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The First American Cookbook: A Facsimile of "American Cookery," 1796 Paperback – Facsimile, October 1, 1984
Cooking in the New Year
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From the Back Cover
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
So, this was the first cookbook slanted towards female cooks and is the first book to show corn meal as a primary ingredient. Here you will find the first recipes for "Indian Slapjacks: or "Johnny Cake" which became staples during the following centuries.
Amelia also presented the first recipe for pumpkin pie, Indian pudding, rice pudding and gingerbread. Here you can find the words "cookie" and "slaw" which come from the Dutch in America. Many of the recipes show you how to cook classic recipes for dumplins, biscuits and fruit pies.
The most recent printing of this cookbook seems to be by Tresco Publishers and it was reprinted in 2001. This Ohio publisher obtained special permission to reprint a limited facsimile copy (all forty-seven octavo pages) of this American Classic.
The book I found has a facsimile copy of American Cookery from 1796 that is definately showing it was used often, complete with grease stains. Then, there is a translation into a modern printing font that is much easier to read. In the facsimile copy with Early American print fonts in which the letter "s" appeared as "f"... this makes the original harder to read.Read more ›
The facsimile text is somewhat difficult to read due to the age of the original and the archaic use of f for s; In addition, modern readers will find it difficult to impossible to follow the recipes due to the archaic ingredients and(to us)vague oven setting descriptions. If one is interested in actually preparing some of Simmons recipes the following alternate edition will be more usefull: American Cookery 1796 (hard cover) This edition (also in paperback) has an easy to read modern text and added illustrations not present in the original.
For those interested in the history of cooking this is an historical gem, especially as a facsimile and with the Wilson essay as an introduction. Text and page images of this original edition (without the introduction) are also available at the Michigan State University Digital Library "Feeding America" site.
Mary T. Wilson struck me as someone who was full of information and somewhat vexed by the lack of room given her to talk. The preface succeeded in placing "American Cookery" in it's proper place, historically speaking, but not without a bit of wandering around and circumlocution. [She give us a very nice list of references at the end.]
As for the rest of the book, it contains Ms. Simmon's recipes for soups, roasting various meats, puddings and pie, cakes, cookies, jams and veggies. In addition, there are instructions on how to purchase the best ingredients. As it turns out though, these were not Amelia's words, but something a very naughty Publisher added on his own, for in the 2nd edition Amelia fairly screams that the villain mutilated her work, at once adding his own words, and secondly, by leaving out key instructions out of her receipts (as recipes were once called). (Historians conclude from this that she could not read her proofs, and had the Publisher, or someone else, write out the recipes for her.)
What this means to me is that if you want to own a copy of the very first American cookbook, that you should purchase this Dover edition. But that if you actually want to try some of the dishes, that you should track down the 2nd edition, which has many (most?) of the corrections included, and buy it.
This is a wonderful edition. Dover has done a nice job for the price.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received this small paperback and was very disappointed. First, barely any recipes and second, not use able recipes. I could understand the spelling if words or terminology. Read morePublished 19 days ago by groovykarma
I like old cook books. This one is kind of hard to read, but very interesting anyway.Published 3 months ago by AppyHorsey
I found this an interesting purchase.
First, I'll warn you, the typesetting imitates what was used back then. Read more
I love cookbook books, especially old ones and this is a great addition to my collection.Published 4 months ago by Mycou
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 months ago by ElsaMarie