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The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook

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This gorgeously illustrated volume began as notes on the collection of cookbooks and culinary images gathered by renowned cookbook author Anne Willan and her husband Mark Cherniavsky. From the spiced sauces of medieval times to the massive roasts and ragouts of Louis XIV's court to elegant eighteenth-century chilled desserts, The Cookbook Library draws from renowned cookbo This gorgeously illustrated volume began as notes on the collection of cookbooks and culinary images gathered by renowned cookbook author Anne Willan and her husband Mark Cherniavsky. From the spiced sauces of medieval times to the massive roasts and ragouts of Louis XIV's court to elegant eighteenth-century chilled desserts, The Cookbook Library draws from renowned cookbook author Anne Willan's and her husband Mark Cherniavsky's antiquarian cookbook library to guide readers through four centuries of European and early American cuisine. As the authors taste their way through the centuries, describing how each cookbook reflects its time, Willan illuminates culinary crosscurrents among the cuisines of England, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. A deeply personal labor of love, "The Cookbook Library" traces the history of the recipe and includes some of their favorites.


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This gorgeously illustrated volume began as notes on the collection of cookbooks and culinary images gathered by renowned cookbook author Anne Willan and her husband Mark Cherniavsky. From the spiced sauces of medieval times to the massive roasts and ragouts of Louis XIV's court to elegant eighteenth-century chilled desserts, The Cookbook Library draws from renowned cookbo This gorgeously illustrated volume began as notes on the collection of cookbooks and culinary images gathered by renowned cookbook author Anne Willan and her husband Mark Cherniavsky. From the spiced sauces of medieval times to the massive roasts and ragouts of Louis XIV's court to elegant eighteenth-century chilled desserts, The Cookbook Library draws from renowned cookbook author Anne Willan's and her husband Mark Cherniavsky's antiquarian cookbook library to guide readers through four centuries of European and early American cuisine. As the authors taste their way through the centuries, describing how each cookbook reflects its time, Willan illuminates culinary crosscurrents among the cuisines of England, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. A deeply personal labor of love, "The Cookbook Library" traces the history of the recipe and includes some of their favorites.

30 review for The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Darren

    The cookbook has an illustrious past, yet for many centuries such cookbooks were not ordinarily in the reach of the common person. Today cookbooks can act as a historical guide, showing changing culinary tastes and even the migration of different cultures. It is a lot more than just a collection of recipes. This book is truly a work of love, reflecting the authors love and passion for cookbooks, looking at four centuries of European and early American cuisine through the eyes of the printed word. The cookbook has an illustrious past, yet for many centuries such cookbooks were not ordinarily in the reach of the common person. Today cookbooks can act as a historical guide, showing changing culinary tastes and even the migration of different cultures. It is a lot more than just a collection of recipes. This book is truly a work of love, reflecting the authors love and passion for cookbooks, looking at four centuries of European and early American cuisine through the eyes of the printed word. In more recent times the cookbook has become more democratised, more personalised, more stylised, a transformation from a book of learning and education to often a more coffee-table, lifestyle affair, accessible by the masses rather than just by the master classes. Technological advances today mean that cookbooks can be something that nobody could have imagined even 100 years ago. Full colour photographs, adventurous layouts and even online resources. Yet the dependence on seasonal produce and the need to preserve ingredients has fallen away thanks to the same technological improvements. The world has became a lot smaller, tastes have changed and on the whole we have a more harmonised, international diet than perhaps people could have ever imagined. Old cookbooks help show the same changes in society, in attitudes, in ingredients and of course in the preparation of food. This is a heavy-going book due to the sheer mass of information being presented. Yet the authors have done well to make it relatively accessible to the reader. It is a fascinating walk through history and you can really immerse yourself in the book and soon wonder where the time has gone! Many images and reproductions are taken from these old works to help set the scene and provide further illumination. There are even some old recipes, in their original form, should you wish to try and recreate an old recipe or two. As befitting an academic work, there is a mass of notes and an extensive bibliography at the end of the book. That said, a great balancing act has been reached in making this a comprehensive academic work and a book that the interested amateur can read without any compromise being a necessary evil. Sadly the price of this book will make it unaffordable for many potential interested readers, yet the book does not feel expensive when you consider its unique, quality, informative nature. A lover of history, food and cookery books will find this a treasured, different, valuable addition to their collection. If you are just looking for old recipes or a guide to recreating older dishes then this book is not for you, yet for those interested in food, cooking, history and even sociological change this would be worthy of consideration. The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook, written by Anne Willan, Mark Cherniavsky & Kyri Claflin and published by University of California Press. ISBN 9780520244009, 344 pages. Typical price: USD50. YYYYY. // This review appeared in YUM.fi and is reproduced here in full with permission of YUM.fi. YUM.fi celebrates the worldwide diversity of food and drink, as presented through the humble book. Whether you call it a cookery book, cook book, recipe book or something else (in the language of your choice) YUM will provide you with news and reviews of the latest books on the marketplace. //

