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

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Martha Washington's Recipes, Over Five Hundred Classics dating from Elizabethan and Jacobean times, are gathered in this family cookbook that captures the essence of early American folk culture. Handed down as a manuscript cookbook for generations, Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery has been annotated by Karen Hess, a noted culinary historian and cook. For the historian, she documents early American cookery with prose and photographs of Washington's original manuscript and an appendix detailing extensive primary-source research. For the cook, she explains terms and techniques unfamiliar to the modern kitchen, showing how to make old-fashioned recipes the traditional way.

About the Author

Karen Loft Hess (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 antiestablishment 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: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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By Kindle Reader on February 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I gave this book to my friend for her birthday and she loves it so much that we are getting a few couples together to celebrate Washington's birthday on Saturday and each couple will take two dishes to make and then we try them out together.
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Very interesting recipes with great historical insights into the food of the times. Great reading, but I haven't made any of the recipes as yet.
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Loved the stories along with the recipes.
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