Cookbooks: Then and now

Because I'm a single, novice cook I usually cook from recipes from 'this decade' given that they're the best adapted to my circumstances/ingredients/nutritional needs.

But given my love of literature, I adore reading vintage cookbooks, and always have my lit critic's 'hat' on when I'm perusing them.

I love observing how 19th century cookbooks: -have few very specific directions because they assume people know how to cook -provide instructions about creating zillion-course dinner parties with huge amounts made to feed much larger households -the very rich foods during a time when people burned more calories -insanely long vegetable cooking times -menus for the sick, in an era where often people convalesced at home not in hospitals -the assumption in many cookbooks that people had servants -and the different cooking methods (like over open flames) and ingredients we don't use regularly now, like turtle, pheasant and so forth

With 1950s cookbooks -the unselfconscious use of politically incorrect 'ethnic' terms like 'Chicken Hawaiian' and 'Oriental Beef' -the assumption the reader was female -a refreshing lack of concern for childhood calories--lots of rich 'afterschool' treats -less processed foods, but when they are used, no apologetic attitude about using them -great kitschy names and food art, like hamburger buns with olives for eyes and ketchup for a smile -often smaller meat portions -more things 'done' to vegetables with sauces -lots of references to food that will 'please your man' in some cookbooks ;)

So, for those of you more experienced cooks that have used cookbooks spanning generations--how are cookbooks from various era of history different than cookbooks today?


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