Putting the “Umble” in “Humble Pie?”

To conclude, and that I may not trespass too far on your Patience and good Nature, or take up too much of your Time from the more important Affairs of your Families, I hereby ingenuously acknowledge, that I have exerted all the Art and Industry I can boast of, in compleating this Pocket-Book, complied for your Service, and intended as your daily Remembrancer; and that I an not conscious to myself of having omitted one Article of any real Importance to be further known…

This morning, I had a plan.  A really good plan for today’s post and the idea to also prep one for next week (and see if I can get back on a weekly posting schedule after a busy last few months). While scanning materials for the second post, I discovered some new culinary history tidbits that were too good not to share today. So next week, I’ll tell you about our new agricultural ephemera collection. This week, we’re going back to the mid-18th century, to Sarah Harrison’s The house-keeper’s pocket-book, and compleat family cook : containing above twelve hundred curious and uncommon receipts in cookery, pastry, preserving, pickling, candying, collaring, &c., with plain and easy instructions for preparing and dressing every thing suitable for an elegant entertainment, from two dishes to five or ten, &c., and directions for ranging them in their proper order. First published somewhere in the late 1730s (probably, our recently acquired copy is the later 7th edition from 1760. The quote at the above comes from Harrison’s own introduction to the book.

tx705h37_1760_tp

Yes, another one of those books with a lengthy title that takes a whole page. (I”ll stick with The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book for the sake of my typing skills today.) Mrs. Harrison manages to pack of lot of information into 215 pages (plus another 36 for the added Every One Their Own Physician by Mary Morris).

tx705h37_1760_contents1 tx705h37_1760_contents2

Primarily, she provides recipes and suggested menus (bills of fare) for a year. Then, toward the end, we get a some of the more “housekeeping” or “household recipe” side of things: directions for removing stains, cleaning dishes, managing animals and livestock, and even a bit of distilling/brewing. Much in the British style, there is a significant section in the book on pies (not just the sweet, but the savory). And as chance would have it, I stumbled on to page 60 and the word “umbles.”

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While working this this culinary history materials here has provided this archivist quite an education, I, too, get stumped on occasion. For those of you who already know the word, kudos! For those of you bit less acquainted with the term, “umbles” refers to the organ meats of deer (and comes from the French “noumbles”). In this case, we have a recipe for “Umble Pie.” This recipe for “umble pie,” with its humble ingredients of deer innards, very likely led to the phrase “humble pie.” From dinner recipe to idiomatic expression in a single bound!

The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book also includes a few illustrations, like these plans for placing parts of a dinner course:

tx705h37_1760_110 (The small “L2” at the bottom of the page was used to help construct the book, whose pages would have been printed in large sheets, then folded, cut, and sewn together.)

It wouldn’t be culinary history if we didn’t talk about one of our favorite topics: pickling. In 1760 (and when the earlier editions of the book were written), this was a main method of preservation. So, you could (and would!) pickle just about everything. Below is one of the page spreads on the subject and includes some items we recognize today, as well as a couple of ingredients (or at least terms) that are a bit less so. tx705h37_1760_178“Codlins” (also codlings) refers to a family of apples with a particular shape, usually use for cooking. “Samphire” is a plant that grows on rocks near the sea. Its leaves were often used pickling.

Sarah Harrison’s book would go on to have several other editions after this 7th one, but eventually, it was a cookbook that became more rare or unique to collectors and collections. We were lucky and happy to acquire this copy several months ago and we hope some one of you take the opportunity to come use it, too! Sadly, it hasn’t been scanned in its entirety for public viewing, but that may be a future task for us to undertake. In the meantime, you can always send us your (h)umble queries on Mrs. Harrison’s work.

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Charles Fellows: Menu Maker…and Menu Collector!

This week, we’re looking at a title that had been on my running list of things to share on the blog. I don’t remember how it got on the list or indeed, how I came across the title in the first place, but, with more than 4,700 titles in the History of Food & Drink Collection, that can be the case a lot of the time. If you look at the catalog record for this week’s feature, it reads Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants… When you get to the title page, we may have a new competitor for longest title:

Fellows' Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants..., 1910
Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants…, 1910

So, that’s Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants, with Object of the Changing from Day to Day to Give Continuous Variety of Foods in Season. A Reminder for the Breakfast, Luncheon, Dinner, and Supper Cards, Together with Brief Notations of Interest to the Proprietor, Steward, Headwaiter and Chef. An Exposition of Catering Ideas Calculated to Popularize Public Dining Halls…A Chapter Devoted to the Most Popular Soups, Fish, Boiled Meats, Roasts and Entrees. Also a Department for Banquet Bills of Fare and Suggestions for Dinner Party Menus…The Book Supplemented with an Exposition of Menus and Editorial Matter Relating to Menu Compilation Reprinted from The Hotel Monthly.  

Fellows compiled a book that contained notes on menu planning from his experience combined with menus from other restaurants, short articles of food related interest, and even a few cartoons. On the whole, an interesting mix.

