Titles by Kij Johnson are available for purchase online

A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, by Late Maître d’Hôtel and Chief Cook to Her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria Charles Francatelli, a 1993 facsimile of an 1861 book. I figure it takes a lot of brass to write a cookbook for poor people when you are working for the richest woman in the world, and as expected, this book includes a lot more butter and cream and eggs and a lot less gruel than you might expect — but I noticed some other interesting tbings, especially when this book is read so close to so many other 19th-century cookbooks:

There’s a lot more herbs and spices than you would expect. Everyone seems to be expected to have allspice, anise, bay, cardamom, chervil, cinnamon, cloves, curry, dill, ginger, lavender, mace, marjoram, mustard, nutmeg (popular in everything), pennyroyal, rosemary, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, orange water, rose water, lemon brandy, pearlash and who even knows what else. Okay, maybe they don’t all own all of these, but many recipes involved four or more.

Parsley is a vegetable, not an herb. I have now seen three parsley-sauce recipes, which treat it a lot more like spinach than thyme.

Scrag of veal is a Thing. This is the neck of a veal, and several cookery books so far have told me that you can make two meals for a family out of a scrag.

Vanilla is not a thing. (Which I knew: vanilla is and has always been expensive.) Cookies and cakes are flavored with things like orange water and cardamom.

You can make your own beer, and how hard can it be? Three and a half pages of 8-point type, that’s how hard it can be.

When in doubt, make a reduction of the drippings and turn it into a sauce. Or a soup. All soups seem to be based on slicing six onions thinly and then proceeding.

Hyssop tea is a remedy for worms.

Is this a yes? yes, it is.

Next up: Arethusa, Lady Harland’s Commonplace Book, from 1827-1833.

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