A Monday Morning Recipe (#4)

It’s National Cheese Fondue Day! (Seriously, there’s a food holiday for a lot of things that might surprise you…) As a result, it only seems fair to share a few fondue recipes. These come courtesy of the Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library from 1971. There’s actually a whole section of cards on fondue, about 1/3 of which are cheese-related. Here are a couple of highlights:
20160411_10332120160411_103340

Beer Me! (After all, it’s National Beer Day!)

Today is National Beer Day–And, for good reason! It’s the 83rd anniversary of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which was enacted on March 21 and signed by FDR on March 22. This 1933 piece of Congressional legislation provided for the sale of beer (or wine!) with an alcohol content of 3.2%. Last year, we talked about the act in a bit more detail, and I won’t go back into it today. The important part is that it signaled a change in the air (and the glasses) throughout the nation. So, this week, I found two pieces of beer-related ephemera. While we aren’t entirely sure when they are from, it’s definitely after 1933, so both of these pamphlets owe their legacy to Mssrs. Cullen and Harrison.

The first is “Carling: The Story of Brewing,” from the Carling Brewing Company in Ohio (not to be confused with the larger, multi-national Carling Brewery), which began in 1934. See, it all comes back to Prohibition–and, in this case, the inability to sell cars during the Depression. The building had been a car manufacturing plant that proved less-than-successful in the early 1930s and the plant was converted to a brewery instead, under the name Brewery Corp. of America. The name changed to the Carling Brewing Company in 1954, suggesting that our pamphlet hails from the mid-1950s or later. It’s a short pamphlet about the process of brewing and is essentially like a modern “FAQ” section on beer.

Our second pamphlet also likely comes from the 1950s, “Food for Entertaining: Better with Beer.” Published by the American Can Company, it includes meal plans that go well with beer and recipes for many of the dishes (some of which are beer-based). The corporate emphasis here is on the can and its design and in fact, the recipes and advice all generically reference using “beer” or “ale,” without a nod to a particular brand or style. As long as you’re buying something, I guess?

While your archivist/blogger is off at a conference next week, presenting and taking in the food/cocktails of a city I’ve never visited before, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a post I’m preparing this week about a newly-acquired piece of advertising ephemera (I must be on an ephemeral roll?) for a very different sort of beverage.

For today, though, don’t forget to raise a glass to the forward-thinking of two men and the beginning of the end of Prohibition. Cheers!

Women’s History Month, Part 17: Susannah Carter (fl.1765)

Since there are FIVE Thursdays in March this year, you’re getting a bonus gift: Another women’s history month profile!

We only have one book at the University Libraries by Susannah Carter, The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook: Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands, with Cleanliness, Decency, and Elegance, is Explained in Five Hundred Approved Receipts…to Which are Added, Various Bills of Fare, and a Proper Arrangement of Dinners, Two Courses, for Every Month of the Year.  Of course, there’s a good reason we only have one book–it’s the only one she wrote…sort of. On the surface, it’s not as clear as a good broth. The thing about The Frugal Housewife is that is appeared on both sides of the pond with variant titles, most of which have either the same subtitle, or at least part of the same subtitle. Yes, it’s bit confusing, but there’s quite a story to come. But first, the book!!

Oh, and apologies for the use of pictures that includes weights this week. Our 1802 text block is wonderful condition. It was rebound, probably some time in the last 75 years. This will help to continue to preserve the text, but it’s also a very tight binding and using a flat surface (aka a scanner) would be detrimental to the book. I had to get creative.

So, back to the story of this book’s many titles. For example, you might also see The Universal Housewife: or, Complete New Book of Cookery. Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands, with Cleanliness, Decency, and Elegance, is Explained in Five Hundred Approved New Receipts, … Together with the Best Methods of Potting, Collaring, Preserving, Drying, Candying, and Pickling. To which are Prefixed, Various Bills of Fare, for Dinners and Suppers in Every Month of the Year; and a Copious Index to the Whole (1770), which was the first version of the book. Or, there’s The Experienced Cook, and Housekeeper’s Guide. Giving the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands, with Cleanliness, Decency, and Elegance, is Explained in Five Hundred Approved New Receipts. With the Best Methods of Potting, Collaring, Preserving, Drying, Candying, Pickling, Making English Wines, and Distilling of Simples, with Twelve New Prints for the Arrangement of Dinners of Two Courses, for Every Month of the Year, etc. (1850).

