Karen Hess, food historian (1918-2007)

Culinary historian Karen Hess died May 15, 2007 at the age of 88. To SCA cooks and others with an interest in medieval and renaissance foods and cookery, she is best known as the editor of a collection of 16th and 17th century recipe manuscripts owned by Martha (Mrs. George) Washington.

Hess' extensive notes (Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery) (1981) covered medieval culinary history as it related to the later Elizabethan and Jacobean recipes in the manuscripts. As noted in her New York Times obituary, "Ms. Hess was not a trained historian, but she fervently believed in the importance of primary sources and demanded that professional historians apply the same techniques to the study of the household that they did to the study of wars and presidents." She was known for her direct expression of her opinions, as in her bibliographic note on Fabulous Feasts. At the time of her death, she was working on a book on Thomas Jefferson's table.

To listen to Debbie Elliot's NPR story of Ms. Hess (All Things Considered, May 26, 2007): http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10474690&ft=1&f=1053

Tribute in Spring 2005 newsletter of the Culinary Historians of New York: http://www.culinaryhistoriansny.org/newsletters/newsletters_web/Spring_2...

Karen Hess

A very good article on Karen Hess may be found in the newsletter Food History News http://www.foodhistorynews.com/notebook.html

See May 16, 2007

Johnnae llyn Lewis