Possibly the first cookbook written in English, The Forme of Cury, (the word “cury” is a term for cooked food) was compiled by Richard II’s chefs in 1390. It consisted of 196 recipes, many of which were of French origin. Several of the recipes were for soups and pottages, which were poured over bread which had either been toasted or dipped in liquid.
|Title page of The Forme of Cury (18th century ed.)|
A humanist Italian called Bartolomeo Platina produced the first printed cookbook in 1475. In De Honesta Voluptate (On Right Pleasure and Good Health), he recorded recipes for all kinds of food. The success of his treatise helped to revive the Roman love for good cooking.
Amongst the many recipes in De Honesta Voluptate were some for making marzipan and other candy. Confectionery regarded at the time to mainly be an apothecary’s product, but they were also regarded as a luxury food, packaged in decorative boxes and offered as a gift to royals.
The first single-subject food book was printed in 1477. Summa Lacticiniorum was written on the subject of cheese.
Thirty five year old François de la Varenne, originally learnt to cook in the kitchen of Catherine de Médici’s cousin, Marie de Médici. In 1651 he wrote Cuisinier Français, which was the first book to establish cooking rules, to present recipes in alphabetical order and to include instructions for vegetable cooking. It was the foundation stone of French classical cooking.
The first English cookbook written by a woman was Hannah Wooley’s 1670 volume, The Queen-like Closet; or Rich Cabinet.
William Parks, a colonial printer in Williamsburg, Virginia, published in 1742 the first cookbook in America. The Compleat Housewife, or Accomplish’d Gentlewoman’s Companion, was based on the fifth edition of E. Smith’s The Compleat Housewife.
American Cookery published by Amelia Simmons of New Haven in 1796 was the first American cookbook. Although it borrowed from English cookbooks and was only 47 pages long, it was the first cookbook to recognize and use American wares and customs. American Cookery included the first recipes using corn meal as the basic ingredient and combined English baking techniques and local ingredients to create “Pompkin” pie. Simmons was the first cookbook author to suggest a stuffed turkey recipe and that cranberries be eaten with roast turkey.
Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families, published in London in 1845 was the first basic cookbook written for the housewife, rather than the trained chef with a full staff. Many people hailed this elegant, clearly written volume as the greatest cookery book ever written in the English language. It included the first recipe for Brussels Sprouts.
Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, which contains recipes, diet and menu plans and practical advice on running a home, was first published in London on October 1, 1861 to great acclaim. The author Mrs Isabella Beeton was an attractive 25-year-old wife of a publisher and the eldest of 21 children and her ground breaking book costing 7s 6d made her a household name.
Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was originally published in monthly parts as a supplement to the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, a woman’s magazine founded by her husband and was filled with recipes sent in by readers from around the world. After appearing in a single volume it sold over 50,000 copies in its first year.
|Presentation of fish dishes from the book. By http://wellcomeimages.org/|
The disabled principal of Boston Cooking School, Fannie Farmer, wrote The Boston Cooking-School CookBook in 1896. Farmer was the first person to standardise the methods and measurements of her recipes, rather than such vague terms as “heaping spoonful”, assuring reliable results to her readers. She also recognized in her comprehensive and organised book the relationship between good nutrition and health.
In the U.S Irma Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking was published commercially in 1936. Many readers were attracted to the author’s accessible style and personal touch and the success of this book was a sign that the Depression was loosening its grip.
Elizabeth David of Britain studied at the Sorbonne, Paris, travelled to the Mediterranean, and spent the war years in Egypt picking up a love of French and Mediterranean cuisine. She returned to her home country in 1946 and four years later wrote A Book of Mediterranean Food, which sparked off an increased interest in foreign cuisine.
In the U.S. Julia Child’s 1962 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and television show almost single-handedly changed the way Americans cooked and ate. Her detailed printed instructions for chocolate mousse and coq au vin made these French classics possible for even a limited cook. Her wildly popular recipe for the latter was copied in millions of kitchens throughout America.
In America, Martha Stewart published The Martha Stewart Cookbook in 1995. Stewart, who had a syndicated weekly television show that celebrated old-fashioned domesticity, chamiponed the skills and values of the traditional homemaker.
In 2008, Mrs Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book was published, revealing some of the recipes Emma Darwin liked to cook for her husband.