Let’s take a step back for a moment. The first edition of The Universal Housewife probably appeared around 1765 in London and Dublin. The first appearance of the text in America was in Boston in 1772. This early colonial version included engraving by Paul Revere (how cool is that??). Variations on The Frugal Housewife title began as early as 1772. The only versions of The Experienced Cook and Housekeeper’s Guide variants appear to have been published in 1850. While we know nothing about the life of Susannah Carter, she was probably deceased by then. Assuming that she was at least 20 when the first edition came out in 1765, in 1850, she would have been 105 years old. These variants were not always the same book, as some elements were improved upon or edited for different versions. The year after our 1802, another edition was published in America that contains a whole new appendix of receipts specifically for the “American mode of cooking” (both processes and ingredients). Why all the changes? That’s a hard question to answer, but there were probably a lot of factors. Many hands go into writing, editing, printing, and publishing a volume like this, and many people might have been inclined to take liberties with a text. It may have been an attempt to appeal to different audiences, too.

There’s another reason we’re looking at Susannah Carter’s book this week, too. And it has a lot to do with some of the previous posts in this series. The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook was extremely influential in America. Remember Amelia Simmons and American Cookery, or the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plum to Plain Cake: Adapted to this Country, and All Grades of Life (1796)? Part of that title might look familiar now. As it turns out, entire passages of American Cookery came from The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook. (Copyright and publishing was a different business in the late 18th century!) The 1803 appendix to the American edition of The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook that I mentioned? That same appendix appears in an 1805 edition of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery. And it is probably not original to Carter. It appears to have been translated from a Swedish text called Rural Oeconomy. And, to further complicate things, as you may recall, in 1829, Lydia Maria Child authored a cookbook called The Frugal Housewife. Child’s book was published in different editions America and the UK, which, as you might expect, let to even more confusion. In 1832, under pressure, she changed the title to The American Frugal Housewife (though the old title didn’t disappear abroad until after 1834). This book has quite a history to it, right?

You can view the 1803 American edition of The Frugal Housewife at the Michigan State University Libraries’ Feeding America project, complete with the Swedish translated appendix. You can also see an 1823 London edition through the Internet Archive.

We’ll be back with another post next week. In the meantime, though, remember to make your gravies and sauces a priority. They are, after all,the “chief excellence of all Cookery!”

Women’s History Month, Part 16: Hannah Glasse (1708-1770)

In 1747, the first edition of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy was published in London. By 1800, it had been issued in more than 20 editions and it was a staple cookbook and household manual into the 1840s. Since the 1970s, it has also been republished with new introductions and in different formats. Our copy in Special Collections is the 6th edition, “with very large editions,” published in 1758. (You can see a scanned version of the 1747 edition online.) Hannah’s lofty title aside, she did include some unique recipes (turnip wine), techniques, and opinions (she seems to have been quite against French influence in English cooking).

The other edition we have of the book in Special Collections is a 1976 reprint of the 1796 edition. This reprint appears in 10 separate volumes, housed in a single box. So, the major chapters of the early print editions here become individual volumes.

Hannah had an interesting life filled with alternating successes and failures. Between some contradicting details, it’s a bit unclear if she was born to her father’s wife or to another woman with whom he may have had a relationship. Regardless, she was born in 1708. In 1724, she married an Irish soldier named John Glasse. They had 11 children, 5 of whom survived to adulthood. He died in 1747, the same year The Art of Cookery was published. It appears, despite the book’s success, Glasse spent several months in debtors’ prison during 1757, but she published her third book before the end of that year. Little is known about the final years of her life, but she died in London in 1770, leaving a legacy of recipes, common sense advice, and economical cooking behind.

