Cookbooks offer a unique and valuable way to examine American life. Their lessons, however, are not always obvious. Direct references to the American Civil War were rare in cookbooks, even in those published right in the middle of it. In part, this is a reminder that lives went on and that dinner still appeared on most tables most nights, no matter how much the world was changing outside. But people accustomed to thinking of cookbooks as a source for recipes, and not much else, can be surprised by how much information they can reveal about the daily lives and ways of thinking of the people who wrote and used them. In this fascinating historical compilation, excerpts from five Civil War–era cookbooks present a compelling portrait of cooking and eating in the urban north of the 1860s United States.
Feeding the North, by Kelly J. Sisson Lessens and Adam Arenson
Seeing the Civil War Era through Its Cookbooks
Mary Hooker Cornelius, The Young Housekeeper’s Friend
Mrs. S. G. Knight, Tit-Bits; Or, How to Prepare a Nice Dish at a Moderate Expense
P. K. S., What to Do with the Cold Mutton: A Book of Réchauffés, Together with Many Other Approved Receipts for the Kitchen of a Gentleman of Moderate Income
Ann Howe, The American Kitchen Directory and Housewife
What Shall We Eat? A Manual for Housekeepers, Comprising a Bill of Fare for Breakfast, Dinner, and Tea, for Every Day in the Year
Glossary of Nineteenth-Century Cooking Terms
A key moment in American culinary history is brought to life by readable, authoritative essays and excerpts from contemporary cookbooks. Fascinating.
—Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History
This book provides us with a glimpse at both food habits and the evolution of the genre of cookery books during the American Civil War period, and hence should be of interest to both food historians as well as American studies scholars. An introductory essay provides a general background of changing trends in food habits in the North in this period, and helps to set the scene for the considerable economic and social changes that were in train. Selections from a series of historic cookbooks, many of which are not likely to be familiar even to those versed in food studies, form the centerpiece of this intriguing book, and are accompanied by extremely useful introductions and notes to assist the reader in interpreting the recipes and other materials provided, such as details on medicinal preparations. These cookbooks not only provide a window to what people were likely cooking and eating, but also capture their authors’ reflections on the changing roles of women and servants or slaves and the baseline skills and practices assumed in the kitchen in this critical period of transition in the United States.
—Rachel A. Ankeny, Program Coordinator for the Graduate Program in Food Studies, Associate Professor, School of History and Politics, Associate Dean/Research for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the University of Adelaide, Australia
This book provides a fascinating selection of cookbooks from the 1860s, giving readers a taste of this crucial—if quotidian—aspect of American life. The introductory essays thoroughly ground readers in the historical context of the Civil War, explaining not only the role that food played in that conflict but also how the war reshaped American diets for decades to come. I recommend this volume for undergraduate food history courses and readers interested in historical cookery.
—April Merleaux, Assistant Professor of History, Florida International University
Food has long been recognized as a critical factor in determining the outcome of the Civil War, but no work until Food in the Civil War Era: The North has explored this topic in any depth. Its comprehensive examination of the Northern agricultural system—built on the westward expansion of agricultural lands, the exploitation of new labor-saving implements, and a growing transportation network—well explains the increase in farming surpluses that fueled a vibrant market economy. Especially delightful, however, is its depiction of contemporary domestic life—household provisioning, foods consumed, methods of preparation and cooking, commonly used tools and equipment—obtained through perusing popular cookbooks, middle-class advice manuals, novels, and newspaper cartoons portraying working-class and immigrant culture. The result is a well-rounded and rich understanding of not just food in the Civil War, but also “the nation’s changing material, economic, and cultural landscapes.”
—Marsha L. Richmond, Associate Professor, History of Science, Department of History, Wayne State University
- 2015 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) book Award, Culinary History, Finalist
- 2014 Gourmand International Award, Best Series Cookbook Published in the United States