Let your feet be well boiled. Take half a pound of them chopped small...
July 17, 2013 9:36 AM   Subscribe

The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies: Historian re-discovers a 300-year-old cookbook.

Unearthed by Judith Finnamore, a librarian at Westminster Council’s Archives Centre, the handwritten collection contains more than 350 recipes dating back as far back as the early 1700s. Finnamore has been recreating dishes and blogging about the results and about the history of English cooking.

While there are plenty of oddities (Calf’s head hash: a dish for brave cooks with big appetites; 3 Pound Georgian Pound Cake) a few of the dishes are worth trying at home.
Many questions remain unanswered. Was this a family cookbook, passed down from generation to generation? For what type of household were these recipes written? Were our ladies servants and, if so, what was life like for them in an 18th century kitchen? In this blog, we’ll draw on clues from the manuscript to create a picture of our cookbook writers and the world in which they lived.
The Daily Mail has photos from the blog of some of the dishes.

Previously: You can help transcribe the University of Iowa Libraries' age-old assortment of handwritten cookbooks.
posted by not_the_water (10 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
An encouraging review if you're inclined to make cow heel: “It was not vile."
posted by not_the_water at 9:38 AM on July 17, 2013

I really wonder how well it jibes with the stuff in Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Adding their blog to my newsblur!
posted by DigDoug at 9:44 AM on July 17, 2013

The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies

That sounds like it would be a perfect companion tome for To Serve Man.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:47 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

Also.. I want a 300 year old book. any book.
anything that predates the founding of the US.
posted by DigDoug at 9:48 AM on July 17, 2013

Sizzle the Meat.

achewood completeness theorum satisfied
posted by FatherDagon at 9:55 AM on July 17, 2013

Also.. I want a 300 year old book. any book.
anything that predates the founding of the US.

Got 40 bucks?

posted by DaDaDaDave at 9:59 AM on July 17, 2013

There are also parallels with today’s ‘slow food’ movement. Kitchens drew largely on seasonal, locally-sourced produce, and as far as possible used food produced in their own smallholdings and gardens.

Umm... as opposed to.... grabbing a frozen dinner from the Super-Target on the way home from the office? I'm guessing there weren't a lot of alternatives to "slow food" in the 1700's.
posted by scottatdrake at 10:07 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

British culinary history

So this is not a cookbook as much as it is a guide on how to boil stuff.
posted by three blind mice at 10:25 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

Some of these look good.
But then . . . I like lots of the bits no one else seems to like.
(Those three antelope hearts in the freezer are waiting for the perfect recipe.)
posted by Seamus at 10:34 AM on July 17, 2013

I'm guessing there weren't a lot of alternatives to "slow food" in the 1700's.

They imported a lot of food, and that's one of the great things about what these recipes reveal. They're probably special occasion recipes (you don't need to write down everyday recipes), but they reveal a lot of citrus, cinnamon, other spices that were decidedly not grown in British smallholdings. We underestimate the "food miles" traveled in the world of trade that cuisines past existed within.
posted by Miko at 10:57 AM on July 17, 2013

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