It is easy to imagine cookbooks being the preserve of the last few decades following the massive success of chefs and their books such as Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Mary Berry to name a few. However, food and its preparation have always been of interest to people and over the centuries chefs have sought to bring their recipes and wisdom to a wider audience.

One of the world’s outstanding collections of cookery books is currently on display at the University of Leeds and although I am unable to visit it in person I am happy to bring part of the exhibition of ‘Cooks and their Books’ alive for you (and me) through four of the fantastic books currently on exhibition.

1024px-ScappiThe oldest cookery book dates back 1570 when Michelangelo was still completing the ceiling on the Sistine Chapel in Venice. Not far away a chef named Bartolomeo Scappi (c.1500-1577) was a cook for several cardinals at the Vatican and during this time he wrote his monumental treatise on the art of cookery. Entitled ‘Opera dell’arte del cucinare’, his book (pictured above) was first and foremost intended as an aid to his apprentice, Giovanni and this was the first time that a cookery book included clear instructions and techniques, both in written form and through illustrations.

In the thousand or so recipes Scappi managed to merge medieval tastes with those from the upcoming New World; for example, he included sugar in his cooking (and this featured as a pizza topping with pine nuts and rosewater).

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Another tome of cookery was published in 1730 in London. ‘The Complete Practical Cook’ was written by Charles Carter, a chef to leading soldiers and diplomats serving Queen Anne serving in Europe, including, Berlin, Hanover, Spain and Portugal.


The book features many unique elements including sixty engraved table settings which were Carter’s pride and joy.  The volume itself is set in chapters following the order in which dishes were usually consumed at dinner and therefore the comprehensive index proved especially useful and necessary.

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The recipes, numbering about five hundred in total, were all accompanied by a glossary of terms used which was another new and practical addition to recipe books of the time.  Charles Carter believed that cookery was an art form and claimed to be able ‘in no mean way…surpass a French Cook.’

TX719_C27c2v1Whilst Carter believed that the art of cooking should be more recognised and rewarded, Antonin Carême (1784-1833) turned the craft of cooking into a fine art. Working in Paris during the early nineteenth century he prospered after his inauspicious start of being abandoned by his parents at the age of ten. From starting out in his childhood as a kitchen boy, he worked his way up to becoming one of the top patisserie (confectionaries) in Paris. In 1828, Carême, who served such famous leaders as Napoleon and Tsar Alexander, published his hugely influential cookbook ‘Le Patissier Royal Parisien’.


It was a feast of ‘showstopper’ recipes showing the grandiose ‘high art’ of cookery including the famous pièces montées. These elaborate constructions were formed into monumental centrepieces of temples, ancient ruins, pyramids created out of foodstuffs including sugar, marzipan and pastries. Carême is recognised as one of the first internationally renowned celebrity chefs!

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isabella-beeton-1Mrs Beeton (1836-1865) is a byword for good cooking and household management – and a copy of her book is found in many homes in the UK (including ours since my husband owns a copy).  Originally published in 1861 when it sold an extraordinary 60,000 copies, Isabella Beeton’s ‘Book of Household Management’ is still in print today (although revised and enlarged).

First Edition Cover

It was a ground-breaking comprehensive and influential book for the new middle-class in the Victorian era, extolling the values of hard work, thrift and cleanliness. The book included not only some 1,700 recipes for every day and special events (with additional information about the dishes as well as copious illustrations) but also provided information for running of a household, managing servants, raising children, looking after the sick and legal matters.

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Mrs Beeton was an unusual cookbook publisher as she was not a chef herself rather she worked as a journalist, editor and writer. During her short life, she compiled and edited on behalf of her husband before dying from puerperal fever aged 28. She left behind a legacy which has spanned three centuries – a truly remarkable feat.

These are only a snapshot of the books available to see at the exhibition and of the entire collection of over 2,000 cookbooks. Which one was your favourite? Or perhaps you have your own special cookbook? Perhaps one passed down over the years? What is your favourite aspect of the book, the recipe to which you always return? As always I look forward to your comments. Happy Reading, Cooking & Baking! 

* ‘A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.’ Thomas Keller

Sources: University of Leeds, alumni magazine & Wikipedia.

