Everybody knows what a cookbook is — or do we? They’ve been around at least since the Middle Ages, dispensing information on something that all households formerly had to do at least three times a day. Whether written by pros or home cooks, they convey more about their begetters and users than can be reduced to teaspoons and tablespoons. Over and beyond advice on buying, preparing, and serving food for purposes of health, thrift, glamour, or pure pleasure, they can speak volumes about the societies and times that have produced them — including our own. Far-reaching change is underway within the genre as recipes migrate online, or into e-books and culinary apps. The future undoubtedly holds even greater changes in the entire economics of cookbook publishing.
This conference is planned as an eclectic gathering of those who publish, write, edit, agent, research, or simply buy and use cookbooks. Our object is to share as inclusive a range as possible of our very different learning experiences. Our explorations will take two broad overall directions: Track I: “The Cookbook: Past and Present”; and Track II: “The Future of the Cookbook.”