Annotated Cookbooks may make good timeful texts by Andy Matuschak (Andyʼs working notes)
I don’t think the right answer is to use something like the Mnemonic medium to memorize a cookbook’s contents. I think a likelier model is: each time you see a recipe, there’s some chance it’ll trigger an actionable “ooh, I want to make this!”, dependent on seasonality, weather, what else you’ve been cooking recently, etc. A more effective cookbook might simply resurface recipes intermittently over time, creating more opportunities for a good match: e.g. a weekly email with 5-10 cooking ideas, perhaps with some accompanying narrative. Ideally, the cookbook would surface seasonally-appropriate recipes. Seasonality would make the experience of “reading” a cookbook extend over the course of a year—a Timeful text. 
Indigenous peoples not only used holidays and other time-based traditions as a means of spaced repetition, but they also did them for just this purpose of time-based need. Winter’s here and the harvest changes? Your inter-tribal rituals went over your memory palace for just those changes. Songs and dances recalled older dishes and recipes that hadn’t been made in months and brought them into a new rotation.

Anthropologists have collected examples of this specific to hunting seasons and preparations of the hunt in which people would prepare for the types of game they would encounter. Certainly they did this for feast times and seasonal diets as well. Indians in the Americas are documenting having done things like this for planting corn and keeping their corn varieties pure over hundreds of years.

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

2 thoughts on “”

  1. I read it just after it came out, but Jared Diamond’s book The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies? has some good material on this topic as well. His work is more toward topics like restorative justice and judicial topics as well as cultural and social pieces we could regain. 
    Most of the other work I’m talking about relating to memory methods is less widely known/researched and is closer to the bleeding edge of current anthropology and archaeology. That being said, the research is incredibly compelling.  >
    The Noodlemap is looking pretty cool by the way…

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