119 thoughts on “SOUL TO THE RECIPE*

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  2. Ok I’m kind of obsessed with this! Old cookbooks are my favorite thing ever. I found an old cookbook from 1926 with a newspaper cutting about the Civil RIghts Act of 1964 on one side a a navy soup recipe on the other and I can’t get enough

    1. What a wonderful find in the old book … and I can imagine this is kept safe! Any old books are a wonder and fascinating and obviously even more so when coupled with a personal interest. Enjoy your old cookbooks! 😀😀

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  5. Wonderful post Annika encompassing one of my great loves, cooking (and eating). 🙂 My hubby’s grandma (who’s since passed away) was a member of the PMWU in Australia and her cookbook still graces our shelf. They’re priceless reminders of a skill that’s certainly evolved but fundamentally stayed the same. Lovely commentary of some old classics here. Cheers 🙂xo

    1. Miriam, so many comments here have sent me off exploring online and yours is so fascinating. I had no idea what PMWU stood for until I discovered it is the longest running cookbook series in the country. Wow! I am so impressed your hubby’s mother was a member and helped make the book!! No wonder it is treasured in your household. Did you know there is a book about the history of the cookbook? I found this whilst looking around. From Suet to Saffron: The History of the PMWU Cookbook in Victoria 1904-2012 (Fairfield Press) is $19.95 and available at Might be of interest to you? It is interesting how so much has changed in the hundreds of years of cooking but yes, still fundamentally the same – and probably will do in the years, decades, centuries ahead. Just the fads and trends that change dramatically. Happy Cooking…especially over those campfires…so dreamy! 😀

      1. Fascinating. I was aware that it was the longest running cookbook in the country but not that there was a book made on the history of the cookbook. I wonder if Doug’s mum knows about it or perhaps even has it. I must ask her next time we visit. It was actually Doug’s grandmother who was on the PMWU committee of the revised making of the cookbook. I might have to do some sleuthing myself. Thanks for looking into this Annika. So very interesting. And happy cooking yourself. xo 🙂

    1. Lynz, as soon as I read about the exhibition I knew I wanted to share here – a good excuse to research and absorb myself in the detail of them! They are all so unique and a joy to learn about them all. 😀

  6. I did not know all that about Mrs Beeton. Only 28 when she died! Have always imagined her a plump middle-age. One of my favourite oldish cookbooks is The American Womans Cookbook (1944). I showed it to an American friend and he laughed. He said – ‘well-what-da-you-know .. American women cook? (he is from New York)

    1. Hehe…the cheek of your friend!! 😀😃 I must say, seeing TV shows set in New York they always seem to eat out! I thought the same about Mrs Beeton and felt quite sad for her, her short life…still, what a legacy!

  7. Holy cow! A whole exhibition about cookbooks? I’d love to see that–so interesting! Thank you for sharing a taste of that exhibit with us, Annika. It’s amazing how some of those old cookbooks continue to be used. I’ve got two editions of the ubiquitous Betty Crocker Cookbook, which I think every woman in the US has, at least every one that is from my generation or older. My fave cookbook? The one my mother arranged for a fundraiser at the hospital where she worked before she died. It’s got some of her recipes, and a dedication–she gave one to myself and each of my siblings. Lots of memories 🙂

    1. Julie, what a precious cookbook arranged by your mother and featuring some of her recipes…I’m so moved reading this. A real treasure forever. I’m beginning to realise the Betty Crocker is THE cookbook for American household – rather like Mrs Beeton in the UK, I imagine. This was such an unusual exhibition and anything with books grabs my attention; the detail, dedication, and longevity of these are outstanding!

  8. This sounds like a great exhibit, Annika! I’m sure glad these exhibited cookbooks have diagrams with them. Anyone who tries to recreate some of these dishes will need illustrations! Seeing that I cook dinner for a hungry group 6 nights a week (tonight is pizza night!), I spend a lot of time thinking about recipes. My go-to cookbook is my Better Homes and Gardens one from about 1990. It has the best basic recipes, and is currently being held together with duct tape, plus I’ve added all kinds of notes and reviews. I’ve bought newer BH&G ones, but the recipes are different! We all have our systems, don’t we? Happy weekend to you!