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lee Ellen

    The Cookbook Library began as a project for a pair of antique cookbook collectors in order to showcase many of the items in their collection; the result is a delicious history of food and kitchen life through the ages. Secondarily, it is also a history of publishing as seen through the refined focus of food writing. Although the cookbook in its modern form with lists of ingredients and measurements and clear, precise instructions did not exist until quite recently, it seems that the urge to perm The Cookbook Library began as a project for a pair of antique cookbook collectors in order to showcase many of the items in their collection; the result is a delicious history of food and kitchen life through the ages. Secondarily, it is also a history of publishing as seen through the refined focus of food writing. Although the cookbook in its modern form with lists of ingredients and measurements and clear, precise instructions did not exist until quite recently, it seems that the urge to permanently record our transient feasts is as old as printing itself. The first cookbooks were written either for professionals in the trade or to glorify a wealthy patron rather than provide knowledge for the masses. Furthermore, there was not a concept of dedicating books entirely to food; thus, other household pursuits such as gardening, medicine, even surgery could be included. I suppose it is all connected in the end, but as the centuries progress and books become cheaper, along with the explosion of literate adults after the Renaissance, the idea of books devoted completely to recipes and food became more commonplace. The format of the book is truly engaging: one may sit down and read it all the way through, though one may gain much by merely turning the pages in a less dedicated manner. Each chapter focuses on a particular era starting from antiquity and working all the way up through the eighteenth century. (Antiquity and the Middle Ages, with its paucity of material, is combined in a single chapter.) Along the way the reader gets to see the shifts in ingredients, methods, tools, even social conventions that define the entire food culture in each period. There are several sidebars that give more detail on an impressive miscellany of things – some of the topics covered include: the concept of humors in medieval times and the way it influenced all cooking; women in the fifteenth-century kitchen; the various stages of the confectioner’s craft; the roots of French haut cuisine in the cooking of the bourgeoisie...etc. The authors were generous with the use of illustrations and sample pages from their collection, and they give one the feeling of walking through a museum with lots of background material. To deepen the feeling of immersion, the author provides a few recipes that represent the tastes of each period yet are assembled with modern ingredients and methods. The recipes are even fairly easy to follow: no apprenticeship needed!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tima

    This book is a cross between a history lesson on cookbooks, a look into a cookbook author's book collection and a cookbook. It tells how cookbooks began and takes you through time to discover where the cookbooks we use today came from. This book is well written and for a foodie might be fascinating history. I am not a foodie and was very quickly bored to tears. I received a kindle ARC (Advance Reader Copy) which makes it difficult to judge. It was very full of grammatical, spelling and type error This book is a cross between a history lesson on cookbooks, a look into a cookbook author's book collection and a cookbook. It tells how cookbooks began and takes you through time to discover where the cookbooks we use today came from. This book is well written and for a foodie might be fascinating history. I am not a foodie and was very quickly bored to tears. I received a kindle ARC (Advance Reader Copy) which makes it difficult to judge. It was very full of grammatical, spelling and type errors. This made it very difficult to read. But I'm hoping that these were removed from the final copy. I also think it would also be easier to read in print. I didn't hate the book because the writing was good. But the subject matter and numerous errors soon had my eyes glassing over. This book isn't for the casual reader, it's for serious foodies with a desire to understand more about cookbooks and their history. I received this book free of charge from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Ann

    This book is not for everyone, but I loved it. In looking at the history of cookbooks, Willan and Cherniavsky are able to trace other culinary developments such as mealtimes, restaurants, and the fork. The illustrations and recipes are wonderful and I appreciated the chapter on collecting cookbooks.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ashani

    Great work ! So much food history in the times we didn't knew about ! Great work ! So much food history in the times we didn't knew about !

