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Nov 10, 2010 11:41 AM

Looking for a cookbook

I am very interested in historic cooking methods and recipes. I am trying to find cookbooks or books about cooking/foodways from say 1600-1900 in Europe and the Colonies/US. Can anyone offer any suggestions?


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  1. Saltwater Foodways by Sandra Oliver does a great job on late 19th century coastal New England.

    1. I've had great success at antique stores and estate sales. I have several now that are from the 1800's to the early 1900's. They are great fun because many have a section of household tips. They tell you how to catch the turkey, kill the turkey, wash the turkey (with lye soap and water!) and finally how to roast the bird over an open hearth. These have all come from browsing the sales.

      1. Chris Kimball of America's Test Kitchens has a new book out called something like Fannie's Last Dinner. It involves his efforts to recreate an authentic Victorian era dinner party based on the Fanny Farmer cookbook. Of course you could just get the FF cookbook but his book also goes into elaborate detail about the equipment, preparation methods, and ingredients. I have not read his book, but he was a guest yesterday evening on our local PBS station (WTTW in Chi), being interviewed about the book. Sounded pretty interesting.

        1. There's a new book titled "97 Orchard" that documents the food and cooking methods of German, Italian, Irish, and Jewish immigrants living in a New York tenement between 1863 and 1935. I haven't read it yet, but I'd be interested in hearing from anybody who has.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LaPomme

            Thanks, LaPomme - I didn't know about this book before. Three of my grandparents came through Ellis Island and lived in the Lower East Side before (separately) making their way to New Jersey.

            I've read probably hundreds of multigenerational family sagas that were popular in the 60s and 70s, but very little nonfiction. I've just ordered 97 Orchard.

          2. Get Evan Jones's "American Food". Great survey of American cooking and foodways both chronologically and by region. It's been in and out of print, but I've bought and/or seen dozens of copies in used bookstores and estate sales. I'm sure it's on Amazon. I would not be without it. James Beard's "American Cookery" is not so much a history, but he does cover many old recipes. And John Egerton's "Southern Food" is a deeper version of the Jones book, but focusing on the South.