Harriet Anne De Salis (1829-1908), who usually referred to herself in her books as, simply, “Mrs. De Salis,” was one of Victorian Britain’s most prolific—and most enterprising—food writers. At a time in which responsibility for household food preparation had begun to shift from kitchen domestics to the “home maker” herself, Mrs. De Salis provided instruction and encouragement in magazine articles and later through a blizzard of special subject books, which were very well received and sold extremely well. In 1886 she offered the first of what she came to refer to as her à la mode series. By the time of her death in 1908, this first book, Savouries à la Mode, was about to go into its twentieth printing. As with all of these titles, the savouries book was written so that the “lady of the house” might use it herself, following the recipes, or to browse it, making menu choices that could then be passed along to a cook. The recipes are in prose form, with measurements, when required, being simply incorporated into the text.
In 1902, drawing on the success of her small single-subject à la mode books, Mrs. De Salis issued a full-size 242-page volume containing many new recipes, with “Twenty-four plates, sixteen of which are printed in colours.” Her professional interest in domestic science made her one of the major figures of late Victorian cookery, and her books are widely collected.
Bound in burgundy cloth, and brightly stamped with gold decoration, this first edition is, over-all, in very good condition. All of the particularly eye-catching color plates are firmly in place. Issued by Longmans, Green, De Salis’ regular publisher, the book contains at the back, on a lesser grade of paper, an additional 40-page catalog listing of Longmans titles.