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Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats Paperback – May 6, 1996


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Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats + The First American Cookbook: A Facsimile of "American Cookery," 1796
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Karen Loft Hess[1] (November 11, 1918 - May 15, 2007) was an American culinary historian. Her 1977 book The Taste of America co-authored with her late husband, John L. Hess, established them as anti-establishment members of the culinary world.

In 1985, Hess became one of the founding members of The Culinary Historians of New York, an association of food professionals, historians, and others interested in studying and writing on the history of food. On October 19, 2004, The Culinary Historians of New York presented her with their first annual Amelia Award, an award which recognizes excellence in culinary history.In 2006, she was listed in the eighth annual Saveur 100, from Saveur Magazine, in an article by Shane Mitchell entitled "The Grandest Dame of American Culinary History". Mitchell says that although Hess came from Nebraska, her "soul must be Southern." Hess's The Carolina Rice Kitchen is the story of how rice from Africa became a South Carolina Low Country staple, as well as how the African cooks shaped Southern cooking.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 518 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; Reprint edition (April 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231049315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231049313
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Iannuzzo on December 16, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a jewel. Being a 16th-17th century reenactor, I would not have thought that Martha Washington's cookbook would have become such a favorite of mine. The annotations by Karen Hess make it invaluable to anyone interested in historical cookery from the Elizabethan age onwards, and it is a darned good read, informative and fun even if you aren't. This is the book I will give someone who thinks they might possibly be vaguely interested in historical cookery and would like to learn more. It is very well-researched and there is something to learn on every page. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Costa on August 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the historical food researcher's answer to Oprah's "AHH HAA" moments in your life! Sit back and let MS. Hess fill you full of delight as you find out exactly where and how gingerbread got its beginnings and why do we call turkey, well, turkey. The amount of historic research and information is a true goldmine for one serious in their food history or for the novice who would just love to know where all our food preferences comes from. I am a teacher of historic foodways and tell each and every one of my students to start here first! You won't be disapointed.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By JO Holloway on February 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
I don't suppose we can say it too often but Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery was owned by Martha but wasn't written by her.
What we have here are two culinary manuscripts that are Tudor-Jacobean (recipes dated circa 1580-1625) that were passed
down in the family of Martha Washington's first husband. Martha rec'd the manuscripts when
she married Daniel Custis in 1749. She kept the two manuscripts until she gave them to Nelly
Custis, her granddaughter in 1799.
The book is titled the way it is because mentioning Martha Washington
draws attention to the volume and she was the most famous of the owners.
(One should ignore the picture of George eating a cherry that appears on the paperback edition. He had nothing to do with the book.)

The late Karen Hess transcribed the manuscripts and added helpful notes and commentary. One thing Hess did was
mention contemporary Elizabethan recipes that are similar to the ones in the manuscripts.
So she often refers to Markham, Plat, Dawson, etc.
The manuscripts are
'A Booke of Cookery' which has 206 recipes while 'A Booke of Sweetmeats' has 326 recipes.
All in all a great book to own for not only the recipes but for the bibliography and all the notes.
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By Chas Perry on June 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was originally hand written and handed down as a wedding gift to Martha upon her marriage to Daniel Parke Custis. The booke was written in the 1600's so the ingredients are a problem today but the recipes are much cherished by descendants and cook book collectors.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By random shopper on January 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is such a great book and a must have piece of history. I received it as a gift and loved it so much that I bought a copy for my mom as a gift. She loves it too!
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By A. Murphy on July 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
Good book well laid out.
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