Monday, November 23rd, 2015...11:31 am

A Revere-d Colonial Cookbook

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52407793+We don’t have the recipes that the Pilgrims used for the first Thanksgiving feast, but we can gain some insight about the food preparation practices of the Boston colonists of 150 years later, thanks to the survival of cookbooks like Susannah Carter’s The Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook (1772), just the second cookbook printed in America. Carter was English, and only in later editions did distinctively American dishes like pumpkin pie begin to appear, but her book was highly influential and went through numerous editions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries before cookbooks by American authors began to predominate.


In addition to its collection of recipes and household hints, the book includes two illustrations by a man then best known as a silversmith and engraver, Paul Revere. (Click images to enlarge)

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Cookbooks, like many other books designed for practical, everyday use, tend to survive in small numbers. Houghton’s copy of The Frugal Housewife is one of just five held in libraries today.

[John Overholt, Curator of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson, and Early Modern Books & Manuscripts, contributed this post.]

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