It’s the Cake Talking
Theorizing the Recipe Memoir


Recipes – captured on paper and in analogue mode - are frequently marked by residues from ingredients, cooking, experience and expertise. Drips, drops, mistakes and successes leave their dregs on cookbooks and individual recipes. In this article, I deploy unobtrusive research methods (Kellehear 1993), revealing a history of these residues. When opening a recipe book, researchers can see which pages were (well) read and which were never opened. Notes, additions and corrections can be tracked. Digitization has transformed this process. Mobile phone applications provide recipes and blogs sharing successes and failures. It is – ironically – an undercooked genre but one that provides opportunities to renegotiate the relationship between family and popular culture, information literacy and food literacy.

The recipe memoir offers a window into an array of intricate social, cultural, gendered, classed, rural, regional and national histories. As Clementi has shown, the recipe memoir may encase histories of migration and genocide (Clementi 2014). Blogs publish recipes to track the movement “From Child to Chef” (Arrouze 2014). Most frequently, the genre is used to understand a family as it moves through time and space, how continuities are bent, bruised and reshaped through changes to work, leisure and landscape (Ellsworth 2010). Recipe memoirs can, to cite Jane Dixon, “explain the production of tastes for foods and food practices” (2002:80). Interdisciplinary innovations are also present. Diane Tye revealed Baking as Biography (2010). It is also history and historiography, geography and cultural geography. It weaves through popular and unpopular culture. While expansive histories of the agrarian and industrial revolutions can be traced through ingredients and the recipes that fed the factories, the recipe memoir creates a tapestry of textures, stories, memories and tastes that are not definitive, causal or easily accessible for a researcher. This emerging genre has profound potential to reveal the “lipstick traces” (Marcus 1989) – the ephemeral textures, colours and sounds - of culture.

Greil Marcus’s evocative title, Lipstick Traces, has been summoned with intentionality in this article. Instead of asking E.H. Carr's old question “What is History?” (1961), it is time to rephrase this enquiry in a way that captures the role of digitization in forgetting and remembering, while also acknowledging the insights of mobility studies (Urry 2007) and popular memory studies. Greil Marcus captured the tone of this new enigmatic trajectory for history and for historians:

What is history, anyway? Is history simply a matter of events that leave behind those things that can be weighed and measured: new institutions, new rulers, new winners, new losers, or is history also a matter of those things that seem to leave nothing behind, nothing but the mystery of spectral connections between people long separated by place and time. If the language they are speaking, the impulse they are voicing, has its own language, might it not tell a very different story from the one we've been hearing all our lives? (Marcus 1989: 6)

Recipe memoirs are an ideal space, place and genre to track and trace these “spectral connections” between people who may never have met, or who do not share the present. Marcus has described chronology as “the way history is cheapened and restricted” (1995:5). Every moment that passes sees the destruction of alternative views, interpretations and source material. The notion that historians make a past built on factual evidence that is a mirror of the time from which it emerges is delusional at best, and politically blind at worst. The disappearances of history, the source material that does not survive through time, results in a profound narrowing of the past realities that are possible to access. Recipes – particularly in an era of digitization and applications – may be shared, but the diversity and localism of family memories through food is rarely captured. Old cookbooks are discarded. Houses are sold. Families fragment. Ingredients transform.

The recipe memoir prioritizes epistemological discussions about the nature of history and its relationship with folklore. The impact of women's history and social history has changed the way historical methods are constituted. The hierarchy of historical research has allowed the main sources of evidence to remain parliamentary papers, newspapers, journals of political organizations and diaries. Similarly, the research strategies through which these conventional sources are being accessed display little knowingness of contested subjectivities, multiple readerships or the complexity of text/context relationship.

Greil Marcus showed the impact of dismissing this type of evidence, particularly for the marginalized and dispossessed:

There are people who act and speak but whose gestures and words do not translate out of their moments – and this exclusion, the sweep of the broom of this dustbin, is a movement that in its way is far more violent than any toppling of statues (1995:17-18).

