Re: Narrative Technical Writing

Subject: Re: Narrative Technical Writing
From: Robert Lauriston <robert -at- lauriston -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 2009 08:20:04 -0800

Ancient cookbooks are just lists of ingredients. Even by the 18th
century, directions were usually quite perfunctory. Eliza Acton's
Modern Cookery for Private Families (1845) and Mrs. Beeton's Book of
Household Management (1861), the most influential early modern
cookbooks, have no more narrative prose than Joy of Cooking. Fannie
Farmer's Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1896) established the modern
format of a precise list of ingredients followed by detailed

Cookbooks with lots of narrative passages are a relatively recent
phenomenon that I think evolved in response to cooking becoming a
leisure-time entertainment rather than an essential daily household
chore those who could afford it handed off to servants. The earliest I
can think of is Elizabeth David's 1954 Mediterranean Food, which had
some precursors in M. F. K. Fisher's earlier books, which are not
cookbooks so much as collections of memoirs and other essays with the
occasional recipe.

On Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 8:00 PM, Janoff, Steve
<Steve -dot- Janoff2 -at- teradata -dot- com> wrote:
> Hi Chris,
> PPS - By the way, just to kick this off, I don't cook, but I'll bet
> there are some wonderful old-timey cookbooks that get into this sort of
> leisurely technical exposition of how to create wonderful meals that
> make your mouth water just reading about them.

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Re: TECHWR-L Digest, Vol 48, Issue 27: From: Chris Despopoulos
Narrative Technical Writing: From: Janoff, Steve

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