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    This book is BEAUTIFUL. It's also big. Kind of like an art book. It really only goes through the mid-19th century, so if you're interested in modern cookbook history, it's not really for you. It's also rather recent, so it might be hard to find in the library. More a history of food and eating than actual cookbooks (although that information is in there), this book is full of wonderful little aside sections that have a detailed history on a certain aspect of food (like, female cookbook writers i This book is BEAUTIFUL. It's also big. Kind of like an art book. It really only goes through the mid-19th century, so if you're interested in modern cookbook history, it's not really for you. It's also rather recent, so it might be hard to find in the library. More a history of food and eating than actual cookbooks (although that information is in there), this book is full of wonderful little aside sections that have a detailed history on a certain aspect of food (like, female cookbook writers in a specific time period or the history of the fork). It's a really good introduction to lots of little things and seems very well-researched (although it doesn't go into *huge* depth on most topics, so you'll need to follow up). It's full of illustrations and pictures from cookbooks throughout the centuries, and each section has recipes at the back, including the original text, an explanation of the food, and an easier-to-follow version with measurements and instructions for modern cooking appliances.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elliot Williams

    A lot of interesting information, and enjoyably written. But because it was based primarily on the authors' personal collection, I sometimes doubted whether we were really getting the whole story - were there really so few cookbooks published outside England and France, or was that just what the authors' collection focused on? Also, the book often felt more like trivia rather than history. There was a narrative to the story they told, but it often got lost in details that didn't contribute to an A lot of interesting information, and enjoyably written. But because it was based primarily on the authors' personal collection, I sometimes doubted whether we were really getting the whole story - were there really so few cookbooks published outside England and France, or was that just what the authors' collection focused on? Also, the book often felt more like trivia rather than history. There was a narrative to the story they told, but it often got lost in details that didn't contribute to any larger argument. However, I did really like the recipes that were modernized. I haven't tried any of them (yet), but they made the historical cookbooks seem more present and approachable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Rogers

    This was disappointing. Historians really need to take a lesson from those currently writing scientific books: make it interesting. There's a reason so many people find history dry, and I've studied history for 20 years. Some of the sidebars (that take up 2 pages in most cases) were fascinating. The lengthy titles in French, Latin or Italian or Medieval English were tiresome. Perhaps the book just wasn't what I was expecting and as an history text it was perfect but for me every chapter was a sl This was disappointing. Historians really need to take a lesson from those currently writing scientific books: make it interesting. There's a reason so many people find history dry, and I've studied history for 20 years. Some of the sidebars (that take up 2 pages in most cases) were fascinating. The lengthy titles in French, Latin or Italian or Medieval English were tiresome. Perhaps the book just wasn't what I was expecting and as an history text it was perfect but for me every chapter was a slog.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Diana Duncan

    I love reading cookbooks not just using them for their recipes. The background information about the development of the recipes fascinates me. This book was extremely interesting for its explanations of the changing cuisine in the countries and centuries covered by the authors' cookbook collection. The explanations of terminology were helpful. I especially loved the illustrations from their cookbooks that showed the evolution of kitchen tools and techniques. The modernized recipes in the book we I love reading cookbooks not just using them for their recipes. The background information about the development of the recipes fascinates me. This book was extremely interesting for its explanations of the changing cuisine in the countries and centuries covered by the authors' cookbook collection. The explanations of terminology were helpful. I especially loved the illustrations from their cookbooks that showed the evolution of kitchen tools and techniques. The modernized recipes in the book were interesting but I don't think I'd be tempted to try more than a couple of them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandie

    As a lover of food history, this book is interesting, charming,and educational. A good book for a history buff

  11. 4 out of 5

    Abraham Ray

    great read about the cookbooks of history!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liz De Coster

    Very interesting but chopping formatted - there were so many topical boxes and asides it was hard to keep track of the overall timeline.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Although I'm still reading the book, I'm giving it 5 stars. The authors are charming, insightful writers and the history behind the recipes is informative and interesting. Although I'm still reading the book, I'm giving it 5 stars. The authors are charming, insightful writers and the history behind the recipes is informative and interesting.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Minneapolani

    Beautiful and thorough. Don't read it in bed if you're sleepy- you'll drop it on your face and cut your brow because it is HEAVY. Despite the scar, I still loved it. Beautiful and thorough. Don't read it in bed if you're sleepy- you'll drop it on your face and cut your brow because it is HEAVY. Despite the scar, I still loved it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mindy Burroughs

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  17. 5 out of 5

    Slygly

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chrisan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Crystal King

  20. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Bertelsen

  22. 5 out of 5

    H C Ridley

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pinakee Dey

  24. 5 out of 5

    Middlethought

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Farris

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vincent

  27. 4 out of 5

    Thom

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stockfish

  30. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

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