Country cooking: cookbooks and counterculture in the 1970s

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This article discusses the underlying reasons for the rise in popularity of the country cookbook – a genre that reflects rural cookery practices, using locally-available, seasonal and foraged ingredients – in 1970s Britain. Despite country cookbooks being styled along traditional lines, their increased popularity very much drew upon unconventional, countercultural movements of: communal living, self-sufficiency and folk feminism. Country cookbooks can be seen as a direct response to a troubled decade, expressing a desire for an alternative life away from the work-consumption cycle and a longed-for dissent from agripolitics and industrialised food, but without the unconventionality of the commune, the hard graft of self-sufficiency, or the media-fuelled mockery of feminism. The 1970s was also the height of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the UK and women’s work in the kitchen was highly politicised. Amidst these debates, The country cookbook through its comforting, sometimes old-fashioned, recipes and advice offers an imagined return to country living, a psychological shift away from capitalism and the limitations of modern life. By adopting narrative structures and writerly tone which emulate rural life, the country cookbook emulates a mindset that draws from countercultures, but also proffers security and accessibility.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalFood and Foodways: Explorations in the History and Culture of Human Nourishment
Early online date6 Jul 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 6 Jul 2023


  • cookbooks
  • country cooking
  • countercultures
  • self-sufficiency
  • folk feminism
  • cookbook narratives
  • British cookbooks

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