Subject headings for cooking and food and drinking customs

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee

Question/Answer on cataloging issues — June 2015

Question: What are the correct subject headings for cooking and food and drinking customs?

By Carolyn J. McCallum, Wake Forest University

All living things (e.g. humans, animals, and plants) require food and drink to survive in this world. In addition to its physical roles in providing nourishment, food and drink also play important roles in our cultural lives during holidays and other life events. This cataloging Q&A explores subject headings applied by Library of Congress (LC) to works on cooking and food and drinking customs.

Food habits is used by LC to describe works on food customs, and this subject heading can be subdivided geographically, topically, or by genre.

Food habits—Brazil

Food habits—Environmental aspects

Food habits—Moral and ethical aspects

Food habits—Political aspects

Food habits—Psychological aspects

Food habits—Religious aspects

Food habits—Social aspects

Food habits—Fiction

Food habits—History

Food habits in literature

Food habits—Juvenile literature

Food habits—Songs and music

The subject heading Food can be used as a subdivision under specific ethnic groups (e.g. Inuit—Food).

In the past, the LC authorized the heading cookery to describe works on food preparation (heated and unheated). It has now been superseded by the heading Cooking, a more common, everyday word used by most individuals. Cookery—it baffles me that LC chose to use this term in the first place. How many library patrons would use or even know that term?

Collections of recipes have the heading Cookbooks applied to them. Works on cooking in specific locations are applied the heading Cooking which is then subdivided by the location’s name (e.g. Cooking—Appalachian Region; Cooking—Burma), whereas works on national or ethnic cuisines and cooking styles have headings such as Cooking, American and Cooking, Chinese applied to them. For religious and some ethnic groups of individuals, the religion or a group’s ethnicity comes before the heading “cooking.” For example:

Mennonite cooking which also has the authorized, narrower heading, Amish cooking.

Parsee cooking

Jewish cooking

Gullah cooking

Cherokee cooking

Eskimo cooking

One particular note of interest, the following narrower headings appear under Jewish cooking: Hanukkah cooking; Passover cooking; Rosh ha-Shanah cooking; and Sephardic cooking. The heading Jews—Dietary laws appears as a cross reference (i.e. “See Also”) under Jewish cooking. Several noteworthy narrower headings appear under Jews—Dietary laws, many of which specify laws pertaining to either the handling, inspection, production, and partaking of wine and certain foods. For example:

Gelatin (Jewish law)

Kashering of meat

Kashering of utensils

Kitniyyot (Jewish law) Per LC’s authority record, “In the Mishnah legumes are referred to as kitniyyot, a name derived from katan ‘small’ because the seeds are usually small.”

Meat inspection (Jewish law)

Milk and meat (Jewish law)

Mixture of permitted and forbidden foods (Jewish law)

Plant inspection (Jewish law)

Wine and wine making (Judaism)

Two subject headings, Jewish cooking and Kosher food, are cross-referenced under Jews—Dietary laws.

Dietary laws is established as a topical subject heading under some religious groups, but not all. Additional specific religious groups for which Dietary laws is established under include: Black Muslims, Muslims, Jains, and Sikhs.

Muslims—Dietary laws is cross-referenced with the subject heading Halal food.

Subject headings that append Dietary laws are considered to be narrower terms under the broad headings Food—Religious aspects—[name of religion or specific denomination] and Nutrition—Religious aspects—[name of religion or specific denomination]. For example:

Food—Religious aspects—Judaism

Nutrition—Religious aspects—Judaism

Food—Religious aspects—Black Muslims (Per LC’s authority record, the term Black Muslims is used for works on the movement known as the Nation of Islam or Black Muslims.)

Food—Religious aspects—Islam

Nutrition—Religious aspects—Islam

To locate works on dietary laws for other religions and denominations that do not append Dietary laws to their headings, search for the subjects Food—Religious aspects—[name of religion or specific denomination] and Nutrition—Religious aspects—[name of religion or specific denomination]. For example:

Food—Religious aspects—Mormon Church

Nutrition—Religious aspects—Mormon Church or Nutrition—Religious aspects—Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Monasticism and religious orders—Dietary rules and Buddhist monasticism and religious orders—Dietary rules are both considered narrower terms under the subject headings Food—Religious aspects and Food—Religious aspects—Buddhism respectively.

Regional styles of cooking can be designated as well by headings such as these, Cooking, American—California style and Cooking, Chinese—Cantonese style. When a work is about a specific style of cooking in a specific locality, two subject headings are applied to it. For example: 1. Cooking, American—Louisiana style. 2. Cooking—Louisiana—New Orleans. Works about specific ingredients used in cooking are assigned headings following this pattern, Cooking (name of food or drink). For instance:

Cooking (Absinthe)

Cooking (Garlic)

Cooking (Gelatin)

Listed below are some other interesting, specific subjects headings found that pertain to cooking and food and drinking customs. Please note that this is not an exhaustive listing.

Clambakes   Per LC’s authority record, a clambake is “a seashore picnic where clams, fish, corn, and other foods are traditionally baked on heated stones covered with seaweed.”

Drinking customs

  • Chinese tea ceremony
  • Japanese tea ceremony
  • Korean tea ceremony
  • Moroccan tea ceremony
  • Coffee drinking
  • Drinking games
  • Kava ceremony
  • Libations
  • Symposium (Classical Greek drinking party) Per LC’s authority record, “A symposium was a Greek drinking party that followed the evening meal. After libations had been poured and a hymn sung there was drinking according to an agreed procedure; the wine was diluted with water in various proportions. The participants were garlanded and many used perfume. Some did not drink; others displayed riotous intemperance. In addition to conversation the guests told riddles and fables, and sang capped drinking-songs, and pieces of verse from traditional classics or recent drama. Games were played … There was usually a woman pipe-player, and displays of dancing, acrobatics, and miming were often given by hired performers.”
  • Toasts
    • Wedding toasts

Holiday cooking

  • Christmas cooking
  • Easter cooking
  • Halloween cooking
  • Kwanzaa cooking
  • Thanksgiving cooking
  • Valentine’s Day cooking

In closing, this is just a smattering of the hundreds of Library of Congress Subject Headings assigned to the topics of cooking and food and drink customs. There are headings for specific cooking techniques (e.g. Smoking (Cooking)) as well as cooking with certain appliances/equipment (e.g. Chafing dish cooking; Convection oven cooking). Visit the information page for the subject heading Cooking in LC’s authority file to view additional headings.

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