Sure to rise: reading the Edmonds cookery book as a popular icon
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Cookbooks are one of a variety of written forms that can be read as historical documents, functioning as testaments to individual, familial and cultural development. In the recipe, one can find a sense of culinary preference which simultaneously shapes and is shaped by a sense of belonging and identity. The (post-) colonial past of countries such as New Zealand and Australia allows a particular view into reading cookery books as chronicles of everyday life as well as an archive of cultural memory, uses and popular customs. Starting from the premise that cookbooks can function as a site for heritage and identity, this paper addresses the status of the Edmonds cookery kook as a popularised national icon. Now an established presence within New Zealand’s culinary culture, the Edmonds collection – first published in 1908 as The sure to rise cookery book – has evolved over the decades to include new and updated recipes, mirroring the cultural and socio-historical moment in which it was placed. With this in mind, I analyse how cookbook writing can be interpreted as a national practice which owes a lot of its success to pervasive links to popular culture. My paper also offers a critical framework which highlights the material conditions – historical, aesthetico-political and socio-cultural – that encouraged the rise and popularity of the Edmonds cookbook within an expanding national readership.