An Unusual Medium: Recipes

Recipes in the first issue of  Kin Magazine  for VSO

Recipes in the first issue of Kin Magazine for VSO

At Smoke Creatives, we’re all about storytelling. An Unusual Medium is our series where we take a look at some of the more unconventional storytelling mediums and celebrate them in all their glory. For this post, we’re honouring the recipe.

The History

Recipes have been passed down throughout the ages, many of them surviving without having been written down for centuries. And the places they have been written down have changed a lot over the years. A recipe for bread can be found on an ancient Egyptian tomb in Luxor. Taking into account the fact that the Egyptians filled their tombs with prized possessions they wanted to bring to the afterlife with them, it must’ve been some good bread.

The oldest known cookbook in the world comes from ancient Mesopotamia and dates back to about 1700BC. The three clay tablets written in Akkadian detail meat and vegetable dishes flavoured with complex mixtures of herbs and spices. Recreating some of the recipes today would be difficult – some of the ingredients either can’t be translated or no longer exist and most of the instructions are brief, only including basic preparation steps.

The Noteworthy

There are recipes of all shapes and sizes that can be found in a variety of places. They’ve gone from tomb walls to videos on your Facebook feed. They can be detailed instructions for theatrical feasts, or vague clues if it’s The Great British Bake Off’s technical challenge. But really, the most noteworthy recipes are the ones most important to the individual; a treasured family recipe, a favourite meal, or the one signature dish you can never screw up. They might be handwritten on paper, ripped from a magazine, pinned to your Pinterest recipe board, or in a cookbook covered in stains.

Why Smoke Loves Them

To some, they might just be a set of instructions that may or may not be carried out but for many, recipes represent a lot more. Their lines can carry history, culture, and memories as well as ideas and directions for delicious meals. Recipes are also an interesting medium in how they can contain an endless number of variables – ingredients, combinations, methods -  yet they always need to follow a certain arc. A recipe written in the wrong order would be at the very least annoying or at worst useless. And even if you have no intention of ever making a dish, you can get a lot out of reading how to make one. Recipes are like travel writing; you’re taken on a journey from the preparation stages to serving, all while stirring up images and flavours to enjoy in your imagination.

Read the next post in our Unusual Medium series on gravestones.