    1. Barbara, wow! That’s a lot of cooking and no wonder your poor cookbook has suffered!! I think we all have our favourites and my most-used vegetarian cookbook looks like it’s been through the wars. And like you, I bought the latest version – only to find new recipes! Grr…so frustrating. Yep, we all have our systems and that’s what makes them perfect! How true that these early recipes definitely need illustrations and luckily they had the foresight to add these – at considerable cost and difficulty I imagine! Happy Cooking!! 😀

    1. Thank you, Khaya! 😀 This doesn’t even come close to seeing the real exhibition but at least gives a flavour. Alas it is only running for a few weeks otherwise I’d head off there during the school holidays in February!

  9. Mike Perry

    Love the blog Annika – but then again anything involved with food is bound to be interesting to me! I do have a couple of Cookery Books but these days I normally just use them to remind me of the quantities of ingredients I need to use as I’ve cooked them so many times I do the rest from memory. I never knew Cookery Books had been around for so long though.


    1. Hehe…Mike, why am I not surprised that this would grab your attention!! 😀 Food seems to have been central in our lives for hundreds of years and yes, it was a wonderful surprise to see how old some of these books were and their amazing, loving detail. Certain dishes become one’s trademark and their concoction sits in our hands – but always a good idea to check up on quantities! Happy Cooking (and eating!) 😀

    1. Glynis, I had no idea either – it’s been an eye-opener reading and researching about the exhibition! These books are real treasures in an era when so few books were being made! A joy to share here! 😀

  10. I had no idea that cookbooks could be traced back so far in time. I admit, I’m not the best when it comes to creating anything culinary. I manage to eke by in the kitchen, but I come from a family of Italians who were highly proficient. They didn’t write things down or measure, so many of the “old” recipes have been lost. My grandparents had their own bakery, followed by their own restaurant and bar. It makes me wish I had paid more attention when I was younger!

    1. Mae, I bet you were often popping by your grandparents!! That is assuming they lived close by..there is nothing quite like fresh made bread! My brother was a baker for a short while and he’d come home ladened with bread just as I was getting ready for school, bliss…I was sad when he changed jobs! Oh, I’m so impressed with people who can just cook without recipes…but it makes it hard to save those gems of dishes. My grandmother did the same with her baking and my mother over a few summers when I was little stood with her as she worked and got her to weigh everything was funny hearing my grandmother’s frustration as she usually just ‘threw’ things in until it felt ‘right’! Mae, lovely to learn of your Italian background…here’s to cooking whether proficient or ekeing by! 😀😀

      1. I hear a lot of people say their grandmothers just “threw” things together until it tasted right. Probably why in my family no one can duplicate those recipes even when they try. Maybe there was magic they threw I there too, LOL.

  11. I agree it’s an art form, Annika, and one at which I’m not very proficient. 🙂 🙂 I love the illustrations. What a very unusual post you’ve assembled here. I was in Leeds on Tuesday for my son’s birthday, but without time to spare.

    1. A belated Hapoy Birthday to your son!! 😀 Does he work in Leeds? You might have mentioned it before? The university owns some amazing collections covering all aspects and this is only a small taster of the cookery books…the illustrations are precious I agree and I love how they vary from the obvious to the elaborate artistic design of the centrepieces.

  12. Such a fascinating post, Annika! I’m not an enthusiastic cook myself and will get out of cooking if possible whenever I can (which isn’t often 🙂 ). However, these old books and recipes make such interesting reading! My mother has an ancient Mrs Beaton that she bought 2nd hand I think when she was very young and still refered to it until recently. I used to buy her old 19th century cookery books when I found them in antiquarian bookshops.

    1. Clare, what a wonderful interest of your mother to have in antiquarian cookbooks and so unusual too! Did she use the recipes? I love that she used her Mrs Beeton until recently… it definitely seems to be the stalwart of the kitchen! My husband takes his out every Christmas when cooking the Boxing Day lunch! I have lots of vegetarian cookbooks but still find myself going back to my older two favourite ones over and over! So glad you enjoyed the post, Clare and older books of any sorts are often of interest. 😀

      1. Thanks, Annika. She definitely used Mrs. Beeton regularly – her Christmas Pudding recipe comes from there – but I don’t think she used recipes from any of her other antiquarian books though she got ideas from them and/or adapted recipes.