To blandly place faith in the written document over the popular cultural trace is to perpetuate an inequality and oppression that is wide in its magnitude and dense in its consequences. Women, as much as indigenous and black communities, gays and lesbians, the working class and youth, have been sliced from time, space and historical evidence (Spivak 1988; hooks 1989). To construct a history of the ephemeral – the shadows cast by “authoritative” source material - requires a range of interpretative techniques that are beyond the parameters of both history and cultural studies, but requires a nuanced dialogue between the two. Through changing the genre, mode and modality, a new type of interpretation can emerge. The recipe memoir is radically contextual and profoundly interdisciplinary. At its most basic, a recipe memoir requires an understanding of social history, oral history, family history, feminist theory, men’s studies, food studies, popular memory studies and – increasingly – internet studies. But complex theorizations of globalization, industrialization, post-fordism, urbanity and sub/urbanity are also necessary.

These characteristics of the recipe memoir are emerging, even though the dissemination on and offline is diverse. A recipe, often shared between the generations, is the key element. Ingredients are listed and discussed. Methods of preparation and serving are offered (Melissa’s Recipe Memoir 2014). From this simple list of instructions, more complex meanings are revealed, accessing the social, cultural, sociological and sensory meanings encircling food. Most significantly, they capture the memory – often a nostalgic memory – of a family and time that has passed. Frequently, recipes provide a code to interpret the (social) semiotic system (Kress 2010) of a household, a marriage, children and a family. Community and family, popular culture and popular memory, dialogue and transform.

This article opens out the recipe memoir, demonstrating its potential in capturing diverse and often unwritten histories in new ways. At its core is a recipe memoir from my family: chocolate goo. The narrative of this recipe is clear. The history and historiography that punctuate this chronology are more complex. The original recipe has been lost. Digitization has enabled the survival of the original through pixels rather than pages. Through an oral history interview – carried by a podcast – the context around this recipe has been discovered, revealed, published and distributed (Brabazon 2014).

Where is the Goo?

Tara Brabazon: What does it taste like? Kevin Brabazon: Just like chocolate goo (Brabazon 2014).

The facts in this case seem clear. In 1963, my brother Stephen Brabazon, at nine years of age, was taught how to swim by a neighbour. Mrs. Smart, along with my parents and brother, lived in Yokine, a rapidly expanding Perth suburb geared for families. To this day, the best known features of Yokine are its shopping centre and a golf club. Therefore, from this conventional – and indeed emerging – suburban life of Australia, a recipe was shared. It was not passed from my grandparents, but through a neighbour.

Therefore, this recipe memoir commences in suburban Perth. The burgeoning suburbs have been “a problem” for urban planners and creative industries practitioners in Australia, but they are a conduit for a recipe memoir. This undervalued genre is sourced from an undervalued location. For example, Charles Landry was brought in by Form, the Perth-based not-for-profit organization, for a two year consultancy to provide “expert” commentary about the city’s future. He presented a distinctive cultural mapping of the city:

Last weekend I criss-crossed over 350 kilometres of Perth from the Eastern suburbs to the Western in search of a speck of urbanity. I do not denigrate the delights of suburbia, but Perth has 98% of it. The suburban washes over metro Perth like an endless patina as the swathes of asphalt covered to get there dull the senses. How about 80% suburbia and 20% of the truly urban to start with? You see a touch in Subiaco, East Perth, Fremantle and Mount Lawley. But where else? (2007)

Charles Landry moved from east to west looking for urbanity. The suburbs he valued are affluent, older and gentrified. Yokine is not listed. The repercussion of such analytical attacks is that it perpetuates classism and inequality and demonizes the suburbs. Over the last decade, the poorest of citizens have moved to the extremities of cities. The affluent have clustered in the suburbs within a twenty minute car trip to the CBD. The affluent and educated affirm the value of urbanity, while the majority of the population occupies the middle and outer suburbs. Bernard Salt stated that “the problem I have is that city planning, and more often Australian culture, appears to be determined by those whose lives are based in the inner city, and not by the silent majority of average Australians who live in the suburban heartland. Perhaps it’s time to listen to what the latter have to say about the kind of lifestyle they want to lead in suburbia” (2008:28). The texts that emerge from the suburbs – often also coded as feminine, popular cultural and ephemeral – are similarly discredited. The recipe memoir is trapped in this discourse.