Although Fellows’ Menu Maker; Suggestions for Selecting Menus for Hotels & Restaurants… is the only of Fellows’ titles in our collection, he was the author of two other books: A Selection of Dishes and the Chef’s Reminder: A High Class Culinary Text Book and The Culinary Handbook. (On a side note, this Charles Fellows shouldn’t be confused with Sir Charles Fellows, an archaeologist and traveler who was somewhat more prolific, which WorldCat kept trying to do to me, when I well knew the difference!) Fellows did his research and must have reached out to many colleagues to solicit content.

While we don’t know much about its reception at the time, from a historical perspective, this book gives us all kinds of exciting background. It tells us about what restaurants were serving and how, it can give us a comparison between restaurants whose menus were printed here, it gives us insight into some business practices (there’s a short article about how to keep wait staff from “short checking,” for example), and it shows us an economic snapshot of different types of restaurants from the period. Plus, it’s just plain interesting!

Since it was published in 1910, it is out of copyright now. You can visit us to look at our copy, but if you’re not nearby, you can also find it online through Cornell University’s Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition and History (HEARTH). You know, for all your hotel menu planning needs. 🙂

Feeding en masse, 50 at a time!

2016 is off to a start and next week, our students return for the spring semester. Campus will be filling up with busy, hungry students. And there are a lot of them to feed. Of course the History of Food & Drink Collection has some advice on this topic! This week, we’re featuring Food for Fifty, a 1937 book with recipes for feeding groups of people. (Now, if we just multiply that by 142,200, we’ll reach the number of meals served by Dining Services on campus each year…)

As you may notice, it’s not just recipes. The book includes several pages of dictionary terms for cooking and foods, pages of cookery terms, a menu planning chapter, sections on how to best prepare ingredients, and some illustrations and photographs. However, there are plenty of recipes for every food group, too.

Food for Fifty was published and re-published with multiple editions: a 2nd edition in 1941 (in our collection), a 3rd edition in 1950 (in our collection) and a 5th edition in 1971. [I wasn’t able to find a date for the 4th edition.] It appears that, after a long absence, the book was adapted by new authors, and our collection also includes 3 editions of this version: 9th (1993), 10th (1997), and 11th (2001). Feeding crowds, whether in institutional settings or in more informal ones, has long been a trend in food history, and Food for Fifty isn’t our only example. If you check out the catalog record for the 1937 edition, you’ll see a subject heading “quantity cooking.” If you follow the subject heading down the rabbit hole, you’ll find we have 127 books in the libraries (25 of which reside in Special Collections) with that heading and more titles with similar or related headings. Some are aimed at specific types of quantity cooking, like for schools, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, community kitchens, or military. Others target a specific ingredient/set of ingredients like meat or baked goods, or focus on quantity cooking that’s cost-effective or for-profit in nature. In other words, there’s more than one reason and way to write a recipe book for quantity cooking.

So, whether you’re looking to fry frog legs for 50 or supply cake for 100 in your boarding house, keep in mind that Special Collections might just be the resource for you–and not just historically speaking. Some of the earlier publications may seem out of date in some ways (boarding houses are certainly less common in 2015 than in 1915), but that doesn’t mean we don’t all still want a slab of apple cobbler at our next family reunion. 🙂

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. 🙂

Meal Prep, Service, and…Design?

A title like How to Prepare and Serve a Meal: Interior Decoration had to catch our attention. After all, it’s food history related. But, in case you didn’t know, we are also the home to the International Archive of Women in Architecture. This group of manuscript collections and publications helps to document a field that wasn’t widely open to women until the last 40 years or so. You can read more about it here: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/iawa/. That being said, you can imagine how a book that combines these two areas might be of some interest to Special Collections. Written by Lillian B. Lansdown around 1922, this a household guide on two related subjects.

What’s interesting is that this publication almost feels like two books. There isn’t a real transition from the topic of meal planning to interior decoration, just the start of a new chapter. The decoration section is significantly smaller, and one wonders if it was sort of tacked on (perhaps it was too short a section to stand on its own?). It is cataloged as a culinary item, as opposed to a design one.

At the same time, this combination makes perfect sense for the time period. Both the kitchen and the home (management, order, and design) were considered part of the woman’s domestic sphere. I would guess we have more manuals like this on our shelves (and I know some of the large household management guides cover these and other topics), so I’ll be keeping an eye out for similar pieces in the future. They’re chock full of little lessons.

Happy meal planning and home decorating! Just remember: For afternoon teas, never use paper doilies (unless you have more than 100 visiting); Broken lines aren’t shouldn’t be part of permanent fixtures in a room; and drinking liquors in 1922 wasn’t illegal (so long as you found a way to legally obtain it…)

On Table Settings and Party Games

As the table of contents suggests, The Perfect Hostess covers a lot of bases: tableware, table settings/decor, menu planning, meal parties, and theme parties. I suspect 1946 was a popular year for entertaining, following the war. Since I am away at a conference this week (likely indulging in some good food!), I’m hoping the book will keep you all adequately amused…

With all the variety, I did chose to scan two specific types of pages: table decorations and settings and party games.

