Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Learn to Cook Medieval Style

A new educational website from Great Britain has been launched that will appeal to those with an interest in historical food and cookery, including from the Middle Ages.

Cookit! is a web based resource developed by the East of England Broadband Network (E2BN) aimed at students and the general public. As well as providing information on nutrition, healthy eating and a wide range of recipes, this website includes a section called the History Cookbook, which gives an in-depth examination of the history of cooking. This gives learners the opportunity to discover the intimate role played by food for people living in the past.

“The History Cookbook is proving a very popular resource”, states project manager Caroline Cuerden, “and its use within the curriculum goes far beyond the normal bounds associated with cookery”. The History Cookbook acts as a mini-site within the main Cookit website and contains podcasts, recipes, galleries, background information and activities related to historical cookery and nutrition.

The site is certainly ambitious in its approach and contains information on historic cookery from prehistoric times to the post-war period. “Where else”, asks Caroline Cuerden, “would you find information on Stone Age recipes for baked fish alongside recipes for Angel Cakes just like Granny used to make?”

The History Cookbook aims to be far more than just an extensive recipe collection and encourages a very hands-on approach to the subject. By looking at what people of the past actually ate, where they sourced their ingredients, how they prepared their food, students find themselves learning about many other aspects of the period. “The actual food itself”, she concludes, “ simply acts as a gateway to studies on health, social conditions and lifestyle. We hope that it will really bring the tastes and flavours of the past to life”.

The section on 'Saxons & Vikings' offers five video podcasts that detail how to make Mushroom Soup, Beancake and other meals from that period. The 'Norman & Medieval' section has three more video, including one for Girdle Breads and Roasted Little Chickens with Sauce. Both sections also include food and health facts from these periods, as well as modern recipes based on the medieval ones.

Cookit is just one of the projects being developed by the East of England Broadband Network (E2BN), one of the ten regional broadband consortia set up by the government to help raise standards in teaching and learning by the use of state of the art broadband technology. E2BN aims to draw upon good practise and collective expertise to share and deliver high quality educational resources across the eastern region. “What’s really innovative about E2BN projects like Cookit”, states Operations Manager Diane Earl, “is that they are far more than simple static web resources. Each project site is designed to be highly interactive allowing schools and students to upload and share their own ideas and results. It can turn an on-line resource”, she concludes, “into an on-line educational community”.

The official launch of the site will take place at Edworth Manor Barn, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, on Friday 9th October, when children from local schools will join with experts to experience over 12,000 years of cooking history. The launch will include cooking tips from WW II, a Victorian picnic, prehistoric baking and a chance to meet the Anglo-Saxons as they prepare their lunch.

Click here to go to Cookit!