital humanities. The project team also aims at science to public dissemination strategies to foster the awareness of food history and eating habits.

Project coordination

Bruno Laurioux (Centre d'Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


MSH Val de Loire USR 3501 Maison des Sciences de l'Homme du Val de Loire
CESR Centre d'Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance
ZIM-ACDH Zentrum für Informationsmodellierung - Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities

Help of the ANR 579,908 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2018 - 36 Months

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