A cookbook is more than just a volume of recipes with drips, drops and splotches of gravy, soup and butter staining the cover and pages within.
According to Kamloops Museum and Archives curator Dennis Oomen, the cookbook is a personal artifact that reveals a family's history.
"It's more than just a book on a shelf. It's constantly being referred to and used," Oomen said Wednesday.
On display at the museum until February, the exhibit — Tried, Tested and Proved: Cookbooks, Family and Traditions — offers a look at the cookbooks found on Kamloops kitchen shelves and in cupboards.
"It's a snapshot of what was found in Kamloops at this particular time. These are treasured cookbooks that have, in many cases, been used extensively," said Oomen.
And there is a wide range of books kept safely under glass in the temporary gallery on the museum's second floor. Some are more modern, but many date back through the 1960s, 1950s and one volume from the 1750s.
This cookbook belonged to Enid Damer who, along with artist Tricia Sellmer, approached Oomen about hosting the exhibit six months ago.
Damer's volume is bound inside a horsehair cover on pages made of rag paper. The recipes, which include one for white elder wine, are hand written in ink.
"It's just full of family recipes," said Oomen.
Sadly, Damer died of cancer two weeks ago and wasn't able to see the exhibit open on Oct. 4. But Oomen said she and Sellmer worked hard to collect as many cookbooks as they could find.
Several were published in Kamloops, including a volume by the Royal Inland Hospital ladies auxiliary in 1952 and the Barnhartvale Centennial Cookbook in 1967.
The recipes contained within are distinct as well, from the elder wine of Damer's English heritage to the Newfoundland huff and puff salt cod recipe included in the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook.
Oomen recreated a Kamloops kitchen circa 1927 — minus the sink – and set up what he believes was a typical 1960s living room with old episodes of Julia Child's The French Chef showing on a TV.
Cooking is huge right now, he said. Chefs are superstars on TV and the cookbook — according to a recent article in the Globe and Mail — is considered an important forum for women's writing.
In that sense, Oomen believes the exhibit is a timely one, to Damer and Sellmer's credit.
"We're right on the curve," he said.
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.