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Transcribe Bentham


A Participatory Initiative


Bake it like Bentham

By Tim Causer, on 15 March 2013


Adding 1d (and more) of labour

As regular followers of the Transcribe Bentham Facebook and Twitter accounts will know, volunteers have recently been transcribing a series of recipes compiled (presumably by Bentham) for the panopticon prison kitchen.

As part of the Journal of Victorian Culture‘s historical bake-off competition, I recently had a go at producing Bentham’s recipe for ‘baked apple pudding’, with mixed results (though I’m glad to say that no-one at the Bentham Project was poisoned as a result of tasting it). You can read about this attempt at the JVC website.

Below, you will find links to all of the manuscripts containing Bentham’s cooking tips and recipes. Should you feel suitably inspired to make something yourself, we would be delighted to host your account of it and any pictures here on the Transcribe Bentham blog – just drop us an email!

General cooking directions












4 Responses to “Bake it like Bentham”

  • 1
    RJL wrote on 21 March 2013:

    In line with the culinary theme of this post, might I also draw attention to an interesting passage in Bentham’s correspondence, on the importance of a well-prepared coffee. On April 27, 1793, he wrote to his friend Benjamin Vaughan offering a gentle rebuke and a remedial gift.
    “The coffee you give forms so perfect a contrast with everything else one finds at your house, that I am scandalized at the thought of it. For the credit of your consistency I send you a machine, in which the best of all possible coffee has been made, in the judgement of the best Judges.”
    For the use of this new machine, Bentham includes preparation instructions.
    “Proportions 3 ½ water (measured by coffee-cups) to one of coffee. By the benefit of this hint, consistent coffee may be drunk to the end of time: not to mention the faculty of heightening and lowering the strength of the infusion secundem artem, according to idiosyncrasy. Both coffee pot and machine should be previously heated with boiling water. Economists prefer one collation; but if the coffee is once perfectly covered by the water, it is a question among the learned, whether what is gained in strength by this means, be not lost in delicacy.”
    He also makes a recommendation about the kind of coffee that is best, and in this passing comment, reveals a prejudice that marks him as a man of his time, despite his better, impartial, moments.
    “N.B. Coffee to be drinkable, must be made from Mochea. Your West India coffee is only fit for negroes. I had a promise of some coffee worthy of the machine, but the promise has not yet been fulfilled, otherwise you would have had coffee and machine together.”

  • 2
    Transcribe Bentham FAQ | UCL Transcribe Bentham wrote on 27 March 2013:

    […] There is the potential for new and exciting discoveries to be made. Volunteers have already discovered manuscripts relating to Bentham’s views on the treatment of animals (including an episode from Bentham’s childhood, where he incinerated earwigs in a candle); have identified a significant, unpublished portion of Bentham’s 1802 attack on the practice of transporting convicts to Australia, Panopticon versus New South Wales; and have transcribed a series of recipes compiled by Bentham for the panopticon prison’s kitchen. […]

  • 3
    Food Links, 24.04.2013 | Tangerine and Cinnamon wrote on 24 April 2013:

    […] Jeremy Bentham’s apple pudding. […]

  • 4
    Progress update, 19 to 25 October 2013 | UCL Transcribe Bentham wrote on 25 October 2013:

    […] Centre for Publishing MA course this week, who will be producing a Bentham cookbook based on the panopticon recipes uncovered by TB transcribers. We’re looking forward to this, and are sure that the results will look much better than our […]

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