About the Author
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.
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