The suburbs frame family memories of food. In the case of chocolate goo, the mode of transmission was my brother, who was so impressed by the “cake” that he transcribed the recipe to pass to his mother. Here is a scanned copy of the original (See Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 - Chocolate Goo recipe, written by Stephen Brabazon, scanned by Kevin Brabazon

This recipe is now 51 years old. This document captures a popular mode of “running writing” in the 1960s. This “authenticity” feeds into Miller and Deutsch statement that “Evaluating primary sources is generally a matter of asking a number of questions. The first question to ask is, is it genuine? Is the document or artifact authentic?” (2009:85). In this case, with a digitized artifact, such a question is important. Yet this scan has perpetuated browning and ageing paper, stains and also unidentified and recognized pencil marks logging information that is unclear in both original and purpose. It holds an important role in the family for many reasons. Firstly, Stephen, as a nine year old, enjoyed eating this cake. Doris, Stephen’s mother, was having trouble finding food that he enjoyed. As Doris stated, “He wouldn’t eat. I was struggling to make him eat” (Brabazon 2014). She reported that he “came home and told me he’d got a recipe” (Brabazon 2014). This movement of a recipe was remembered because it only happened once. The idea that he would enjoy a food so much that he would copy it and pass it to his mother was rare. This story also dipped into a history of childhood and food that is rarely discussed or textualized. Often, the focus is on school food, empowered through institutionalization (Robert and Weaver-Hightower 2011).

Figure 2

Figure 2 Chocolate Goo (Photograph by Kevin Brabazon)

These stories are often lost, unless an act of historical reclamation takes place. Often new evidence has to be constructed in the present about the past, particularly through oral history. Oral historiography is an inexact process, particularly with older interviewees, but beneficial in terms of evidence created and personal connections revealed (Ehlman, Ligon and Moriello 2014). When accessed through media applications such as Skype, the mode of information captured, even when the interviewee and interviewer are geographically dispersed, is sensory, sensitive, affective and effective. It can also be conflictual and incorrect. Yet the errors are in themselves important. Oral historiography demonstrates that all histories are histories of the present. Jeff Miller and Jonathan Deutsch were incorrect to state that, “the novice food studies scholar working in a historical area needs to remember not to fall into the trap of presentism” (2009: 79). There is no method, mode or theory – with the exception of reified empiricism - to deny the current context of contemporary writing and interpretations of food, war, fashion or genocide. Historians are managing the imperfect reference materials that have survived into the present. Most recipes, practices and behaviors are lost to written, let alone archived, records and can only be reclaimed imperfectly through men and women retelling their pasts and their family stories through the frame of the present. A fine example of this process is Michal Bosworth’s oral history, Emma (Ciccotosto and Bosworth 1990). In this case, the life story of Emma Ciccotosto is punctuated by food, cooking and recipes. She is not conveying “reality” to Michal Bosworth, but offering a subtle and moving refrain while retelling her life. To pretend that such a past of food and family exists in a vacuum untroubled by the present is naïve empiricism. All texts that survive are read through the present. History is not “about” facts, but interpretation. The strength of my oral history podcast with my parents – although flawed in both technological and methodological terms – is that an array of early food behaviors in Western Australia were revealed, particularly encircling rural life during the depression.

