The recipe as a text type has been investigated among others by such scholars as
Carroll (1999), Taavitsainen (2001a, 2001b), Görlach (e.g., 2004) and Mäkinen
(2006). Schmidt (1994) distinguishes three types of the recipe: the medical, culinary
and general. The majority of research conducted so far deals with the medical
recipe or treats the text type as a whole without discussing the differences between
the particular sub-types. The few studies devoted exclusively to the culinary recipe
usually concentrate on its single features (for instance the presence of null objects,
as in Massam and Roberge 1989, or Culy 1996).
A diachronic study of the recipe shows the evolution that the text type has undergone,
since the earlier a recipe the more it varies from what we know today (cf. e.g.,
Culy 1996, Martilla 2009). The earliest culinary recipes, written in English, come
from the late Middle English period. However, following Hieatt and Jones (1986:
859), “the earliest culinary recipes occur in two Anglo-Norman manuscripts” from
the beginning of the Middle English period.
The aim of the present paper is to compare the Anglo-Norman and Middle English
recipes. The former come from the end of the 13th and early 14th centuries, the latter
from the 14th and 15th centuries. The study concentrates on some of the formal
features of the texts, such as the length of the recipes, and their structure, esp. such
recipe components as the heading and the procedure.
The corpus can be divided into two parts: (i) the Anglo-Norman database, which
consists of 61 recipes (belonging to two collections), and (ii) the Middle English
database, composed of 208 recipes which were either translated or derived from the
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