  13. “The kitchen as the hearth of the home” – a well proven motto with Mrs. Beeton’s book. I had no idea cookbooks were published so early. The printing press had only been invented about 100 years before, and look how much useful progress was made in that time. It shows how hungry people were for knowledge about how to prepare food. (I know – the pun.) The elaborate illustrations are fascinating to see. Thanks for taking me on this culinary journey with you.

    1. Shari, I love your intended pun!! 😀😀 Nothing much has changed in the world of cookbooks in so much as people are just buying more and more of them! The illustrations are a joy to see, I agree. I also couldn’t believe how early on they printed cookbooks…I thought the gift of printing was left to the church etc…it does show the interest and powerful influence of food in our lives! So glad you enjoyed this culinary journey! 😀❤️

  14. Oh wow you did quite a bit of research on these books and thanks for bringing them to us, Annika! It’s funny how we focus so much on fiction books rather than cookbooks on our blogs but really both are amazing creations! Your list reminded me of this 😉

    1. Christy, I love research!! 😀😃 The more copious notes I have, the happier I am! And there were lots of notes for this one but as always I had to be selective what to use. I hadn’t either realised how hugely popular cookbooks were and are…their sales are phenomenal and still in print decades or even hundred plus years later! What has also been a revelation is how many read then as novels, enjoying to read through, look, study them…I will definitely approach cookbooks with a lot more respect and attention in future. 😀

    1. Jessica, I know…450 years old!! I love how the interest in cookery was already so strong then and how the book has survived all this time. A fascinating topic and a joy to share here! Hope you and your family are all well and having a good winter. xxx

  15. Wow! What a fantastic journey back in time with cookbooks. Look how far cooking shows and books have evolved since then. Those images were truly fascinating Annika. Thank you. 🙂 xx

    1. Thank you, Debby…you’re right that cookbooks have changed dramatically since these earliest ones but the motivation seems to have remained the same. Those early images are precious, I agree and some true art in the designs whilst also sharing the tools for the trade…wide-ranging! 😀

  16. Cookbooks are wonderful testimonies to the culture of the time. As I tend to search the internet for recipes I’ve done away with most of my cookbooks except for a few: Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking, Michael van Straten’s Super Juice, Crockpot cookbook and a 1948 edition of Your Home and You by Carlotta C. Greer which is not only a cookbook but also deals with subjects such as learning to be a likeable person, table manners and table settings, wise budgeting, leisure time, cleanliness and safety in the home among all the recipes. Thanks for this post, Annika which brought me down memory lane. 🙂

    1. Carol, it’s a joy to read your comment and follow along with you a bit down memory lane. 😀 Thank you so much for sharing about your various cookbooks and they all sound so interesting. Joy of Cooking is another old one, I see and seen as the backbone of cookery books…wow! 18 millions copies sold! That’s amazing. I find it interesting how some went beyond just recipes to even ‘learning to be a likeable person’ etc. They are all a wonderful resource into past generations and the lives lived!

  17. Very interesting, Annika. I still have my mother’s Good Housekeeping cookbook form the 50s with some of my favorite childhood recipes in it. Now days, I rely mainly on the Internet. Tonight I am cooking up a lamb curry in the new Instant Pot Peggy and I just bought. I do love lamb curry. 🙂 –Curt

    1. Curt, enjoy the inaugural use of your new Instant Pot and I hope the lamb curry was delicious. Do you have it very spicy? We went to an Indian restaurant during the week they cook a superb vegetable korma – just perfect!

      The internet seems such an obvious source for recipes but not one I tend to use…I think I’m too scared of splashes on my iPad. Cookery books carry so many memories, as you find yourself with your mother’s book, so I think they will always be popular too. Happy Cooking! 😀😃

      1. The lamb curry was delicious, Annika. 🙂 But I still need to play with it some more. Fine tuning you know. I love hot food, a taste I developed in tropical Africa. Peggy, on the other hand has very little tolerance for the sweat on your forehead spices. So I tend to cook it cool and then add heat to my own. 🙂 –Curt

    1. Isn’t it just and wonderful that they took an opportunity to show off some of their vast collection…it’s a pity if they’re never open to view. A joy to read about for myself and I quickly realised this was a must to share here; as always so many books I didn’t get space to write up!

