These days, a new cookbook seems to be published every day. Over 100 years ago Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management reigned supreme in England. Preceding her by well over a hundred years was Hannah Glasse, the author of The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. In a 2007 Journal Live article, which includes a biographical sketch of Hannah, Jane Hall writes:
She was not a professional cook, however, her expertise lying in dressmaking. Yet when The Art of Cookery was published it was an instant success. Equally popular with ladies of the house and domestic cooks and servants, it would go on to be reprinted in no less than 26 editions – and is still available today.
The book was intended as an instruction manual for servants: “the lower sort,” as she called them.
During the 1700s there was a fashion for books of this kind, which were designed to save the lady of the house from the tedious duty of instructing her kitchen maids. As Hannah said, the book should “improve the Servants and save the Ladies a great deal of Trouble.”
As with some predominant attitudes of today, women cooks were considered to be vastly inferior to male chefs:
In male-dominated Georgian England, it was assumed a woman couldn’t have written such an eloquent and well-organised work. Leading literary figure Dr Samuel Johnson famously said of Hannah’s effort: “Women can spin very well; but they cannot make a good book of cookery.” He promised to write the best collection of recipes ever; he never got around to it.
The following is a list of Hannah’s food for this month – June: The products of the kitchen and fruit garden
ASPARAGUS, garden beans and pease, kidney beans, cauliflowers, artichokes, Battersea and Dutch cabbage, melons on the first ridges, young onions, carrots and parsnips sown in February, purslain, burrage,burnet, the flowers of nasturtian, the Dutch brown, the imperial, the royal, the Silesia and cofs lettuces, some blanched endive and cucumbers. and all sorts of pot herbs.
Green gooseberries, strawberries, some raspberries, currants, white and black duke cherries, red harts, the Flemish and carnation cherries, codlings, jannatings, and the masculine apricot And in the forcing frames all the forward kind of grapes The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy Which Far Exceeds Any Thing of the Kind Yet Published … By Hannah Glasse
- Read my other post about Hannah Glasse and Regency cooking here; and all my posts about regency food here
- Watch a sampling of BBC video clips about Hannah Glasse: The First Domestic Goddess