Books for a Keen Cook
A New System of Domestic Cookery
A New System of Domestic Cookery by Mrs Rundell appeared first in 1806 and was frequently reprinted throughout the nineteenth century. The final edition was in 1893, when Mrs Beeton had been hugely popular for thirty years. It will be for food historians to work out why her book remained in print and Mrs Rundell’s vanished; but the fact is this is the first time Domestic Cookery has been reprinted for over a hundred years.
Persephone first came across her book in Jane Austen’s Cookbook by Maggie Black, since Domestic Cookery is one of the books Jane Austen would have used (had she cooked); our 1816 edition appeared in the same year as Emma. The Cookbook has ten of Mrs Rundell’s recipes: for beef-steak pudding, apple pie, solid syllabubs, apple puffs, salmagundy, oyster loaves, little iced cakes, pigeon pie, orange peel straws in syrup, and rout drop cakes.
Interestingly, Mrs Rundell’s book was also a bestseller in the United States (and has now been scanned in by Google): from 1806-44 there were fifteen American editions. And in that time there were sixty-seven English reprints, an astonishing number; which makes it even more inexplicable that Domestic Cookery vanished in the twentieth century. We are confident, however, that nearly two hundred years on Persephone readers will find it both useful and entertaining, as well as being a work of social history in itself.
A block-printed cotton in Lapis style 1808-15
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