While Stephen Brabazon was the conduit for sharing the recipe through a written document, and the context around it was gained through oral history interviews with his parents, the chocolate goo would have remained unmade if it was too complex or time consuming. Both Doris and Kevin Brabazon were in full-time work in 1963. Doris completed all the cooking, but her time was torn between household duties, family responsibilities and paid employment. Jean-Louis Flandrin described this change as “over the past two centuries, women have had less time for these traditional responsibilities” (1999:436). The notion of “traditional responsibilities” is indeed a traditional rather than a feminist ideology. But the key point raised through the oral history with Kevin Brabazon was a recognition of the shifts in the behaviour of his mother (from the 1930s) and wife (from 1950). His mother’s days were dominated by cooking. His wife had to manage multiple responsibilities and a lack of time available for food preparation. She was assisted through the management of this complex daily timetable by emerging domestic technology (Sheridan 2002).

The early 1960s was a pivot for many of these changes. Yokine as a suburb was growing. Further, 1963 was a special year, one that Kevin described as “the year of the Beatles” (Brabazon 2014). Therefore, multiple popular cultural memory-triggers encircled this recipe. But its simplicity is important because it connotes the changing priorities of femininity and shifts in the pattern of family life. When prompted in a podcast, Doris could list the ingredients and methods without hesitation. At the conclusion of her retelling of the recipe, Doris used the phrase “end of story” (Brabazon 2014). What she meant by this statement is that the cooking process was quick, simple and effective. But the simplicity of this recipe is also the start of a different story.

Making the story

Ingredients and preparation methods are not the end of a recipe memoir. Food travels. Meanings change. Also, naming protocols are significant. The “goo” signifies that this foodstuff is not a cake, fudge or biscuit. It has a texture similar to flapjacks, with coconut, rather than oats, providing the texture. The ingredients are basic: self-raising flour, cocoa, coconut, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla essence. These ingredients of baking have – outside of structural periods of scarcity like depression and wars – a wide and diverse availability. Most have a colonial origin (Nutzenadel and Trentmann 2008) and reached familiarity and entry into popular culture through baking cultures of the twentieth century.

Chocolate goo carries forward the histories of both chocolate and cake. As Sarah Moss and Alexander Badenoch argued, “chocolate is complicated” (2009:7). Theobroma cacao grows naturally within 20 degrees of the equator and below 300 metres in altitude (Moss and Badenoch 2009). Therefore the nations that consume the most chocolate do not grow it. Chocolate entered Europe through Spain, but in the 18th century it was consumed as a breakfast drink (Moss and Badenoch 2009: 41-42). In 1828, chocolate transformed with the Van Houten press, selling machines to Cadbury in 1860, Fry and Sons in 1866 and Hershey in 1893. The challenge with chocolate – in grasping both its history and present ideologies - is well revealed by Moss and Badenoch:

That ambiguity, or rather series of ambiguities, offers a good summation of many of the current places of chocolate in our lives and indeed throughout much of its history. It remains a puzzling mixture between familiar and exotic, global and local, guilty pleasure and overlooked injustice (2009:119).

The question is what happens when chocolate is put into a cake. The complexity intensifies. The history of the cake is similarly convoluted. As Nicola Humble argued, “Cakes are very strange things, producing a range of emotional responses far out of keeping with their culinary significance. They are simultaneously utterly unnecessary and absolutely crucial” (2010:8). Cake through its history has overlaying relationships with bread, biscuits, muffins and puddings. Gingerbread, pancakes and oatcakes demonstrate the variations in the definitions of cake. Teacakes are bread. Tea Breads are cakes. The separation emerged in the 18th and 19th century, when yeasts were used in bread and cakes were raised through eggs, particularly beaten egg whites. The chocolate goo recipe has a single beaten egg and no yeast. It is part of a history of post-war baking which Humble revealed is when, “baking went down-market, becoming the province of popular women’s magazines and cookery pamphlets, which continued to place great emphasis on the baking of cakes and biscuits long after more upmarket publications had ceased to do so” (2010: 6). The language is dismissive and pejorative. When women and magazines popularized baking, the ‘upmarket’ chefs moved to more complex preparatory rituals. But food has changed. Baking has been revived. Programs such as Ace of Cakes make cake construction edgy, risky, skillful and masculine. Such a revival/reclamation shows that Doris Brabazon’s flippant “end of story” comment, which conveyed the ease at which the chocolate goo could be made, is not a strength within a particular gastronomic discourse. Similarly Pinterest captures, and disseminates, pictures of perfectly formed baked delights. Therefore social media has increased the performativity and mastery of baking. It is removed from a domestic, every day, suburban practice.