When it comes to table decor, we aren’t in new territory. We’ve seen strange arrangements with and without food, dolls and other figures, flowers, and candles. In The Perfect Hostess, we are given LOTS of details: which silver and plate settings one might want to own, how many candles a table should have at a formal event, the necessity for careful planning, sample menus, how to serve a multi-course dinner with only two trips to the kitchen…Many of these little details are the things that caught my attention. For example, when it comes to centerpieces:

Right: Few fruits chosen for their color relationship. Wrong: Too much fruit, too great a variety…Right: At least four candles tall enough to be out of the line of vision. Wrong: Only two candles, burned down so they shine in the guests’ eyes.

As regards this last point, we can only assume you must encourage your guests to eat quickly, before the candles burn down. Or hope for a lull in conversation while they burn at eye level.

While there are lots of details about creating table decor to match the party theme (and presumably you should own the tableware and linens to coordinate, as well), the “Special Decorations for Special Occasions,” I admit, sent me into some giggles (except for the clowns). I can’t decide if the Halloween scarecrows are involved  in an interpretive dance or if they’re just stepping over fallen corn. Who has this many wooden or porcelain dolls, waiting to be re-purposed for seasonal and themed displays? And if you are throwing a Mother Goose party, do you have artificial turf on hand, or do you dig up the lawn? Maybe that’s part of a game…

We haven’t talked too much about party games yet. We have a new acquisition for the cocktail collection that includes some drinking games, but this is the first discussion of party games for adults. But, as author Nancy Prentiss informs us:

Time was when party games were restricted to the teen-age group but grown-ups are rediscovering them as a sure fire method to keep a party going. In the following group you should find enough ammunition to pep up even the dullest affairs.

I’m not sure what kinds of the games the teen-agers were playing in 1946, but watch out for these grown ups! Card games, musical chairs (with music played on the piano–non piano owners, this may not be the game for you!), scavenger hunts, celebrity quizzes and more!

The post this week is a little indulgence in social history. While our party games may not be the same and our table decorations a little less creepy, the spirit is the same: A few guests and some good food can make for a pleasant evening. And if you’re lucky, those guests will be sure to compliment your exquisite taste in tableware and linens or your choice of games. Besides, even a game of “Know Yourself” is all in good fun…right?

The New Art & Convenience in the Kitchen

Convenience and efficiency are a common theme in the collection here. Growing middle classes in the late 19th and into the 20th century meant women were responsible for managing the kitchen and preparing food. In 1934, the General Electric Kitchen Institute offered this handy little home helper: The New Art of Buying, Preserving, and Preparing Foods. The book includes tips for home management, advice for how to modernize your kitchen, recipes and meal planning, and details on how to use modern appliances to improve feeding one’s family (especially the refrigerator, the range/over, the electric mixer, and the dishwasher).

“The most important room in the home has now become the most enjoyable. No longer is the modern woman tied down to monotonous hours of kitchen routine. Magic electric servants work for her, giving her new joyous hours of freedom–hours she can spend in any way she chooses.” The G-E Kitchen Institute was even offering personalized directions on how to modernize kitchens for women who sent a sketch of their current set up!

The book includes suggested menus for all kinds of meals, from family dinners to entertaining at a bridal shower, as well as recipes for every course. But there is an emphasis on convenience and speed (“Today in over 1,000,000 American homes, electric cookery does in minutes the work that hours did in years gone by”). There is a whole section on oven meals, in which the whole dinner goes into the oven and finishes at the same time. Many things can now be done in advance and stored in your refrigerator! Leftovers won’t be wasted, either! And the dishwasher will keep your hands out of that dirty water! A few of the recipes may make you wonder (like many of those in our collection) just who thought onions rolled in bread and spread with mayonnaise resulted in a tasty canape or chopped chicken needed to be embedded in gelatin, but that’s always what makes this collection and these publications special. They offer us a window in a food past we don’t see today.

It’s a bit challenging to pigeon-hole this publication into a single category. It isn’t just a cookbook, an advertisement for GE appliances, or a household manual. Rather, it’s a creative melding of all three–which is one of other reasons to highlight it this week. We’re gradually starting to think about our culinary collection in a new way here at Special Collections. Instead of defining it simply in terms of formats (books, manuscripts, educational kits, electronic resources, etc.), we’re trying to imagine it in terms of topics. While that could potentially be a long list, we’re noticing there are some distinct themes among existing holdings: receipts & recipes (including home remedies); dietetics, education/home economics & nutrition (children and adults); household management & social history; technology, food processing & preservation; and entertaining & the history of the cocktail.

We’ll be sharing more about some of these themes on the blog in the weeks to come, as well as serving up our usual fare of recipes, history, and a little gentle fun, so be sure to stick with us.