So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Cookbook of the day – The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook

boston cooking school

The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook

by Fannie Merritt Farmer

  • Publisher: Gramercy (September 16, 1997) (originally published 1897) (pictured edition 1946, Little, Brown and Co. Boston)
  • ISBN-10: 0517186780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517186787
  • This book has more editions and variants than Boston has beans. Copies have been passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter for years. And for good reason. It’s a damn good cookbook.

    Yes, it’s dated. Yes, it’s old-fashioned. No, you won’t find a lot of modern tools and techniques listed, at least if you get an older edition. And yes, there are millions of them still around because it’s been used by millions of households. It’s the book that the other perennial favorite, The Joy of Cooking is found right next to on your great aunt’s countertop. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a hold of a copy that has decades-old notes of family heirloom recipes scribbled in the margins. Or, you’ll get a shade less lucky and find a virtually new copy of an old edition for $1.50, as I did last week at my local used bookstore. Mine is the exact edition you see pictured above, the 1946 Eighth Edition by Little, Brown and Co. Boston. As of that date, I counted 62 reprintings. Each is listed along with the actual printing figures for each reprinting for a total of 2, 531,000 copies. As of 1946!

    It’s possible that it’s the most reprinted cookbook in history. It’s been revised umpteen times, the latest by acclaimed food writer, Marion Cunningham. Many people only know it as The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. You can even get a reprint of the original 1896 edition. And, even this 1896 edition was a reworking of the original Boston Cooking-School Cookbook by Mrs. D. A. Lincoln from 1884, which was also reprinted from the original and available from dover books until fairly recently.

    I can’t speak to the current edition. I’m sure that it’s been considerably modernised. But if you’re lucky to find an earlier edition, you’ll be transported back to a time where butter ruled, food was hardy and life-sustaining and ladies wore big hats to formal picnics.

    And you’ll find many classic dishes that still find favor in these hectic modern times. You’ll find comfort foods like Swiss steak, breaded veal cutlets,  and giblet gravy. You’ll find Grandmother’s Pound Cake, with its simple ingredients list: 1 cup sugar, 1 2/3 cup sugar, 2 eggs and 2 cups flour. You’ll find canning charts and your grandmother’s step by step canning procedure.

    It’s quaint and useful at the same time and it’s a solid link to the history of American cuisine. A must have.

    And now I have it.

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