    1. Connie, thank you so much for the reblog! 😀😃 What a wonderful selection of cookbooks and I am very interested in the 1942 wartime cookbook – I bet there are quite a few tricks in there to make meals go that bit further. I’m beginning to understand that Betty Crocker and her cookbook is the staple recipe book in America and I’m off to explore more about her!

      1. I plan to try some of the wartime recipes and I’ll be posting them when I do. Some of their recipes use kidneys, tripe, lamb, pig hocks, and heart. One of them is similar to what I do now. It’s called Rechauffe au Lait and uses 2 cups diced cooked meat. I don’t know what a rèchauffè is and they explained that ‘cooked meat’ was any left over meat. What I do now is use 2 cans chunky soup, add a little extra broth and about 3/4 cup uncooked rice. I throw the rice into the soup and let it cook. I add leftover beef when I have it, but they like it just fine with only the meat in the soup. With rolls and a salad it makes a hearty meal.
        I’m curious to see what you learn about Betty Crocker. I have several favorites of hers that I use. I should probably post those as well.

  18. How incredibly interesting, Annika. I have a “family” cookbook that we put together several years ago using everyone’s favorite recipes. It will be passed on to my daughters.

    1. Jan, what a unique and original cookbook. I love this idea, it is so special and joint project with the family. One to be treasured, and meals cooked from there will always be memorable and resonate profoundly with everyone. Thank you so much for sharing. Xxx

  19. A scholarly piece, Annika! This was all new to me, and pine nuts and rosewater? Yes please! I’m a bit sad that both of my go-to classic cookbooks are reprints, but I’m glad I have them in any form. Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook from 1974 is basically the vegetarian Bible, which they reprinted with its original handwritten recipes. I only discovered it in my 20s but I grew up with my grandmother’s (now my mother’s) beat-up and hob-charred clothbound original 1954 edition of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook — which they published in 3-ring binder form a while ago with all its classic recipes and outmoded gender roles intact. I’ve found the tooth-grinding little bits of advice on what to serve “him” when he comes home tired from work are outweighed by all the timeless, fundamental cooking wisdom — and the best sugar cookie recipe ever. 🙂

    1. Sunshine, maybe you’ll have to try that unique and unusual pizza topping! 😀😀 The Mollie Katzen book looks amazing and as a vegetarian absolute brilliant…and I love the sound of the handwritten printed recipes, a lovely touch! I guess Betty Crocker is the Mrs Beeton of America…including being out moded but I would find all that quite amusing. Yes, best to use what is relevant…oh, now I just wish I could try those sugar cookies! Happy cooking / baking! 😀

  20. Wow. Totally fascinating, Annika. I never even considered that cookbooks had to start somewhere with someone. I think I thought they just magically appeared. Ha ha. I can’t pick a favorite. Maybe the oldest/ first one. But I’m impressed by the last as well – how much Mrs. Beeton accomplished in her short life… and still used today! I imagine seeing this exhibition in person would be amazing. Thanks for the wonderful post!

    1. Diana, I’m with you there and never thought much about them, apart from the huge popularity of some modern day chefs who have become celebraties in their own right. The art and work of these early books is astonishing and moving…pure labour of love. Mrs Beeton was criticised in her day for her lack of original recipes but I’m also in awe of all her work, in such a short time (plus having four children!).

  21. Fascinating, Annika! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this treasury… My favorite basic cooking go-to is The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (An All-American Classic) revised by Marion Cunningham. I update most of the recipes using heart-healthy alternative ingredients these days. Happy cooking! ❤ xo

    1. Bette, wow! This is a classic and over 100 years old and still as relevant today! I like how you’re adapting the recipes for healthier ingredients but still retaining the core dish…clever! The post has been a joy to compile and share …I’m now eager to learn and explore more cookery books as a result! Wishing you happy cooking too! ❤️😀

  22. My favorite “cookbook” is my Italian grandma’s little red recipe box with all of her handwritten recipes where the print is fading away. Yes, I do have copies.

    1. Phew…Lori, I’m so glad you mentioned that you had copies! 😀 It’s as if you read my mind and I was instantly worried for you and the fading Print on your grandma’s precious recipe box. Lori, thank you so much for sharing and I am so touched to read about the handwritten recipes… a real treasure! ❤️

  23. Another fascinating post. To me, Betty Crocker and Julia Child are ‘historic’ cookbooks. I love the one on household management. I may see if I can dig that out of my local library.

