From Tiny Books to Chunky Books

You may recall A Tiny Post on Some Tiny Books that we shared last October, when we acquired three tiny books, one each on salads, sandwiches, and chafing dish recipes. The post ended with a note about the elusive 4th volume in the quartet, The Tiny Book on Cocktails. I’m happy to report that it took a couple of months, but we’ve had success…sort of. Each of the four volumes were published individually in 1905, but finding a copy of The Tiny Book on Cocktails is tricky, as they are few and far between. However, we were able to purchase a rare version of all four books, published together, alternately titled, The Chunky Book.

The Chunky Book spine
The Chunky Book spine

The Chunky Book front cover. The book used to have a strap.
The Chunky Book front cover. The book used to have a strap.

The Chunky Book side view. Yes, it really is chunky!
The Chunky Book side view. Yes, it really is chunky!

The majority of The Chunky Book consists of the three volumes we already have (The Tiny Book on Salads, The Tiny Book on Sandwiches, and The Tiny Book on Chafing Dishes), each one divided by a few blank pages. The last part, however, is our new addition: The Tiny Book on Cocktails. There are some that may seem familiar, some that are forgotten in today’s modern cocktail age, and some that just make you wonder. There’s a table of contents and a short introduction on cocktails and ingredients, with the following note: “A cocktail should never be bottled and should always be made at the time of drinking. A bottled cocktail might be likened unto a depot sandwich–neither are fit for use except in cases of necessity.” While not a unique perspective, it makes an interesting contrast to the work of some other early cocktail book authors, who often have recipes for bottling mixes. 

If you were to spend a little more time looking through the recipes, you’ll notice a trend of certain ingredients, namely gin, whiskey, and brandy, along with wine-based aperitifs, bitters, and lemon peel. Lots of lemon peel. There are other, more unique ingredients–specific types of rum or liqueurs, for example–but gin, whiskey, and brandy were at the core of cocktail culture in early 20th century America, so we shouldn’t be surprised. (Rum was gaining ground, but vodka was still decades away from filling the American market and glass.)

In any case, The Chunky Book makes for fun perusing, if you’d like to stop by and swap sandwich, salad, hot dish, OR cocktail recipes. And until next week, cheers and eat well!

A Tiny Post on Some Tiny Books

Cookbooks come in all sizes, and sometimes, in a variety of shapes (last year, we posted a book shaped like a cocktail shaker). This week, we’re talking size. It’s a tiny post on some tiny books! Just last month, we acquired three little books (and when we say little, we’re not kidding!). For scale, we’ve photographed one next to a standard paperclip:

Our three books are each devoted to one type of recipe. There’s The Tiny Book on SaladsThe Tiny Book on Sandwiches, and The Tiny Book on Chafing Dishes. All three were published in 1905 by the Livermore & Knight Co. in Providence, Rhode Island. Each book has sections for different main ingredients and you’ll see a combination of common and, by modern standards, uncommon recipes.

The first question many people ask when they first see these books is “why?” Is there a point to a cookbook this small? Or was is more a gimmick? We don’t have a clear answer. Despite the size, the font is surprisingly readable (which can often be the case with small books) and the recipes are simple, practical, and, for the most part, likely very tasty. The small size would make the books easy to store in a apron pocket (though good luck keeping track of them on a traditional bookshelf!).

Research suggests there are two more books in the series, The Tiny Book on Candies and The Tiny Book on Cocktails. We’ll keep our eyes open for these additional gems and hope you will, too! In the meantime, we invite you to visit us and check out the three we have on hand. We think you’ll get a kick out of them.