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Museums & Galleries Edinburgh serve up a taste of the city’s past in new cookery series

A NEW digital cooking series has been launched aiming to bring Edinburgh’s history to life through cookery during lockdown.

The new series has been set up by Museum & Galleries Edinburgh and is called “Cooking up the past.”

The new series will see Curator Vicky Garrington and Collections Assistant Oliver Taylor attempt to make dishes from Edinburgh’s past such as raw beef tea.

The series is the latest strand of activity as part of the ongoing Auld Reekie Retold inventory project, features videos of staff members cooking up historic recipes at home which have been sourced from digital copies of historic recipe books discovered in the city’s collection. 

Commenting on the new series, Vicky Garrington said: “With our venues closed and staff working from home, the Auld Reekie Retold team have been looking for new ways to share our amazing collections with the public.

“When I suggested the idea of filming a recipe to Oliver, he was up for the challenge, and hopefully the film we’ve made will inspire people to explore more of our collections online, and to revisit some old family recipes’.

Vicky Garrington - Food and Drink News Scotland
Curator Vicky Garrington

On researching the new series, Oliver Taylor added: “There were plenty of appetising recipes to choose from in the recipe book, but some were distinctly unappealing!” 

Alongside a tempting selection of recipes for pies, puddings and cakes were instructions for how to make dressed sheep’s head, raw beef tea to fortify invalids, boiled tongue and ‘Poor Man’s Goose’ which included sheep’s liver and heart.

“These recipes show how public tastes have changed over the years, as well as attitudes towards treating the sick.

“We’d be more likely to tempt a patient with ice cream or fresh fruit these days, than to brew up some raw beef tea!”

Oliver Taylor - Food and Drink News Scotland
Collections Assistant Oliver Taylor

The first episode in the series which is available to view via the Museums & Galleries YouTube channel shows the pair using an edition of the book Plain Cookery Recipes from the Edinburgh College of Domestic science.

They filmed their preparation, cooking and tasting from their own kitchens at home.

Culture and Communities Convener, Cllr Donald Wilson said: “A lot of people are drawing huge comfort from culture and heritage activities online at the moment.

“They can help us stay connected with our past and our shared heritage, as well as providing a welcome break from the stresses of daily life.

“As the Deacon of the Baxters (Bakers) which is one of our oldest Incorporated Trades I am aware of both the proud history represented in these collections but also the recent interest which has arisen as a response to the pandemic. 

“This is a fantastic project and I hope it encourages others to try the recipes.

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