Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Those Were The Days

In my collection of 100 or more cookbooks, three of my prized possessions are cookbooks I inherited from either my English grandmother or great aunties. These books are VERY old ,very worn, and unfortunately, falling apart. I don't look at them very often as I don't want to damage them, but when I do it is always fascinating.I thought I would share portions of one of them today. Mrs. Beeton's Cookery Book is a small edition of her much more complete and huge Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. This particular edition was a "new edition" published in 1903. My mother has my grandmother's edition of the entire Book of Household management. I remember as a girl sitting in the hallway of my grandmother's house next to the bookshelves, thumbing through this giant tome in complete awe and amazement.

The pictures, some in color, some in black and white, were drawn and painted so beautifully and the names of most of the recipes were completely intriguing and foreign to me. Things like Lark Pudding, Jugged Hare or Tipsy Cake were beyond my imagination. In the chapter entitled Invalid Cookery there is a recipe for Baked or Stewed Calf's Foot. Isn't that just what a sick person craves? Calf's Foot. I will quote a passage from another chapter about serving dinner: "Too often it is the custom to invite just as many people as we can set at our tables, in many cases more than our servants can wait upon." Isn't that quaint??

Published in 1861, Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain. Its 2751 entries include tips on how to deal with servants'pay and children's health, and above all a wealth of cooking advice, instructions and recipes. It was an immediate bestseller, running to millions of copies within just a few years. Mrs. Isabella Beeton died at the age of 28 and it's truly amazing her accomplishments considering the age in which she lived.

The entire book of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management is available to view on line at: I think Mrs. Beeton would whole heartily approve of these little inventions called the computer and the Internet for making our lives more efficient


KandN said...

Thanks for sharing, SS :>)

Phoo-D said...

What a fun old book! I am a big sucker for old cookbooks and can spend endless hours flipping through them! Thank you for the online link. Can't wait to check it out!

Big Sis said...

I have a modern reproduction of the book and still love it. I too remember looking at it at Grandma's. As I recall you have dibs on the original:)

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