Plague Waters, Chocolate Cures, and Sickdishes: Food and Health in Medieval and Renaissance Recipes | Newberry

Plague Waters, Chocolate Cures, and Sickdishes: Food and Health in Medieval and Renaissance Recipes

Led by Sarah Kernan. One session. 9:30am-12:30pm
Saturday, August 1, 2020
Saturday, August 1


As a precaution to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Adult Education Seminars Program’s Summer 2020 term will be moving online. Virtual seminars will meet via Zoom video conference and will use email and Google Drive folders to share resources and communicate with instructors and participants. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars and these tools, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. If you have questions about online learning, please feel free to reach out to

For more information about the Newberry’s response to COVID-19 please visit

Seminar Description

People have long turned to food to maintain health and cure ailments. In medieval and Renaissance Europe, professional and household practitioners prescribed food and medicines recorded in printed and manuscript recipes to preserve and manage health during times of plague and illness. In this seminar, we will examine the historical relationship between health, food, and recipes, considering professional medical theories, household health practices, medical and culinary recipes, and more.

One session. Registration – $85

Sarah Peters Kernan is an independent culinary historian whose research focuses on cookbooks in medieval and early modern England. She is co-editor of The Recipes Project and collaborates regularly with the Newberry Library. She holds a PhD in medieval history from the Ohio State University.

Materials List


  • A free digital course packet of additional material, compiled by the instructor and distributed electronically before the seminar begins.

First Reading:

  • Please read the selection of recipes, manuscripts, and other readings in the digital course packet (a link to the digital course packet will be included with the email confirming your registration).

Registration Information

Online registration opens at 9 am (CST) on Wednesday, June 3.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, the Adult Education Seminars staff is working remotely and will be unable to process registration over the phone. For more information about registration, including a guide to online registration, see our Registration Information page. Questions? Please contact seminars program staff via email at

We offer a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students.

This seminar is part of the Newberry’s Seminars Program. Learn more about registering for a seminar, program policies, or teaching a seminar.