Women’s History Month, Part 10: Mrs. (Harriet Anne Bainbridge) de Salis (1829-1908)

This week, we’re taking a look at the work of Harriet Anne (Bainbridge) de Salis (or, as she usually published, “Mrs. de Salis”). She was a prolific British writer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, authoring more than 20 books (many of which went through more than one edition). While most were about cooking and household management, she also wrote a book on dogs, one on raising poultry, and her first publication was a history of kissing! Harriet Anne Bainbridge married William Salis in 1872, the year before her kissing book was published. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide.

Although it isn’t explicitly clear why she added the “de” to her moniker, one wonders if she wanted to add a little something extra to match her “a la Mode” series of books. While her “reference” type books had a broad audience, her tastes (and topics) often ran to the higher end: she produced an entire volume on oysters, even her “small” meal plans were complex, and her main ingredients were unlikely to be found in homes of those on a limited income. However, that failed to detract from her popularity!

Currently, we have only two of her titles in our collection, and until I started researching this post I had no idea quite how active she was. Now, however, I know to be on the lookout!First up, there’s Drinks a la Mode from 1891. This title includes cups and punches, as well as cocktails, notes on beer and wine, and simpler drinks for invalid.

Our second of her titles is The Housewife’s Referee: A Treatise on Culinary and Household Subjects from 1898. This is reminiscent of the many household management guides in our collection. It includes sections on what you have in your kitchen (and why), plenty of recipes, and a variety of meal plans for every season and occasion.

Bibliography:

  • Kissing: Its Origin and Species, 1873
  • Entrees a la Mode, 1887
  • Dressed Game and Poultry a la Mode, 1888
  • Dressed Vegetables a la Mode, 1888
  • Oysters a la Mode, or, The Oyster and Over 100 Ways of Cooking It: To Which are Added a Few Recipes for Cooking All Kinds of Shellfish, 1888
  • Soup and Dressed Fish a la Mode, 1888
  • Sweet and Supper Dishes a la Mode, 1888
  • Cakes and Confections a la Mode, 1889
  • Tempting Dishes for Small Incomes, 1890
  • Wrinkles and Notions for Every Household, 1890
  • Drinks a la Mode: Cups and Drinks for Every Kind of Every Season, 1891
  • Floral Decorations: Suggestions and Descriptions, 1891
  • New-Laid Eggs: Hints for Amateur Poultry-Rearers, 1892
  • Dogs: A Manual for Amateurs, 1893
  • Puddings and Pastry a la Mode, 1893
  • New Things to Eat and How to Cook Them: Fancy Dishes and Relishes Not to be Found in Ordinary Cook Books, 1894
  • Gardening a la Mode: Fruits, 1895
  • Gardening a la Mode: Vegetables, 1895
  • Savouries a la Mode, 1894
  • National Viands a la Mode, 1895
  • The Art of Cookery Past and Present: A Treatise on Ancient Cookery with Anecdotes of Noted Cooks and Gourmets, Ancient Foods, Menus, etc., 1898
  • The Housewife’s Referee: A Treatise on Culinary and Household Subjects, 1898
  • A la Mode Cookery: Up to Date Recipes, 1902

If you’re looking for more information, I found a couple of helpful links along the way. Cooksinfo.com has a short biography, bibliography, and even includes some quotes about and reviews of her works. The Internet Archive has about 15 of her books available in digital form (including Drinks a la Mode and The Housewife’s Referee in their entirety).

Next week, we’ll be talking about Malinda Russell, a freed slave who authored the first African-American cookbook, published in 1866. In the mean time, find a reason to cook something “a la mode” this weekend…or you could settle for some ice cream and pie, if you prefer the modern use of the phrase.🙂

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