    1. Jacqui, I’m having a wonderful lesson in international home technology – I must learn more about Betty Crocker and Julia Child. Let me know if you mange to find Mrs Beeton’s book in your local library – at least it is still in print, which helps a lot.😀

  24. What a delightful post, Annika! I have a deep passion for cook books and spent hours leafing through them, admiring the pictures and imagining how the dishes would taste. Strangely I really like looking at cook books when I’m hungry! Lol! 😄
    And what a wonderful exhibition it will be, too bad it’s a ten hours drive for you – I can understand that that’s too much. But you’ve done such great research and I haven’t heard if any of the books you’ve mentioned here before, so a big thank you for this! I would so much love having a look at them all! Instead I think I will now do a little rummaging to one of my Jamie Oliver books. 😉

    1. Sarah, I wish you lots of fun with your Jamie Oliver book…it’s one I don’t actually own but feel I ought to! The post came a bit closer to the exhibition and it’s wonderful to learn about everyone’s special cookbooks! Haha! I had to laugh at how you end up looking at cookery books when hungry…very apt. The pictures can be amazing, real work of art and sometimes stories behind them too. Happy Reading…and cooking! 😀😀

  25. Cooking…the basic instinct that we are endowed with definitely becomes better when we add a dash of soul’s delight to it. I have never consulted cook books but many a soul have added their tips to my ways of cooking! I smile when I see my daughter following recipes to the minutest details and can understand how much of effort must have gone into finalising them.
    Thank you Annika for acquainting us with these fascinating historic facts and masterpieces, they must be modern chefs’ delight! A delectable post, leaving me craving for good food, 🙂

    1. Balroop, I’m smiling at how you’re left craving for food…some look amazing and I’m in awe of the huge centrepieces! Wow! You’ve never consulted a recipe book…that is very unusual. Do you cook everything from memory passed onto you or your own inventions? Bless your daughter for being the exact opposite of you, following the recipe religiously. I’m a mix of both, and for dinner parties they will definitely come out although I’m happy to adapt! Thank you so much for reading and commenting,Balroop! Wishing you many hours of enjoyable delectable cooking! 😀xx

  26. What a fabulous post Annika. I never knew Mrs Beeton was not a chef. She sure left a wonderful legacy behind. I noticed the Coronation dinner plans in Charles Carter’s book. that must have been some feast.
    I have fond memories of devouring Robert Carrier’s cookbook, and experimenting with his recipes many moons ago.

    1. Brigid, that fact about Mrs Beeton was the most surprising to me too! One imagines her as a bustling chef, quite matronly, fully in charge of a kitchen. Her work is incredible and I never realised her book was so old! Oh yes, amazing dinner plans…they certainly knew how to deliver a feast and no wonder notes needed to be saved! Thank you for sharing about Robert Carrier’s cookbook…this looks great!

  27. Thank you-fascinating and interesting. I know that health researchers also study old cookbooks to learn about the nutrition of past generations. One study was of cookbooks published by women’s church groups at the end of the 19th century- there was a big emphasis on pastry, lard, veggies in cream sauce, beef-,not what we now consider healthy!

    1. Jena, so many of these recipes are outdated but what a wonderful historical resource! Your list of ingredients from the 19th century is definitely not considered in today’s world but more surprisingly lard was still widely used in the UK in the 50s, I think and even featured in my school recipes in the late ‘80!

  28. This is great! Wish I could see it in person. I collect cookbooks. I have both of my grandmothers’ collections in addition to those I’ve acquired on my own. I usually try to get one wherever we travel, too. I can’t say I have a favorite, but I treasure each book for one or more reasons.

    Loved this post.

    1. Staci, how precious to have your grandmothers’ collection of cookbooks…ones to treasure. I love how you collect cookbooks and I’m beginning to see a bit of a trend of buying them whilst on travels – a brilliant idea and one I might well take up. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. 😀❤️

      1. I have their recipes, too, which I treasure even more. Especially the ones in their handwriting rather than the ones other people penned and gave them. But the books are great. Things have changed over the years, and seeing those changes reflected in the books is fun.

