"What books should I read next?"

18th & 19th Century American Cookbooks - Historic Cookbooks

Although many historians have been trying to make it, it's hard to what is "American food" to make a definition. Professor Paul Freedman of Yale University is one of them. Last year he published the book American Cuisine and How It Got That Way.

Freedman said: "The American diet is rich and colorful is one of its strengths, but in fact, many other ways you might not. Identity of."

Historians believe that American Cookery, written by Amelia Simmons in 1796, is the first truly American cookery book. For more details, see Michigan State University Digital Library. (An Longone, Wine and Food Library)
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Americans for avid food and people as much as other parts of the world. Freedman said we are now a number of prevalent culinary specialties, in fact, from the United States. Although Americans have now reduced their consumption of fast food, fast food has always been a hallmark of Americans. Far more than the United States Food and McDonald's milk cheese, canned, some rather distinctive American way of eating has to go abroad. From learning French to get one or two.

In order to understand the Americans in common taste buds, may wish to take a look at the history of American eating habits of five development phases.

Until the late 19th century, people still prefer to eat can fill their stomach food. Dairy products, meat, polenta, oatmeal, and sugar are the main foods, and vegetables are not so popular anymore. Vitamins (foods rich in them) were not accepted by people until the 20th century.

Freedman said perfume was considered poor food, "he said:." They (Americans) do not like spices, spices because they feel will not conducive to digestion, but also affect the original taste of food. "

A vendor selling clams in Mulberry Bend, New York in 1900. Clams and oysters are cheap and delicious. They are often sold by African-American vendors. (Byron/Detroit Publishing Co.)

According to Sarah Lohman, a historian, this is not always the case. Mary Randolph's The Virginia House-Wife published in 1824 mentioned the use of spices such as chili pepper.

Lohman said: "The impact of regional culture plays a significant role, especially from the Caribbean enslavement of people and from Africa, enslaved people affected or of African descent."

In the 19th century, when New Englanders were still eating whole grain bread and other foods to satisfy their hunger, (American) Southerners already had pork, syrup, green leafy vegetables, grilled cornmeal, and grain bread.

I use Google Books almost daily in my research. There are a few navigation challenges that I’m still not sure I’ve completely figured out. But over recent years, I’ve been able to establish a rather extensive virtual collection of original documentation.

There are different levels of access to the various books in Google’s collection. Some are available in print form only. 

There is a tremendous number of books, however, that are available online, fully digitized, and completely free for your perusal. These are the books on which I focus.




    18th & 19th Century American Cookbooks - Historic Cookbooks



    1. The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy

    by Hannah Glasse


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    Amazon's synopsis: 

    "A very interesting glimpse at everyday cooking in the daily life of 18th–19th century England, with many helpful tips, tricks, and recipes (for the day). The language is enjoyable and the information contained is substantial." — Jefferson-Madison Regional Library System.

    Revised and republished many times since its 1747 debut, this cookbook was a bestseller in England and the United States for more than 100 years. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned copies, and Benjamin Franklin even translated some of its recipes into French in hopes of attaining a taste of home while abroad.

    Author Hannah Glasse dismisses French cookery, the leading cuisine of her day, as inefficient for servants and middle- to lower-class cooks, citing its fussiness, expense, and waste. Instead, Mrs. Glasse focuses on the standard Anglo-American fare, from soups and gravies to cakes and jellies, all simple dishes, prepared in a straightforward manner. 

    In addition to practical advice on meat selection, carving, and basic cooking skills, this historically fascinating document offers tips on preparing food for the ill, cooking and food storage on ships, and making soaps and scents for the home. Historians, cooks, and all lovers of gastronomy will appreciate this glimpse into the kitchens of a bygone era.


    2. American Cookery

    by Amelia Simmons


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    Amazon's synopsis:

    This facsimile of the first American-written cookbook published in the United States is not only a first in cookbook literature but a historic document. It reveals the rich variety of food Colonial Americans enjoyed, their tastes, cooking and eating habits, even their colorful language.

    Author Amelia Simmons worked as a domestic in Colonial America and gathered her cookery expertise from firsthand experience. Her book points out the best ways of judging the quality of meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, etc., and presents the best methods of preparing and cooking them. 

    In choosing fish, poultry, and other meats, the author wisely advises, "their smell denotes their goodness." Her sound suggestions for choosing the freshest and most tender onions, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, asparagus, lettuce, cabbage, beans, and other vegetables are as timely today as they were nearly 200 years ago.

