This is a past event

Cookery books from the University of Aberdeen's Special Collections. Now extended to 1st October.

Modern recipe books regularly top the non-fiction bestseller lists and their authors, the "celebrity chefs", are household names. This exhibition showcases a selection of cookery books and food-related pamphlets from the University of Aberdeen's Special Collections. They date, predominantly, from the 1800s, a period during which a fashion and a passion for food was fed by the dramatic increase in book publishing. The names of the cooks may not be familiar, but their books sold like hot cakes.

On our Summer menu are starters of acorn bread and viper broth; main courses of ragooed larks and venison pasty; and desserts that quake. There are showstoppers by Joseph Bell, Royal Confectioner, and the truth behind the blackbirds baked into a pie. Some curious items include the designs for a pressure cooker from 1681; the first printed recipe for the potato crisp; and a miniature cookbook containing over 800 pages of pies, jellies and puddings.

There are cautionary tales too. The sad demise of the lady who ate poisonous pickles is recounted by Fredrick Accum, and Launcelot Sturgeon, Esquire, considers the consequences of an irresistible sauce.

The exhibition pays homage to Aberdeen’s very own signature bake, the Rowie, with a wartime buttery made without butter, and invites visitors to try more of the Rowett Institute’s nutritional reinventions of classic Scottish dishes such as Cullen Skink, Rumbledethumps and Clootie Dumpling.

Get Cooking!

We'd like you to have a go at cooking some of the classic recipes featured in the exhibition too.

Our Signature Challenges include:

  1. Quaking pudding, a classic 16th century recipe.
  2. A cake shaped and decorated to look like a piece of fruit.
  3. An Entremets pie (no live blackbirds please!).

You'll find the recipes, and information about posting photographs of your bakes, in the exhibition.

Lifting the Lid: 400 Years of Food & Drink in Scotland

National Library of Scotland touring exhibition

The 'Cooking The Books' exhibits are accompanied by a touring display from the National Library of Scotland on the subject of '400 Years of Scottish Food and Drink'. Subjects include:

  • Desserts & Baking
  • Fish & Shellfish
  • Oatmeal & Bread
  • Soups & Broths
  • Jams & Preserves

There's an activity cart and games to have a go at, and a film reel featuring a menu of foodie films from the Scottish Screen Archive.

Hosted by
Special Collections Centre, University of Aberdeen
The Sir Duncan Rice Library

Opening Times

  • Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri: 10am - 5pm
  • Thursdays: 10am - 7pm
  • Saturdays: 10am - 4pm
  • Closed on Sundays during the summer

Special Collections Gallery, The Sir Duncan Rice Library, Bedford Road, Aberdeen, AB24 3AA
For more information, please contact scc.events@abdn.ac.uk

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