A couple of years ago, I took an advanced grammar class in grad school. We basically had to spend the entire semester doing a research paper on a particular kind of grammar. Knowing that I'd be spending so much time with this project, I wanted to pick something I am interested in. Thus, I chose food. The grammar of food? Yes.
Recipes. I spent months studying the grammar of recipes from the 18th century up until Jamie Oliver. And it was awesome. The more I read recipes, the more I realized something fascinating: the grammar of recipes was distinctly feminine.
The recipes from the 18th century were short and skeletal. They were written by women who had little time and probably did not have those little recipe cards. The 18th century recipes were loose, in that they left room for the changing seasons and for the creativity of the cook. They were short enough to be carried along by a memory, and they assumed the reader had all of the knowledge she needed to complete the scarce recipe without too much detail. There were no measurements and, oftentimes, there were no exact ingredients. One of the recipes was for "Fruit Biscuits," and the first line was "Any fruit will do." It is a recipe for any season, a recipe that allows the cook to use her own creativity, to be resourceful, inventive, and economical... or not.
Modern day recipes are much different. They show great distance between the writer of the recipe and her audience. They are full of detail and exact measurements. They are to be written down (or printed) and come with all kinds of pictures, catering to their audience.
So that was my 25 page grammar research project in a nutshell. I could go on, but I think most of you probably (really) don't care. All that to say, that project is one of my most favorite papers I have ever created. I was inspired by the grammar of the 18th century recipe writers and the respect they had for food, the seasons, and each other. Papers like that inspired me to write and keep writing. Not all of it was fun, but I hope to continue to research that topic and to publish it in a journal one day. Nerd goal of my life.