Sharing the Stage

//Sharing the Stage

Sharing the Stage

Books that put French cooking on a pedestal abound from the seventeenth century to the present day, but what of books in which French cooking shares the stage with recipes from other countries?  Except for an 1885 book by Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) that was published as an anonymous work, early examples from North America that I have come across so far are by women of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a time when writing about food was a field still dominated by men (in the French and English-speaking parts of the world).  The following few books found publishers in Boston, Montreal, New Orleans, and New York City, with one book seeing a subsequent edition published in Paris.


Home Cookery: A Collection of Tried Receipts, both Foreign and Domestic (1853) by Mrs. J. Chadwick includes among its American dishes recipes that are of French, German, Italian, Brazilian, Belgian, Irish, Dutch, Spanish, and Chinese origins.  There is also a recipe for bean soup identified as a West India dish (79) and one for a Norway cake (11).  The author is “endeavoring to cater for all tastes,” as stated in the book’s prefatory page.  Some of the French dishes that she chose are French Plum Pudding (28-9), A Doub.—A French Receipt (113), Lamb’s Kidney au Vin.—A French Receipt (116), A French Way of Dressing Pigeons (125), Mutton Chops, à la Parisienne (126), and To stuff a Leg of Mutton.—A French Receipt (127).  There is also a recipe for something that is intriguingly called French Bologna Sausages (119).


In 1866 there was the publication of Jennie June’s American Cookery Book, the fuller title being Jennie June’s American cookery book, containing upwards of twelve hundred choice and carefully tested receipts, embracing all the popular dishes, and the best results of modern science, reduced to a simple and practical form. Also, a chapter for invalids, for infants, one on Jewish cookery, and a variety of miscellaneous receipts of special value to housekeepers generally.  In her preface Mrs. J.C. Croly notes that “A very small number of the printed cookery and housekeeping books have been written by women, and still less by persons possessing any practical knowledge of the subject of which they are treating.”  The French-style foods in this book include French Soup (30), Blanquette of Veal (49), Chicken with cheese—A French dish (89), French Batter (101), French Rice Pudding (158), French method for making apple jelly (224), and French Rolls (240).  Other dishes of nondomestic origin include German Pancake Soup (32), Westphalia Loaves (54), Baked Irish Stew (56), Turkish Dalma (59), East India Salad (121), and Portuguese Rice (151), not to mention the chapter devoted to Jewish food.  New Yorkers would be amused to see that there are recipes for Staten Island Lemonade (273-4) and New York Mock Duck (87).


La Cuisine Creole: A Collection of Culinary Recipes from Leading Chefs and Noted Creole Housewives, Who Have Made New Orleans Famous for Its Cuisine (1885) attributed to Lafcadio Hearn appeared first in New York from the publisher W.H. Coleman, and there was a second edition (also from 1885) in New Orleans by F.F. Hansell & Bro., Ltd.  The book’s introduction presents New Orleanian Creole cuisine as “blending the characteristics of the American, French, Spanish, Italian, West Indian and Mexican.”  Recipes for traditional French foods are included, such as Grenouilles frites (32), Pain perdu (134-5), Charlotte russe (142), Soupe à la Reine (250-1), and Bouille-abaisse (252).


Clever Cooking for Careful Cooks (1888) by women from the Church of Saint John the Evangelist in Montreal is considered to be the first community cookbook that had appeared in Quebec, according to Elizabeth Driver’s Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949 (2008).  On the page before the cookbook’s preface, there are the following words: “The once celebrated President, DuPaty, of the French Assembly, remarked, nearly a hundred years ago, to the astronomer LaPlace, that he considered the discovery of a new planet to be far less important than that of a new pudding,—since we never could have puddings enough, while of planets there were more than we knew what to do with.”  The recipes of French origin in Clever Cooking for Careful Cooks include Béchamel Sauce (17), Rognons [à] la Brochette (33), Beignet Soufflé (52), Potatoes [à] la Proven[ç]ale (53), and Beignes—Old French Recipe (70).  There is also a recipe called Jombalayah—A Creole dish (32).  Other recipes from the community include ones for the Anglo-Indian dish Kedgéree (14), Gulasch—German Recipe (31), Prince Albert Pudding (41), Tomatoes and Macaroni—Neapolitan (53), Short Bread—a Dumfriesshire Receipt (69), Everton Toffy (82), and Polish Salad (85).


In Foreign Kitchens: with Choice Recipes from England, France, Germany, Italy, and the North (1893) by Helen Campbell (1839-1918) brings the reader into the food mindset of each country for a good number of pages before the recipes are given.  In the chapter for French cooking the recipes include Bouillabaisse à la Provençale (37), Burgundian Pâté (42), and Normandy Spice Bread (44).  The recipes in this book were first published in the Boston magazine The Epicure, but gathering them into a book had been desired by many people, according to the author in her preface.  She adds that these recipes are also “for varying the monotony of the ordinary menu.”  In addition to this cookbook and texts about home economics, Helen Campbell wrote influential works concerning poverty and women wage-earners in certain parts of the US and Europe.  Her book The Problem of the Poor: A Record of Quiet Work in Unquiet Places (1882) grew from her observations of women working in New York City.  She also wrote Prisoners of Poverty: Women Wage-workers, Their Trades and Their Lives (1887).  To write her book Prisoners of Poverty Abroad (1889) she did a fifteen-month study of wage-earners in London, Paris, Italy, and Germany, with commentary about workers in Belgium and Switzerland.  She received an award from the American Economic Association for her book Women Wage-earners (1893).


British, French, Italian, Russian, Belgian Cookery (1916) by the sisters Grace Clergue Harrison (1869-1944) and Gertrude Clergue (1871-1951) was published in Montreal.  An edition called Allied Cookery (1916) was published in New York City.  The compilation of recipes was a fundraising project to aid farmers in France whose lands were destroyed during World War I.  The proceeds from these cookbooks helped France greatly, and the Clergue sisters then decided to work on a French-language edition with an augmented number of recipes and variety of countries.  This was published two years later in Paris as La Cuisine des Alliés : Recettes américaines, anglaises, belges, françaises, italiennes, japonaises, russes, serbes, etc (1918).  In a front-page article of Le Figaro : journal non politique on January 25, 1919, Gabriel Hanotaux (1853-1944), member of the Académie Française and president of the Comité France-Amérique, writes that money from sales of the English-language editions had already been distributed to refugees and orphans in Aisne. He notes that the French edition has already gotten requests for two thousand copies in Canada and the US, and he calls on the people of France to purchase this book.  Advertisements for this book appeared in La Guerre aérienne illustrée : revue hebdomadaire in the November 7th and 21st issues of 1918 and the December 5th and 12th issues of that same year.  The book was also advertised in the January 23, 1919 issue of the weekly satirical journal La Baïonnette on page 63.  In 1920 the Clergue sisters were awarded the Médaille de la Reconnaissance française.



























By | 2018-10-07T16:25:58+00:00 October 31st, 2017|Food Blog|Comments Off on Sharing the Stage