Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: The Virginia Housewife or, Methodical Cook: A Facisimile of an Authentic Early American Cookbook by Mary Randolph

Synopsis: Originally published in 1824, this influential, classic guide by a noted Virginia hostess is widely regarded as the first truly Southern cookbook. Compiled and written by Mary Randolph (reputed to have been the best cook in Richmond), it contains a treasure of cooking instructions for everything from hearty soups to exotic cordials. Included are time-honored recipes for a wide range of beef, veal, lamb, and pork dishes, along with fish, poultry, sauces, vegetables, puddings, cakes, preserves, and more. In addition to such traditional Southern fare as okra soup, curry o catfish, barbecued shoat (a fat young hog), field peas, beaten biscuits and sweet potato buns, readers will also find scores of recipes for dishes, condiments and beverages rarely seen on today’s dinner table: sweetbread and oyster pie, grilled calf’s head, shoulder of mutton with celery sauce, fried calf’s feet, pheasant “a-la-daub,” tansy pudding, gooseberry fool (cold stewed gooseberries with custard and whipped cream), pickled nasturtiums, walnut catsup, vinegar of the four thieves, ginger wine and many other edibles from a bygone era.
More than just a collection of recipes, however, this comprehensive cook’s reference also provides a fascinating introduction to the food and customs of the antebellum South, as well as handy instructions for making soap, starch and cologne water, cleaning silver, drying herbs and much other useful advice.
For this edition, Jan Longone, a specialist in antiquarian wine and food books, has contributed an informative new introduction that outlines the singular qualities of Mrs. Randolph’s book and its preeminent place in American culinary history. Any cook, antiquarian or lover of Americana will enjoy this rare glimpse into the kitchens of the past. (from the back of the book)

Review: This was an intriguing and amusing book. The recipes! Crazy! Everything seem to take a pound of sugar or salt, or brandy, and it all takes hours and hours to cook. It's amazing how many different dishes they made with the same ingredients. If you wanted to try to recreate them, you could, but the amounts are a bit off and there is no mention of how many each dish feeds - so you might end up with enough stew for a whole plantation! Some of the cakes and roasts look tasty and I might try my hand at making a version more suited to our era. Worth reading!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-486-27772-0
Year Published: 1824 (Dover Edition, 1993)
Date Finished: 7-11-2016
Pages: 180

No comments:

Post a Comment