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Book Review: The Art of Cookery, Made Plain And Easy:

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By Hannah Glasse
ISBN 978-1142689940  | Paperback 442 Pages
 

To Which Are Added One Hundred and Fifty New Receipts, a Copious Index, and a Modern Bill of Fare for Each month in Manner the Dishes Are Placed Upon the Table

 

Yes, the above forms part of the title - got to be one of the longest book titles ever !

 

This is a rather unusual review inasmuch as this book is a facsimile (like a photocopy) of a very old cookery book written by Hannah Glasse back in 1747.  There seems to be no copyright issues with regards to this book which isn't that surprising considering its age plus the fact that the recipes have mostly been superseded with modern ingredients and methods and are written in a style which is somewhat difficult to understand in places.

 

For this reason I haven't read every single recipe (yet) as I would normally do with any new cookbook I get, however I have come across commentary on the internet implying that some of the recipes may not work due the speed with which the book was written with suggestions that some of the recipes were just made up and used as fillers.

You may be wondering why I bought this book, especially as this version isn't particularly cheap. I had my memory jogged about it whilst researching Pound Cakes, but I have known about Hannah Glasse for many years, in particular the fact that she has been credited for giving what was known as batter pudding the modern day name  - Yorkshire Pudding.  I did find that recipe in this book and found it to be very similar to what we cook today, unlike her version of pound cakes which required the mixture to be beaten for an hour as mentioned in the above pound cake article.

The book covers all types of recipes from savoury to sweet and has basic recipes such as roasting fowl and meat to more complicated recipes including cakes, black pudding/sausages, pickles, pies and some desserts - some of which have obvious modern day versions - and makes for an interesting study as to which ingredients were available at the time.

There are other chapters which cover slightly unusual areas such as Chapter XI. For Captains of Ships ; how to make all uſeful Things for a Voyage ; and ſetting out a Table on board a Ship which includes directions on how to make ketchup which will keep for 20 years,  Chapter XX. Of Diſtilling which includes how to make plague water, Chapter XXI. How to market; the Seaſon of the Year for Butchers Meat, Poultry, Fiſh, Herbs, Roots, and Fruit.   and Chapter XXII. A certain Cure for the Bite of a Mad Dog - which includes various remedies for things such as keeping bedsteads clear from Bugs and against the plague.

 

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This version also has an appendix containing lots more recipes which was first added in the fifth edition

Although Hannah was English and the book was first published in England, it went on to travel the pond and became a very popular and necessary cookery book there too  and is one of the most important references for culinary practice in England and the American colonies during the latter half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th.

If, like me, your interest in food doesn't stop at cooking or reading about modern food, then I think you will find this book of interest - it might even give you some "new" ideas.

 

    By Florence Sandeman, Editor/Publisher

 

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