Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: SW Florida
Originally Posted by HistoricFoodie
Mark Lurlansky is one of my favorite food historians. Anyone who hasn't read his "Salt" and "Cod" doesn't deserve to call themself a foodie. I haven't read "Food of a Younger Land" as yet. Isn't that the one dealing with the WPA's America Eats project for out-of-work writers?
Let's see, in terms of the 18th century, I'll have to confine myself to titles that are available in reprints. Keep in mind that I'm dealing, primarily, with English cookbooks, because my focus is British North America. Understand, too, that there was no copyright law back then, and many of these books seem samee-same because they pick up recipes and text from each other with abandon.
In order of importance (that is, their usefullness in colonial and federalist times):
1. Hannah Glasse, "The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy." First published in 1745, Art of Cookery went through something like 30 editions, and influenced both cooks and other writers well into the 19th century. It's been reprented many times, and copies are readily available.
2. John Farley, "The London Art of Cookery." First published in 1787, it picks up stuff from several earlier works. London Art was particularly popular with those who ran inns, ordinaries, and other food-service establishments. To my knowledge it's only been reprinted once, but is moderately available.
3. Elizabeth Smith, "The Compleat Housewife." First published in 1729, many other 18th century cookbooks were based on it. It was reprinted in 1968, in hardback, then later in soft cover. The hardback is a facsimile reproduction and is harder to find.
4. Amelia Simmons, "American Cookery." Published in 1796, this is considered the first American cookbook. It's important both for that reason, and for some of the insights she provides to period foodstuffs. It's recently been reprinted, again, in softback.
5. Mary Randolph, "The Virginia Housewife." Although published in 1823, it represents Mary Randolph's experiences as a hostess to upscale Virginians. She had been a plantation owner, and ran an upscale boarding house (more like a salon) that catered to the FFVs. Very commonly available.
This should get you started. Your local library might have some of them. If not, they can likely find them through the ILL.
If you want more, I have a list of 23 source materials in the back of both my books.
The London Art of Cookery reference rang a bell, encouraging me to share an anecdote that, although nearly a century later, casts some light on public "accommodations."
In the spirit of picking up text with abandon, here's a short description from a book published in 1856 by Hugh Miller, an American visitor to England:
"I breakfasted one morning in an exceedingly poor-looking coffee-house, into which I saw several people dressd in dirty moleskin enter, just that I might see how the people who dress in dirty moleskin live in London. Some of them made, I found, exceedingly little serve as a meal. One thin-faced, middle-aged man brought in a salt herring with him, which he gave to the waiter to get roasted; and the roasted salt herring, with a penny's worth of bread and a penny's worth of coffee, formed his breakfast. Another considerably younger and stouter man, apparently not more a favorite of fortune, brought in with him an exceedingly small bit of meat, rather of the bloodiest, stuck on a wooden pin, which he also got roasted by the waiter, and which he supplemented with a penny's worth of coffee and but a halfpenny's worth of bread."
No matter how simple it seems, it's complicated.