One of the highly respected books of the mid-nineteenth century, this sturdy encyclopedic manual of cookery was among the best sellers of the pre-Fannie Farmer generation. Rather than being simply an assemblage of recipes favored by the author, it is a systematic reference work intended to cover every type of food, from salted meats to gingerbread, providing both recipes and general instruction.
A remaking of an 1847 book entitled The American System of Cookery, this significantly expanded 480 page volume was published in 1866.The style is transitional to modern: ingredient quantities are generally specified, but instructions are more informal and permissive than what would be seen just two or three decades later, in the era of the new “scientific” cookery.
There is, throughout , evidence that this was still a time when cooks were closer to their food sources; witness the opening instruction in a recipe for “heavy cream,” “Take a gallon of milk, warm from the cow; set it over the fire.” As its title suggests, this is clearly an American book. While there appear a minor scattering of recipes from France or England, its roots are apparent in the corn meal fritters, molasses cupcakes, a Thanksgiving pie, and fried peaches (identified as “a North Carolina dish”). Definitely a worthwhile addition to any nineteenth century collection.
This copy is in Good-plus condition. It has been rebound in its original case, with new off-white endpapers. The first three leaves, including the title page, have been secured, and are slightly shaky. Page 173 was removed and has been archivally replaced. The remaining portion of the interior is good and clean, quite possibly never cooked from and showing no foxing. The case is very good as well, the front and back blind stamped and the spine bearing gold-stamping, which is somewhat worn but still fully legible. There is a very small (1/16” x 1/2”) horizontal tear at the head of the spine. This is a chance to have a copy of a historically interesting book at a highly reasonable price.