I was excited to examine this week’s cookbooks, 1900’s Feeding the Professor by the Yale Faculty Wives Guild, and 1910’s What Salem Dames Cooked by the Esther C. Mack Industrial School. Both book topics seemed hyper-specialized and rather bizarre. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed at the lack of theme carried through in these books. I expected detailed descriptions of why this recipe was more suited for academics, and why witches favored that recipe. What I got was serious-minded collections, with content not all that different from your average Joy of Cooking.
The title What Salem Dames Cooked left me looking for the kind of witch-focused kitsch associated with Salem today. I hoped the book would show me the origins of that tourist-trapping fictionalization of the most infamous events of Salem’s history. I was a little sad when I found that the cookbook was written as straight, serious history. Though I found no recipes calling for eye of newt, I did find a direct predecessor of this very project! The book includes recipes from three historic cookbooks, The Compleat Cook’s Guide from 1683, The Frugal Housewife or Complete Woman Cook from 1730, and Old Grandmother’s Cookbook from 1800. There is also a section of recipes from women in Salem at the time the book was published. People in turn-of-the-century Salem were evidently interested in seeing how people used to cook, making sure that was not lost. The people of Salem in 1910, were apparently intrigued by trying out historic recipes, just as I am. From this book, I’ll be attempting Maple Creams from the 1900 section of the book.