    Here are the first uniquely American recipes using cornmeal — Indian pudding, "Johnny cake," and Indian slapjacks — as well as the first recipes for pumpkin pudding, winter squash pudding, and brewing spruce beer. The words "cookie" and "slaw" made their first published appearance in this book. You'll also find the first recommended use of pearlash (the forerunner of baking powder) to lighten dough, as well as recommendations for seasoning stuffing and roasting beef, mutton, veal, and lamb — even how to dress a turtle.

    Along with authentic recipes for colonial favorites, a Glossary includes definitions of antiquated cooking terms: pannikin, wallop, frumenty, emptins, and more. And Mary Tolford Wilson's informative Introductory Essay provides the culinary historical background needed to appreciate this important book fully.

    Anyone who uses and collects cookbooks will want to have The First American Cookbook. Cultural historians, Americana buffs, and gourmets will find this rare edition filled with interesting recipes and rich in early American flavor.


    3. The Virginia Housewife

    by Mary Randolph 


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    Amazon's synopsis:

    Originally published in 1824, this influential, classic guide by a noted Virginia hostess is widely regarded as the first truly Southern cookbook. Compiled and written by Mary Randolph (reputed to have been the best cook in Richmond), it contains a treasury of cooking instructions for everything from hearty soups to exotic cordials. Included are time-honored recipes for a wide range of beef, veal, lamb, and pork dishes, along with fish, poultry, sauces, vegetables, pudding, cakes, preserves, and more. 

    In addition to such traditional Southern fare as okra soup, curry of catfish, barbequed shoat (a fat young hog), field peas, beaten biscuits, and sweet potato buns, readers will also find scores of recipes for dishes, condiments, and beverages rarely seen on today's dinner table: sweetbread and oyster pie, grilled calf's head, shoulder of mutton with celery sauce, fried calf's feet, pheasant "a-la-daub," tansy pudding, gooseberry fool (cold stewed gooseberries with custard and whipped cream), pickled nasturtiums, walnut catsup, the vinegar of the four thieves, ginger wine, and many other edibles from a bygone era.

    More than just a collection of recipes, however, this comprehensive cook's reference also provides a fascinating introduction to the food and customs of the antebellum South, as well as handy instructions for making soap, starch, and cologne water, cleaning silver, drying herbs, and much other useful advice.

    For this edition, Jan Longone, a specialist in antiquarian wine and food books, has contributed an informative new introduction that outlines the singular qualities of Mrs. Randolph's book and its preeminent place in American culinary history. Any cook, antiquarian, or lover of Americana will enjoy this rare glimpse into the kitchens of the past.


    4. American Frugal Housewife

    by Lydia Child 


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    Amazon's synopsis:

    First published in 1828, Lydia Maria Child's The American Frugal Housewife was an extremely popular nineteenth-century manual for homemakers. Interesting recipes and remedies, advice on parenting, and the myriad responsibilities of housekeeping are all put forth in straightforward, no-nonsense, Yankee prose. From 1832-1845, this popular book went through thirty-two editions.


    5. Directions for Cookery, In Its Various Branches

    by Eliza Leslie 


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    Amazon's synopsis:

    Eliza Leslie is best known for this work, originally published in 1837, which was the most popular cookbook in America at the time, selling at least 150,000 copies. Her simple, yet comprehensive approach to cooking gave her book appeal across socio-economic classes, making her recipes popular with both urban and rural families. This version, published in 1853, is the cookbook's forty-ninth edition.


    6. How to Mix Drinks: Or, The Bon Vivant's Companion

    by Eliza Leslie 


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    Amazon's synopsis:

    First published in 1862, this seminal work in bartending was the first drink book ever published in the United States. Collected here by Jerry Thomas--America's most famous bartender--are dozens of cocktail recipes, from old standards to mixes invented by Thomas himself, including his trademark drink, The Blue Blazer. 

    Guides for mixing drinks of all categories--including sours, fizzes, and highballs--are included along with instructions on using various bartending tools, from jiggers to ponies and beyond. This is a nostalgic and delicious homage to a drinking era that is gone but not forgotten.


    7. A Compilation of Over One Hundred Receipts, Adapted to the Times

    by E. Merton Coulter 


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    Amazon's synopsis:

    Originally published in 1863, this little book is a compilation of "receipts" to aid Southern households beset by shortages as the War Between the States raged on.

    "Designed to supply useful and economic directions and suggestions in cookery, housewifery . . . and for the camp," these helpful hints first appeared in newspapers and other sources. The original edition was bound in yellow, polka-dot wallpaper. Only five copies of that edition were known to exist a hundred years later.