  29. I really enjoyed this visit. When I was a young woman I read cookbooks like novels and learned how to make my way in the world of dinner parties and restaurants. (I grew up very poor.) Later when we traveled I always bought a cookbook home from the place we visited. Now I enjoy reading cookbook/memoirs. My favorite in that genre is Blood, Butter and Bones by Gabrielle Hamilton.

    1. Bernadette, the what a great title for a book and first of all it sounds more like a thriller…looking it up it seems a moving tale of her childhood, family and experiences…I am intrigued and making a note of it. Thank you so much for sharing about your love of cookery books – you must have an impressive collection of books from all your travels! Happy Reading! 😀❤️

    1. Wht a terrific name for a cookbook, Jill! 😀😀 A great idea and very handy to come back to – thank you for sharing. I’m in need of new cookbooks and I saw a vegetarian in this range too! So glad you liked this mini show of the exhibition…and the quote! I think Keller is an American chef…is he well-known?

    1. It’s strange, since we know about a lot of other older books but cookery ones seem to pass us by! This was too good an opportunity to miss…just wish I could see them in real life! It made sense to start with the oldest and it really puts it into context … the oldest one being 450 years old! Alas, so many I had to leave out…the guilt! 😀😀

  30. A beautiful post Annika and I so love your title. In your title and the quote by Thomas Keller you pull the whole history together to its essence. Passion for you ur art.
    Apart from being a brilliant writer you obviously are a good researcher. I had never heard of any Bartolommeo Scappi and how wonderful that he worked in the same era as Michelangelo and wrote this wonderful book for his apprentice.
    Carieme’s book of fine art in cookery and all it entails. So many masterworks.

    I have a big old Swedish cookery book with instructions, recipes, table settings. So many fascinating details. I still use it for parties, Christmas …and just to look at.
    Thanks Annika for this inspiring post, showing how art lives in all we do when we do it with
    the passion of the soul.

    1. Miriam, the art, love, care and time to write and compile these old books is phenomenal and I think that is a major compelling aspect of them all. Also that we can learn so much from these masterpieces – I love how you describe them so and you are correct! True classics, gems.

      I adore research and it was enjoyable learning about the books, the chefs, their lives…as always it is the latter, their private stories that really pulls me in. My mind will start spinning, why was Careme abandoned etc??

      Thank you so much for sharing your cookery book…it sounds wonderful and a great family treasure. Many thanks for your lovely and interesting comment, Miriam – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed chatting about the hidden art of cookbooks! xxx

  31. PS I am juggling a lot this week and just wanted you to know I will be getting your book and tackling it on February first….
    countdown is on –
    and hope you have a nice rest of the month author Annika

    1. Bless you, Yvette!! 😀😃 Thank you so much and lovely that you have a countdown to reading my book…I’ll be smiling for the rest of the day! hugs xxx PS. Wishing you a great rest of the month too – I can’t believe there is only a week left!! Where did January go????

      1. I know – the days flew by – and speaking of go – it is time for me to hit the sack – and I will reply to your comment on my post later tomorrow- ttys

    1. Yvette, it is rather unusual and anything about books grabs my interest. I was intrigued since we often think of cookbooks as only part of the modern era -this turns that belief on its head.

      1. yes – this does turn that belief – and I found an old cookbook for a baker friend of mine – more than 100 years old and she loves it – and when I skimmed it – i was amazed at how detailed it was on basics – of keeping a kitchen and whatnot – and I wonder if we need something like that – or maybe they have it nowadays and I have ont seen it – and side note – my least favorite modern cookbooks – anything rachel ray – my step-daughter loved her back in the day and gifted us some – ugh – never cared for her recipes or her show – IMHO that is…

  32. Wonderful. I love how the C19 colour printing processes make Mrs Beeton’s book so visually appealing and still so brightly coloured. Though I have to say the 1st edition cover does look a little overpowering. Thank you for this. 🙂

    1. I’ve never heard of C19 and I wonder if you can enlighten me, please. I guess it’s to do with the older printing style. Oh yes, this first edition cover is definitely a bit TOO much, edging on the garish. But what a belief in one’s product!! I looked at my husband’s modern copy and it was so boring and bland in comparison. Many thanks for your interesting comment.

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