Much has changed in the ideology of baking since 1930 (Tye 2010). Indeed, when remaking this recipe, the ingredients display the marks of transforming food practices in the twenty first century: organic (Lyon 2006) and ecological. The eggs I used to remake the recipe were not laid by caged birds, but free range. Indeed, a QR code on the base of the package allows consumers to view live footage of satisfied and mobile chickens. These eggs are then branded as “ecoeggs.” For ten eggs, (not even a dozen), the retail price is A$6.89.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Ecoeggs (Photograph by Tara Brabazon)

Of all the ingredients in this recipe, the production and consumption of chicken and eggs have witnessed the greatest change (Ellis 2007). Self-raising flour is seemingly straight forward. However it now features two mitigating adjectives: “unbleached” and “healthy.” It is also “vitamin enriched.” For one kilogram, the supermarket price is A$3.28.

Figure 4

Figure 4 The Healthy Baker (Photographed by Tara Brabazon)

Sugar is “low GI cane sugar.” This sugar is “better for you.” It is also not white. White food, particularly sugar, activates a specific signifying system. As Warren Belasco stated,

Whiteness meant blandness. The two main seasonings of white middle-class culture were white salt and sugar, with white saccharin making gains along with the other white powders that went into plastic foods and their wrappers (1989:49).

The critique of this ideology emerged from the counterculture. Brownness in rice, bread and sugar critiqued whiteness. Class, food and culture became more complex. Yet from the 1970s through to the present, science – or pseudo-science – affirms low glycemic indices carried through the countercultural ideology of brownness. The price for 750 grams of LoGiCane is A$3.57.

Figure 5

Figure 5 Low GI (Photographed by Tara Brabazon)

Coconut is “fine” and “desiccated.” The iconography of the coconuts are green even though the desiccation is white. For 250 grams, the cost is A$2.57.

Figure 6

Figure 6 Fine (Photographed by Tara Brabazon)

The cocoa powder is Dutch, with an array of languages and consumers featured on the reverse of the packaging. The heritage of Van Houten, as the first firm to build effective equipment for the manufacture of cocoa, is summoned. This history is costly, with 250 grams requiring A$7.51 from the consumer.

Figure 7

Figure 7 Cacao (Photograph by Tara Brabazon)

This is distinct from the other cheaper choice that was available. Cadbury – as a brand (Bradley 2008) – is associated with packaged chocolate sweets and also the colour purple, which emerged in the packaging during the 1920s (Chrystal 2012). It is cheaper than Van Houten, with 250 grams costing A$5.90.

Figure 8

Figure 8 Cadbury's nostalgic purple (Photographed by Tara Brabazon)

No other languages are featured on the package. Instead nineteenth century colonial iconography of gentrified ladies and gentlemen are the background for a colourized and intense cocoa.

The Vanilla extract is ‘natural’ and, conversely, concentrated. The price for 200ml is A$11.38.

Figure 9

Figure 9 'Natural' (Photographed by Tara Brabazon)

Adjectival choice in food packaging walks the line between actuality and aspiration. Rachel Laudan offered a corrective to the celebration of the “fresh” and the “natural,” believing that these words until very recently were not trusted (2001). Fresh food went bad. Preserved food survived. Similarly, butter is unsalted, natural and features “no artificial ingredients.” This “natural” product – for 250 grams – costs A$3.76.