    "A Cheap and Quick Pudding," "Apple Pie Without Apples," "Artificial Oysters," "Spruce Beer," "Soap," "Confederate Candles," "Simple Cure for Croup," "Method of Curing Bad Butter," "To Purify River or Muddy Water," and "Hints for the Ladies" on "freshening" a dress to the new style―these are all included, over a hundred "receipts" to get by in hard times.


    8. The Epicurean

    by Charles Ranhofer 


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    Amazon's synopsis:

    2011 Reprint of 1920 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Originally published in 1894 in two volumes, ours is the 1920 Edition complete in one volume. This was a landmark publication, the culmination of a remarkable career. It was considered "one of the most complete treatises of the kind ever published," wrote the New York Times at the time of Ranhofer's death. 

    A wonderful trove of culinary instruction, the work also stands as a historical treasure, recording the kaleidoscope of choice dishes, elaborate presentations, and celebrated occasions over which Ranhofer and Delmonico's presided. The publication of the book resulted in a flood of attention by newspapers to the workings of New York restaurants and the techniques of the chefs who ran them. 

    Ranhofer, when interviewed on the subject, listed the most important points of running a kitchen of forty-five chefs. Not only must the dinner be well cooked, "it must be equally well displayed." He prepared all the soups himself, considering them the mark of a restaurant's reputation. The waiters as well as the chefs needed to know how to time the courses. And he pointed out that it was not necessarily the most expensive dishes that were the best. Profusely illustrated with 800 Illustrations.


    9. The Boston Cooking School

    by Fannie Merritt Farmer 


    18th-19th-century-american-cookbooks

    Amazon's synopsis:

    A classic bestseller for over a century, the Fannie Farmer 1896 Cook Book contains an incredible offering of 1,380 recipes, from boiling an egg to preparing a calf’s head. Farmer’s instructions also go beyond recipes to include how to set the table for proper tea, full menu ideas for holiday dinners, housekeeping tips, and so much more. 

    This book is known for pioneering the standardization of measurements in recipe instructions, which made the creation of better meals possible for even the most inexperienced of cooks. Farmer’s thorough text is chock full of fabulous Americana for cooks and non-cooks alike.

    This book is a great buy for cooks who want to get back to basics and enjoy the pleasures of traditional American cooking. Cooks who think they've done it all will discover classic recipes to share with friends and family, and total beginners will be comfortable with Farmer’s clear instructions for even the most basic meal prep. The Fannie Farmer Cook Book will be a valued addition to your cookbook collection.


    10. Rufus Estes' Good Things to Eat

    by Rufus Estes 


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    Amazon's synopsis:

    Born a slave in 1857, Rufus Estes worked his way up from a Pullman Private Car attendant to a job preparing meals for the top brass at one of the country's largest steel corporations. This cookbook, the first to be written and published by a black chef, includes a number of dishes from Estes’ vast culinary collection.

    Commenting briefly on his Southern childhood and early years as a railway attendant, Estes goes on to offer simple instructions for preparing such standard fare as fried chicken, beef roast, and glazed carrots. 

    But the heart of the book lies in mouth-watering recipes for dishes rarely found in contemporary cookbooks — among them Creole-style chicken gumbo, chestnut stuffing with truffles, cherry dumplings, and southern-style waffles. Nearly 600 recipes — from haute cuisine to family-style meals — are included.

    Sure to intrigue food enthusiasts and collectors of old cookbooks, Rufus Estes’ Good Things to Eat will also appeal to anyone interested in the African-American experience.


    11. Joy of Cooking

    by Irma S. Rombauer  


    18th-19th-century-american-cookbooks

    Amazon's synopsis:

    “Generation after generation, Joy has been a warm, encouraging presence in American kitchens, teaching us to cook with grace and humor. This luminous new edition continues on that important tradition while seamlessly weaving in modern touches, making it all the more indispensable for generations to come.” —Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.

    “Cooking shouldn’t just be about making a delicious dish—owning the process and enjoying the experience ought to be just as important as the meal itself. The new Joy of Cooking is a reminder that nothing can compare to gathering around the table for a home-cooked meal with the people who matter most.” —Joanna Gaines, author of Magnolia Table

    In the nearly ninety years since Irma S. Rombauer self-published the first three thousand copies of Joy of Cooking in 1931, it has become the kitchen bible, with more than 20 million copies in print. This new edition of Joy has been thoroughly revised and expanded by Irma’s great-grandson John Becker and his wife, Megan Scott.

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