30 March 2016, 5 - 8pm

Tickets £15 including supplies and dinner, £5 for DHS members
(dinner & drinks provided)

Hosted by Jane Levi, Food and Cultural Historian


How much can we understand about the tastes, techniques and aesthetics of historic tables without experiencing them for ourselves? 

Design historians often look to the furniture, flatware, crockery and dressings of consumption to tell us about cultural contexts of taste – both sensorial and cultural. In this hands-on workshop, you will be introduced to dynamic ways of reading and interpreting history via its cookbooks, using texts and paintings to consider rituals of consumption by making and tasting historical recipes.  

Part illustrated talk, part paleography, part guided cooking class, this workshop gives participants the tools to get deeper inside the everyday life of historical consumption practices – through its food. Historical paintings and food texts, especially cookery and recipe books, household manuals, and gardening books are much more than curiosities. They are deeply revealing resources about their time, with a richness of detail about the everyday and social contexts. Reading is not always research enough: we need to smell, taste and feel our food. 

Over the course of the evening participants will work in small groups to create different dishes from 17th-18th century cookery books. The evening’s workshop will conclude in a feast where we test and discuss each group’s contribution to the main table. 

Please note: some of the dishes may contain nuts, meat, wheat and dairy products. If you have strong allergies or dietary constraints please check with Michaela Young in advance of booking a place: designhistorysociety@gmail.com

Please book here to reserve your ticket. Spaces are limited.


Dr Jane Levi is a consultant, writer and researcher specialising in utopianism and food. A visiting research fellow in the History department at King's College London, she occasionally teaches in the Politics department at Birkbeck and is co-authoring a book, Food, Politics & Society for UC Press with her colleagues. Current projects include: guest curator of a food exhibition for the Foundling Museum (opening September 2016); producer of food, space and utopia-related projects for Somerset House's Utopia 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility. More details about her writing and food experiments can be found on her blog.