Bibliography of Hannah Glasse publications at the University Libraries (items in Special Collections are in bold):

  • The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy: Which Far Exceeds Any Thing of the Kind Yet Published…To Which are Added, by way of an Appendix, One Hundred and Fifty New and Useful Receipts, and a Copious Index to This and All the Octavo Editions. London : Printed for the Author …, 1758. 6th. ed., with very large additions.
  • The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. With a new introduction by Fanny Cradock. Hamden, Conn., Archon Books, 1971.
  • The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. Richmond, Va. : Randolph Carter Williams, c1976.

Of course, The Art of Cookery wasn’t the only household book that Glasse wrote. She also authored titles like The Compleat Confectioner; or, The Whole Art of Confectionary Made Plain and Easy (1755) and The Servants Directory: or, House-Keepers Companion (1757). While Hannah Glasse wasn’t the most prolific of the many cookbook authors we talk about on the blog, she was extremely influential during in England and her threads run through the culinary culture that was developing in America during her time and into the decades that followed.

Our final Women’s History Month profile of 2016 is coming up next week (already??), where we’ll look at Susannah Carter and The Frugal Housewife. Until then, take a note from Hannah and remember: It doesn’t take 6 lbs of butter to fry 12 eggs. You can do it with 1/2 lb just as easily.

A Monday Morning Recipe (#3)

Happy Monday! For this Monday Morning Recipe post, I found something interesting (perhaps more so for what it is, rather than the contents itself, but still…). There are many ways to think of cookbooks: as a tool, as a family memoir, or as an artifact. Some books, like Aunt Caroline’s Dixieland Recipes by Emma and William McKinney (1922), can be all three. This cookbook included blank pages for people to add their own recipes, as this former owner did, recording a recipe for “Hot Milk Cake.” It’s a gray, bordering on rainy (or soon to be rainy) morning in Blacksburg and this actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all!

Picture1

Women’s History Month, Part 13: Marion Harris Neil

Welcome to Women’s History Month 2016! As with previous years, this month we’ve got a whole new series of profiles lined up. But first, a quick message from our sponsors–Us!

Your archivist/blogger Kira and two of her amazing colleagues, Laurel and Sam, are working on some Women’s History Month displays. We have a digital exhibit that went live yesterday, which you can see here: https://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/exhibits/show/womens-history-2016. (Spoiler alert: there IS some History of Food & Drink material in it!). We’re also in the process of switching content in our reading room display cases AND setting up two other cases on the first floor of the library along with a touch screen monitor for the digital display. We hope you’ll check out one or both exhibits. (And hey, if you’re coming to the talk next week, “Cookery, Cocktails, Chores, and Cures: Food History in Special Collections,” you’ll already be here!)

…Back to our regularly scheduled blogging! This week we’re looking at the works of Marion Harris Neil. I say “works” for a very specific reason. Normally, I tried to include some biographical information in my aptly-named “profiles.” But Marion is a mystery. A prolific, prolific mystery. Census records from the eras during which she wrote include plenty of “Marion Neils,” but with no clues to go on, it’s hard to narrow things down. Her books and publications are often product-based, so the focus is on the company and the food, not the woman. Unlike some of our other authors, there are no biographical hints in prefaces or introductory pages. Still, she had plenty to say on the topic of food:

You can read about the 1917 edition of Ryzon Baking Book: A Practical Manual for the Preparation of Food Requiring Baking Powder in a previous blog post and you can view the 1914 edition of The Story of Crisco on the Special Collections digital collections website.

Marion Harris Neil Bibliography (items in bold are held by Special Collections):

