The historian is reading At Home, by Bill Bryson:
The Historian: This book is just filled with interesting stuff.
Me: [looks up. Attentive. Am eating potato chips like it is my job.]
The Historian: "Until almost the middle of the century [nineteenth], instructions in cookbooks were always wonderful imprecise, calling merely for 'some flour' or 'enough milk.' What changed all that was a revolutionary book by a shy, sweet-natured poet in Kent named Eliza Acton. Because Miss Acton's poems weren't selling, her publisher gently suggested she might try something more commercial, and in 1845 she produced Modern Cookery for Private Families. It was the first book to give exact measurements and cooking times, and it became the work on which all cookbooks since have been, almost always unwittingly, modeled."
Me: [having just baked about a zillion tiny heart-shaped sugar cookies: considering it. Perhaps am not sweet-natured enough?] You said 'shy'?
The Historian: [chuckles like a madman.]