Old Cookbooks

I have this thing with old cookbooks.

I can’t seem to get enough.

I had the thought of finding old cookbooks during my process of outlining and working on a cookbook project. I searched Amazon and the library but couldn’t find anything older than the seventies – and I wanted OLD old…like WWII and older.

So, I happened upon a few antique stores and found many written in the forties, some treasures are right in the middle of the war – several in the 30s, one in the 20s, and the oldest one I managed to find was a mangled looking cookbook published in 1890. Sure the cover has completely come apart from the book and the pages look as if they have been in a fire and a flood and I probably should be handling the brittle pages with white gloves…but I still love it.

I love studying the way writers taught women how to cook and how they explained everything from the difference from poaching to boiling to how to carve mutton and set a proper table for a formal luncheon.

I love finding old recipes you only vaguely heard your grandmother mention. I love studying technique and recipes common in certain eras. I love reading about the recipes and in doing so my mind races with ways I would change and alter a recipe. I love how excited I get to try the recipes and see if I could recapture a time lost through food.

There is a thrill with these old cookbooks…like a glimpse into the past via the one commonality that hasn’t changed: food, eating, and breaking bread with the ones you love.


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