  • “The Minute Man Cook Book.” 1909. [Alternate title: “The Minute Man A Brief Account of the Battles of Lexington and Concord by Wayne Whipple with Recipes for Minute Tapioca, Minute Gelatine (Plain) and Minute Gelatine (Flavored) by Janet McKenzie Hill, Marion H. Neil, Ella A. Pierce, and other culinary authorities.”] In the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002.
  • Alcono Cook Book. Newark, N.Y., J.M. Pitkin & Co., 1910.
  • Choice Recipes Requiring “True Fruit” Brand: Pure Flavoring Extracts. Rochester, N.Y.: J. Hungerford Smith Co., [1912?]
  • How to Cook in Casserole Dishes. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1912. (Multiple editions)
  • Good Thing to Eat Made with Bread. New York: Fleischmann Co., 1913. (Multiple editions)
  • Candies and Bonbons and How to Make Them. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1913. (Multiple editions)
  • Canning, Preserving and Pickling. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1914. (Multiple editions)
  • “The Story of Crisco: 250 Tested Recipes.” 1913. In the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002.
  • Cox’s Manual of Gelatine Cookery. 5th American ed. Edinburgh, Scotland: J. & G. Cox, Limited, [1914]. (Previous post on a broadside advertisement for this company)
  • Delicious Recipes Made with Mueller’s Products. Jersey City, N.J. : C.F. Mueller Co., 1914.
  • The Story of Crisco: 250 Tested Recipes. 5th ed. Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., c1914. (Multiple editions) (Available online)
  • A Calendar of Dinners with 615 Recipes: Including the Story of Crisco.8th ed. Cincinnati : Proctor & Gamble Co., c1915.
  • The Something-Different Dish. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1915
  • Ryzon Baking Book: A Practical Manual for the Preparation of Food Requiring Baking Powder.  New York, General Chemical Company, Food Dept., 1916.(Multiple editions)
  • Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Dish Recipes. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1916. (Multiple editions)
  • Dromedary War-Time Recipes: Appetizing and Economical Dishes Made with Dromedary Food Products. [New York?]: Hills Bros. Co., 1917.
  • Favorite Recipes Cook Book: A Complete Culinary Guide. New York: F.M. Lupton, 1917. (Multiple editions)
  • Good Things to Eat: A Selection of Unusual Recipes for Those who Appreciate Good Things to Eat. San Francisco, Calif.: California Packing Corp., 1917.
  • Ryzon Baking Book: A Practical Manual for the Preparation of Food Requiring Baking Powder.  New York, General Chemical Company, Food Dept., 1917.  (Previous blog post)
  • Economical Cookery. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1918.
  • Sixty-Five Delicious Dishes Made with Bread: Containing Tested Recipes Compiled for the Fleischmann Co. New York: Fleischmann Co., 1919.
  • The Thrift Cook Book. Philadelphia: D. McKay, 1919. (Multiple editions)
  • 40 Unique Dromedary Cocoanut Recipes. [New York]: Hills Bros. Co., [192-?]
  • 43 Delicious Ways of Serving McMenamin’s Crab Meat. Hampton, Va.: McMenamin & Co., [192-?]
  • Auto Vacuum Ice Cream Freezer Recipes. New York: Auto Vacuum Freezer Co., 1920.
  • Delicious Recipes. [Fresno, Calif.]: [California Peach Growers, Inc.], [1920?]
  • A Calendar of Dinners, with 615 Recipes. Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., c1921. (Multiple editions)
  • A Modern Manual of Cooking. Cincinnati, Procter & Gamble Co., 1921.
  • Mrs. Neil’s Cooking Secrets: and, the Story of Crisco. Cincinnati: Procter & Gamble Co., 1924. (Multiple editions)
  • “Mrs. Harland’s Cooking Secrets.” [Crisco.] 1925. In the Culinary Pamphlet Collection, Ms2011-002.

Neil also published in Table Talk, a long running home economics and cooking periodical, and wrote or edited numerous other pamphlets and ephemeral publications that aren’t likely captured by catalog records. I’ll also mention that many of the publications above (and the others) are available online through the Internet Archive, HathiTrust, and/or Google Books. You’ll just have to go looking for them!

With an extra Thursday this March, you can expect four more profiles, and I promise, they won’t all be about women of the food world shrouded in quite so many shadows. For now, you’ll just have to let Marion’s recipes speak for her.

Women’s History Month, Prequel #1: Just What Does Mrs. Fisher Know?

It’s hard to believe it, but March is almost here. As a transition post to move us from Black History Month to Women’s History Month, I thought this week, we might talk about Mrs. Fisher. In 1881, the Women’s Co-Operative Printing Office in San Francisco published What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking.

