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This facsimile of the first American-written cookbook published in the United States is not only a first in cookbook literature, but a historic document. It reveals the rich variety of food Colonial Americans enjoyed, their tastes, cooking and eating habits, even their colorful language.
Author Amelia Simmons worked as a domestic in Colonial America and gathered her cookery expertise from firsthand experience. Her book points out the best ways of judging the quality of meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, etc., and presents the best methods of preparing and cooking them. In choosing fish, poultry, and other meats, the author wisely advises, "their smell denotes their goodness." Her sound suggestions for choosing the freshest and most tender onions, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, asparagus, lettuce, cabbage, beans, and other vegetables are as timely today as they were nearly 200 years ago.
Here are the first uniquely American recipes using corn meal—Indian pudding, "Johnny cake," and Indian slapjacks—as well as the first recipes for pumpkin pudding, winter squash pudding, and for brewing spruce beer. The words "cookie" and "slaw" made their first published appearance in this book. You'll also find the first recommended use of pearlash (the forerunner of baking powder) to lighten dough, as well as recommendations for seasoning stuffing and roasting beef, mutton, veal, and lamb—even how to dress a turtle.
Along with authentic recipes for colonial favorites, a Glossary includes definitions of antiquated cooking terms: pannikin, wallop, frumenty, emptins, and more. And Mary Tolford Wilson's informative Introductory Essay provides the culinary historical background needed to appreciate this important book fully.
Anyone who uses and collects cookbooks will want to have The First American Cookbook. Cultural historians, Americana buffs, and gourmets will find this rare edition filled with interesting recipes and rich in early American flavor.
The only biographical information known about Amelia Simmons were from the cover and title pages of her cookbook that list her as "Amelia Simmons, An American Orphan"; nothing else is known about the author, so all else is by inference. American Cookery is the only known published work by her. She said in her preface: The candor of the American Ladies is solicitously entreated by the Authoress, as she is circumscribed in her knowledge, this being original work in this country. This phrase indicates that she probably lacked formal education. Based on other quotes from her preface, she was most likely a domestic laborer. She wrote of "those females who have parents, or brothers, or riches," and how female orphans may be "reduced to the necessity of going into families in the line of domestics." Culinary Historian Karen Hess says that because "...the first edition is from Hartford, historians have always assumed that she was a New Englander." However, many of the later editions were published from a cluster around the Hudson River Valley. Also, several Dutch words appeared in her work (for example, slaw and cookey), words that would have more likely come from that region, rather than New England. So a case can be made that Simmons more likely came from the Hudson Valley region. Karen Hess also referred to Miss. Simmons as a "good plain cook", noting the generous use and variety of herbs and the use of wine in her recipes. Simmons also showed the use of English "extraordinarily fine roasting techniques" in her recipes. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
This cookbook is like reading a history book from the American kitchen. If you enjoy cooking & you enjoy history, you will enjoy reading this cookbook!Published 4 days ago by ElsaMarie
This is a good addition to my history shelf, along side of Martha Washington's cookbook and Mrs Beeton's.Published 2 months ago by W. Frame
I've always had an interest in old time recipes and I like trying them
Now I have to try and decipher them