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Apr 21, 2007 03:43 PM

Rare and favorite cookbooks

I like to collect cookbooks. In addition to contemporary cookbooks, I also like to buy rare, old, or even antique cookbooks. Does anybody have particular favorites to recommend or know of old or rare books worth looking into?

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    1. Charleston Receipts. It's a reprint from a collection from the 1950's Junior League of Charleston, SC. The recipes are archaic Southern coastal fare, usually cooked by black servants. There are stories and anecdotes from Charleston in it, and also discussions of Gullah, the African/English language spoken down there, which is currently endangered. If you found one of the original printings, I'm sure that would be quite a score. I cook out of it fairly often, actually. There are amazing recipes for desserts (this is where my pecan pies come from), entertaining, cocktails, etc. Some recipes are so authentic as to be only marginally edible, such as the Black Fruit Cake, which calls for much spice, rosewater, bourbon, and a touch of flour. It also requires long, low baking, almost dehydration instead of cooking. My brother loves to make it, and sends it to clients and famyily every year. Some love it, some think he's insane.
      It's a true regional treasure.

      2 Replies
      1. re: vickib

        I love Charleston Receipts. Is it the recipe for syllabub that tells you to take your bowl to the barn and milk the cow over it?

        1. re: Old Spice

          Yes! I'm looking at the recipe right now. Cider, brandy, and milking a cow. Now that's cooking!

      2. My favourite is called "Twelve Company Dinners; Or, the Well Fed Guest Made Easy" by Margo Rieman, published in 1956. I've never cooked anything from it but it's a fun read if you can find a copy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mrsleny

          Ahhhh, finally, another Margo fan...I have this book and another called "Quick Gourmet Dinners" from 1972 that changed my life and influenced my entire way of cooking....this woman was a genius...I cook from these books all the time,and know most of the recipes from the "Quick.." book by must read them if you already have not....the are both good,fun reads and very useful.

        2. The 1897 Fannie Merritt Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook is one of my favorites. Has measurements like "butter the size of a walnut."

          1. I'm not sure if this is rare, but my understanding is that it's still out of print: Howard Mitchum's Provincetown Seafood Cookbook for Portuguese Cape Cod cookery, which I found for the best price at Tim's Bookstore last summer. At the time there were three or four copies on the cookbook shelf. Tim's is in Provincetown, tucked away on Commercial Street.

            1 Reply