What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking, 1995 reprint title page

What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking, 1995 reprint title page

What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking, 1881 title page

What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking, 1881 title page

A couple of weeks ago, while talking about Rufus Estes, I rambled on a bit about the question of authority in cookbooks. Abby Fisher’s book also includes an introduction. It partially addresses her qualifications. And, like Malinda Russell’s A Domestic Cook Book Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen, also gives us some insight into Mrs. Fisher herself:

The publication of a book on my knowledge and experience of Southern Cooking, Pickle and Jelly Making, has been frequently asked of me by my lady friends and patrons in San Francisco and Oakland, and also by ladies of Sacramento during the State Fair in 1879. Not being able to read or write myself, and my husband also having been with the advantages of education–upon whom would devolve the writing of the book at my dictation–caused me to doubt whether I would be able to present a work that would give perfect satisfaction. But, after due consideration, I concluded to bring forward a book of my knowledge–based on an experience of upwards of thirty-five years–in the art of cooking Soups, Gumbos, Terrapin Stews, Meat Stews, Baked and Roast Meats, Pastries, Pies and Biscuits, making Jellies, Pickles, Sauces, Ice-Creams and Jams, preserving Fruits, etc. The book will be found a complete instructor, so that a child can understand it and learn the art of cooking.

Respectfully,

MRS. ABBY FISHER,

Late of Mobile, Ala.

While the publication location and the introduction itself suggest Mrs. Fisher has, for some time, been located in California, she is careful to continue to align herself with the American South, too, being “Late of Mobile, Ala.” and in which kinds of recipes she extols her expertise, including gumbo, terrapin, and biscuits. If you peruse the table of contents, you’ll see other familiar Southern dishes like fried chicken, Creole soup, corn fritters, and a sea of pickles and relishes. A few of the recipes include commentary (“I have given birth to eleven children and raised them all, and nursed them with this diet” or “This recipe is an old Southern plantation remedy among colored people”) which again remind us of her history and her culinary roots.

But, at the same time, she offers us some items and methods you might not expect, given that we’re talking about recipes that date back to the 1840s at least. Home ice cream makers were decades away in 1846 (though they were on the horizon in 1881), but Mrs. Fisher presents us with techniques for ice cream and sherbet. Her “Coccoanut Pie” requires actual coconut, an ingredient available to in the South as an import from the West Indies. While coconut was available in colonial America, it probably didn’t travel well and was likely more common in the South.  And her recipes tell us a lot about the mid-19th century food timeline. She incorporates Cox gelatin (Snow Pudding, 110), a commercial product from Scotland that the producers began exporting to America only in 1845. (Commercial, granulated gelatin wouldn’t be mass produced in America until the 1890s.) Nor does she shy away from alcohol, offering variations on brandy peaches and blackberry brandy.

Unfortunately for us, we don’t have an 1881 edition of What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking (though it IS on our wishlist), but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy looking at one! The digital collection at Michigan State University has a copy that includes page images, transcripts, and a PDF. Or, you can visit us and view our 1995 reprint, of course. It may not have that “old book” smell, but it most certainly serves as a reminder of Mrs. Fisher’s legacy.

A Monday Morning Recipe (#2)

Good morning! It’s post #2 in our new “Monday Morning Recipe” series. This week, it’s all about the mince pies:

Pages from TX715.R94_1816

From: Rundell, Maria Eliza Keelby. A New System of Domestic Cookery: Formed Upon Principles of Economy. London: John Murray, 1816. Full text available online: https://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/HFDBooks/TX715.R94_1816.

Soul Food, Soul Food Cookbook Sampler

Continuing on some of our Black History Month theme, I thought this week I’d offer a “soul food sampler.” Our collection contains a variety of African-American contributions to food history, but not, perhaps as we might like. There are a number of particular items on our wish list for the History of Food & Drink Collection which would help to remedy that. Plus, we’re always on the look out for new known and unknown items that might help, too. One area in which we have at least several handfuls of books is on the topic of “soul food.” These are relatively recent publications–for a collection that dates back to the 1690s, anyway–from the 1960s and 1970s, but this was a time of renewed interest in African-American food culture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The books in the slideshow include:

  • Kaiser, Inez Yeargen. 1968. Soul Food Cookery. Rev. ed. New York: Pitmab. Corp.
  • Griffin, Hattie Rhinehart. 1969. Soul-Food Cookbook. A Hearthstone book. New York: Carltoess.
  • Jeffries, Bob. 1970. Soul Food Cookbook.Indialis: Bobbs-Merrill Co.
  • Waddles, Charleszetta. 1970. The Mother Waddles Soul Food Cookbook. 2d ed. Detroit: Perpetual Soul Saving Mission for All Nations.

