You know these cookbooks, and you probably have at least one in your kitchen. They’re collections of home cooked recipes, put together by church groups, synagogues, school groups, political organizations, band boosters, and even biker gangs. They’re held together with stitches, comb binding, staples, or string. They’re photocopied, mimeographed, handwritten, sometimes typed out page by page. All of these books are defined by a community, with recipes collected from that community, and put together with the goal of raising money to benefit a cause within the community. These cookbooks are endlessly interesting. They illuminate various communities, share heartfelt recipes, and demonstrate creativity and grassroots publishing. They exist at the intersection of technology, home economy, advertising and marketing, and food safety, and bring more than 150 years of American history to life.
The three of us collaborated on publishing the Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook. As we’ve delved deeper into these marvelous books, we’ve discovered a shared passion for these fascinating and humble cookbooks. We want to share this love with others, and so we made a podcast!
In each episode, we’ll look at a single community cookbook and examine it as a physical object, a reflection of community, and a source of recipes from a very specific time and place. We’ll talk about why it’s interesting and what it says about the community it came from. We’ll interview special guests, and we’ll try a recipe or two from the cookbook’s pages.
In season one we're focusing on community cookbooks from Maine. In season two we'll begin to bounce around the USA in search of the country's most interesting community cookbooks!