Figure 10

Figure 10 Unsalted butter (Photograph by Tara Brabazon

The changes between this recipe transcribed by Stephen Brabazon in 1963 and the ingredients prepared by his sister in 2015 capture the transformations to food production and consumption. Choice has increased. Information about those choices on food packaging has increased. Yet taste is not measurable or verifiable, particularly when peppered with memory. Is the resultant mixture any better than that cooked without the mitigating adjectives of low GI, eco and natural?

Figure 11

Figure 11 Mixing Goo (Photograph by Tara Brabazon)

What makes chocolate goo interesting in terms of cooking is that the resultant mixture is dry, only moistened and bound by an egg, butter and a trace of vanilla. The texture of the coconut is visible.

While the goo is simple to make, the deskilling of baking reduces the time and expense of making a cake even further. There was a reason I placed the price in Australian dollars of these “authentic” ingredients. While readers may be operating in a different currency, these prices enable a direct comparison with the cheaper and quicker options available to buy a packaged chocolate cake.

Figure 12

Figure 12 Deskilled cooking (Photograph by Tara Brabazon)

With the addition of one egg to this packet, a cake can be made. The packet costs A$5.36 and is much cheaper than taking the time and effort to make a chocolate goo. Further deskilling emerges through the purchase of a pre-made cake. This situation is what Jean-Louis Flandrin described as “‘ready-to-eat’ industries” (1999: 436). These industries emerge from a modern food system where shortages are rare. Variety and choice are common (Beardsworth and Keil 1997). The sustainability of this system remains debatable, particularly with regard to health (Beardsworth and Keil 1997). Felipe Fernandez-Armesto described part of this process as the “industrialization of chocolate” (2001: 224). Convenience is an ideology that masks the separation in both time and geography between production and consumption.

Figure 13

Figure 13 Pre-made, pre-bought chocolate cake (Photograph by Tara Brabazon)

This 500 gram cake costs A$5.00. The plastic container is removed and it can be served. This mode of convenience has a context. The changes to work, families and femininity are mapped over the transformations in production, shopping, storage and baking.

Digital goo

Our generation, like those that went before, must learn how to manage the relationship between past and present, tradition and change (Flandrin and Massimo 1996: 553).

This analogue history of recipe survival has been enabled through digitization. It was shared between neighbours six years before I was born. The original piece of paper has been lost. The entire cookbook in which the piece of paper was placed is lost. Before it was either misplaced or displaced, I had asked Kevin to scan this recipe. I was in the United Kingdom teaching a first year course in 2008 titled Creative Industries. Evaluating Charles Leadbeater’s Living on Thin Air, I wanted to demonstrate the value of ideas rather than products. Therefore I used the chocolate goo recipe to teach this principle. Here is an extract from the lecture.

The new knowledge economy is not based around the creation of ideas,
but the commodification of ideas.

Leadbeater explains this idea through the example of the chocolate cake.
We are going to take some time here with the chocolate cake,
Because if you get this – the rest of the course is a piece of cake.

Leadbeater made the following statement
Think of the world as divided up into chocolate cakes and chocolate-cake recipes. A chocolate cake is what economists call a rival good: if I eat it you cannot. A chocolate cake is like most products of the industrial economy: cars, houses, computers, personal stereos … The chocolate-cake recipe is like many of the products of the knowledge economy. Software, digital codes and genetic information are all like powerful recipes which control how hardware – computers and bodies – work. We are moving into an economy where the greatest value is in the recipes, rather than the cakes.

So a chocolate cake can be sold only once.
But the recipe can be commodified and sold over and over again.

Here for example is my mother’s famous recipe for the best chocolate cake in the world
In the family – we call it ‘chocolate goo’
It is a combination of cake and fudge.
It is magnificent.

I am sharing this with all of you today.
But once we’ve eaten the cake, it is gone
and you will have no idea how it is made.

It is a Brabazon secret.

But if I sold you the recipe for it
that is the real value of the cake.

So intellectual property rights and copyrights
over fashion designs, lyrics, music, writing and images
are where the money can be made.

These are issues of law, not creativity.

Therefore, even within this early modelling of creative industries, the product – the goo – has a singular value. The recipe has the lasting value. For students, this was a tangible strategy to teach the primary principle of creative industries: the value of ideas, not products. This article demonstrates the movement of ideas more widely than can be expressed in a particular model for economic development. Configuring a recipe memoir creates a textured history that moves beyond undulations of continuing and change, and into popular memory. Parts of the past jut and transform into our present.

Because Kevin was in Western Australia and I was living and working in the south east of England, digitization was the only strategy to move this recipe between countries. Now this scan, and the podcast about this recipe, is all that remains of this moment of food memory. This recipe memoir also moves from analogue to digital platforms. From these residues, a lipstick trace of the past is assembled. This personal narrative delves into transformations of rurality, urbanity, femininity and work. Sidney Mintz stated that “we need to know more than we do about the history and sociology of our own food practices” (2006:3). Similarly, there is a necessity to understand the relationship between food and memory, taste and knowledge. A recipe memoir allows scholars to, as Michael Carolan suggested, enter “into the subjects of food and food politics by way of the lived experience” (2011:7). Such an analysis is even more important with dessert. As Michael Krondl revealed, “when you talk about dessert you step away from analyzing basic human needs to a conversation about culture” (2011:3). Chocolate goo is the start of this conversation about how Western Australian food moved and moves beyond the state, and from analogue to digital platforms. Whether authentic, eco or healthy, a chocolate trace of suburban history is carried in, on and through a recipe memoir.

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Notes
  • 1 A key genre of the website Memoir.com are recipe memoirs. Please refer to http://writeyourmemoir.com/tag/recipe-memoirs/
  • 2 For a discussion of how popular memory studies intervene in theorizations of history, particularly when attended by Cultural Studies, see my monograph T. Brabazon, From Revolution to Revelation (2005).
  • 3 Importantly though, hierarchies of “evidence” still exist, even in social history. Jay Hopler, when researching the literature of contractual murder, tells of her relationship with pulp fiction: “the stories themselves were shallow and formulaic; the characters were cardboard cut-outs that meandered from one almost-sexual encounter to another and, no matter what the plot was or where the story was set, someone inevitably ended up unconscious in an alley behind some strip bar or juke joint … The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction confirmed what I had always suspected – pulp fiction was worthless” (2002:460). She later realized that by moving away from text-based models of literary criticism and granting the audience of these books a context and space through Cultural Studies methods, the genre gained meaning in a particular time and place. Hopler’s article is an outstanding “journey piece,” capturing how even the most liberal of social historians were able to discount “evidence” because a history degree provides few skills in audience analysis.
  • 4 Even when utilizing photographic and filmic sources, a notion of cultural value is deployed in a way that excludes other ways of reading visual culture. For example, please refer to Horst Bredekamp (2003). This research, while appearing to incorporate a wide range of visual culture, offers singular readings of “art,” wherever it may be found.
  • 5 Managing nostalgia in recipe memoirs is important. When summoning a recipe a particular version of family, home, femininity and masculinity can follow. Moya Kneafsey, Rosie Cox, Lewis Holloway, Elizabeth Dowler, Laura Venn and Helena Tuomainen warned that, “Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, which can be tapped into successfully by marketers seeking to capitalize on our capacity for idealizing the past,” from “Contextualizing ‘alternative’ food relationships,” in Reconnecting Consumers, Producers and Food: Exploring Alternatives (2008:310).
  • 6 Podcasts are an under-discussed element of food media. While blogging and – to a lesser extent – Twitter are discussed in the literature, the relationship between sonic media and food, and podcasting and food, are rarely mentioned. For example, please refer to Signe Rousseau’s Food Media:Celebrity Chefs and the Politics of Everyday Interference (2012).