If you’re curious about some other African-American culinary history books in our collection, you can see a list of some items online. This is a particular list based on a search I put together, and I heartily encourage you to explore the catalog and collection on your own, too!

On a final note this week, for those of you in Blacksburg, there’s an event this weekend that could of interest…if you can get a seat! The Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation and the Odd Fellows Committee are hosting a “Soul Food Sampling.” I’d be surprised if there’s room left, but it certainly can’t hurt to ask.

Wondering What’s Good to Eat? Rufus Estes Has Some Answers!

February is Black History Month. If you’re in Blacksburg and have a chance to drop by the library, one my collegues has put together an amazing display of materials in our reading room. The exhibit highlights African-American contributions from many our main collecting areas, as well as to university history. Some of my favorite past posts I’ve written include ones on John B. Goins’ The American WaiterS. Thomas Bivens’ The Southern Cookbook: A Manual of Cooking and List of Menus including Recipes used by Noted Colored Cooks and Prominent Caterers, and the Women’s History Month profile last March on Malinda Russell and A Domestic Cook Book Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen. This week, I found something else I’ve never looked at before: Good Things to Eat, as Suggested by Rufus; A Collection of Practical Recipes for Preparing Meats, Game, Fowl, Fish, Puddings, Pastries, etc., written by Rufus Estes and published in 1911.

In a recent instruction session, I was talking with students about the idea of authority and food history materials. There are some really interesting question when it comes to cookbooks: What does “authority” mean? What makes (or doesn’t make) a writer an authority on the recipes they create and write? Does authority (or a lack thereof) affect how a cookbook might have been accepted in its own time? Does authority (or a lack thereof) affect how we look at a historic cookbook today and whether or not we accept is a good source of information? When we’re investigating cookbooks and food history primary sources, does authority even matter? Answering all of these would probably lead to an exceptionally long blog post–and, of course, as we say in the archival world, “it depends.” We might considered different cookbooks in different ways, depending on different factors. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t comment a bit on the concept of authority in conjunction with Good Things to Eat, as Suggested by Rufus. Especially since Rufus Estes very much invites us to do so, by beginning his book with a biographical sketch.

Good Things to Eat, 1911. Author's biography.

Good Things to Eat, 1911. Author’s biography.

Rufus Estes very carefully sets up his authority as a chef in the first few pages of his cookbook. He wants us to know where he comes from, what he has done, and, by default, what may have influenced him. Of course, in theory, this whole biography could be fake and Estes could have just been an identity. The idea of a constructed person to market or sell a book or products isn’t new. But, in this case, there are records and evidence to prove Estes was a real person and held the positions he tells us about (and those he doesn’t). He gives us his background to show his readers that he does, in fact, know a thing or two about being a chef. When we’re talking cookbooks, does one need to be a chef to be an authority? Certainly not. And my saying I accept Estes’ biography as giving him authority as an cookbook writer doesn’t mean we would all agree on that.  It’s just interesting to consider.

It’s also worth pointing out that having a biography is not unique to Estes. Malinda Russell included some information her life, as did Abby Fisher in What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking (a book we’ll talk about a little later this month). Mary Randolph talks about her expertise in The Virginia Housewife. Other authors rely on introductions written by seemingly well-known people in their own time to lend weight to a writer’s authority, reliability, and even like-ability. And we still see this as a common practice in books today, culinary-related or otherwise.

You can read a little more about this book and view the entire item online through the Michigan State University’s “Feeding America” project–which, if you haven’t looked at before, you should take a moment to peruse! And next time you start preparing a recipe from your favorite cookbook (or a new one), you might take a minute to think about who the author is, why they wrote the book, and why their recipes appeal to you. Even when we’re not aware of it, a writer’s “authority” may be at work!

%d bloggers like this: