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CoReMA: Cooking Recipes of the Middle Ages: Corpus, Analysis, Visualisation

Hosting organisations
Zentrum für Informationsmodellierung - Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities (ZIM-ACDH)
Responsible persons
Helmut W. Klug

Cooking traditions, local and continental, are one of the most recognizable items of European culture, and a large part of European identities. During the last decades, research arrived at two important conclusions on these issues. First, there are no quantitative studies on the origin and formation of regional cuisines in Europe. Second, substantial evidence, namely manuscripts containing thousands of cookery recipes, first appears in the Middle Ages, which can be thus regarded as the birth of modern European cuisines. On the European continent Latin, Middle French and Early New High German recipes provide the majority of culinary transmission.

This project aims at realizing the cross-cultural research of medieval cooking recipes and their interrelation applying an interdisciplinary focus. The project will prepare the cooking recipe transmission of France and the German speaking countries, which sums up to more than 80 manuscripts and ca. 8000 recipes, for the analysis of their origin, their relation, and their migration through Europe. The comparison of French and German food history is especially suited for this task as France ever had a culturally formative influence on German speaking peoples!

The partners from the Laboratoire CESR (Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance), at the University of Tours and the Zentrum für Informationsmodellierung – Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and the Department of Medieval German Studies at the University of Graz provide the expertise to collect, to edit according to scholarly and digital standards, and to analyze these multilingual texts following up-to-date quantitative and qualitative research methodology. For machine aided analysis the recipe corpus and its metadata are edited and modelled according to international standards using XML/TEI, semantic web technologies and a research infrastructure that is laid out for digital preservation of research assets. All recipes are enriched through ontologies for ingredients, cooking processes, and food historically relevant data (e.g. on religious, cultural, or medical aspects). Within and across languages the project’s analysis will reveal concurring or deviating eating habits, text migration as well as the influence of neighboring countries on their respective cuisine. The research data will be the basis for spatial and temporal visualization and statistical evaluation, which will foster new approaches towards interpretation of the historical and cultural assets.

The research of the CoReMA project will not only provide a general model for the integration of further language collections into the research infrastructure but also add to the curricula of the respective disciplines medieval and early modern history, food history, and digital humanities. The project team also aims at science to public dissemination strategies to foster the awareness of food history and eating habits.