Good Food Blog
The original domestic goddess?Posted at 12:30PM, 01 December 2009 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
Recently I was privileged to have access to a small collection of very old cookbooks in a private library. Two of these books were by Hannah Glasse, who wrote 'The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy - Which far exceeds any Thing of the Kind yet published - by a Lady' in 1747. The book remained phenomenally popular for the next 100 years; in fact it was so popular that a rumour was put about that it must have been written by a man!
'The Art of Cookery' was clearly written and easy to follow and was intended to be used by servants. Mrs Glasse declared, 'My intention is to instruct the lower sort... every servant who can read will be capable of making a tolerable good cook'. The recipes were more precise in measures and method than previous cookery books and were easier to understand. Her book also reflected the new standards of hygiene of the time and included instructions on how to clean cooking utensils and kitchen equipment. Until the 18th Century, cookbooks had been written by men for use by chefs in the wealthy and aristocratic great houses of the day. The majority of people had to rely on recipes handed down by word of mouth.
'The Compleat Confectioner' (1760), also by Mrs Glasse, is a delightful collection of puddings, sweets, pies, tarts and drinks. Puddings - savoury and sweet, boiled or baked - formed a major part of 18th Century fare. Indeed there were so many that foreign visitors to England were amazed at the variety and standard of English puddings.
Many of her wonderful old recipes are worth reviving
I think that many of her wonderful old recipes are worth reviving today, for instance 'Sugar of raspberries' (a dry sugar flavoured with raspberry juice); Violet syrup; Conserve of red roses; Liquorice cakes and a delicious sounding Cherry cordial.
Mrs Glasse was a remarkable woman. Although little is known about her, it's believed that when very young she married a lawyer and had eight children, and was also dressmaker to the Princess of Wales. She lived in the great days of English eating and cooking (she had no time for fancy foreign foods and was particularly critical of French chefs) and her deservedly popular book offers us a fascinating insight into the recipes and cooking styles of the 18th Century.
Who do you think qualifies as the original domestic goddess?