The Cookbook: A History
Cookbooks are some of my favorite books to read! How many times have you grabbed a cookbook to browse through and been inspired to try something new? Maybe you even learned a few tricks as you read along. Today, whole aisles in book stores and libraries are dedicated to cookbooks. And if that is any indication, cookbooks are some of the most popular books to be printed and they are here to stay.
But where did the idea that we need a cookbook to help us cook come from? Just like anything in the food world, cookbooks have their own history to tell. They seem to have developed almost as more people began to want them. Before cookbooks, when paper was more scarce, people often memorized their recipes. Recipes were passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. As a mother taught her daughter how to cook, she also shared her recipes. Do you think you could carry a bread or cake recipe in your head? 🙂
The very first cookbooks were Babylon cuneiform tablets offering up recipes for stew, bread and cake. Later on, cookbooks use to be the prize possessions of nobles and kings. The first well known English cookbook is called the Forme of Cury written in 1390 by the personal chefs to King Richard II of England. Cookbooks became more popular in the 1700 and 1800s. Then as literacy began to improve among people, they became still more popular.
One of the biggest benefits of the publishing of cookbooks is that they helped establish a uniformity to cooking and baking. Everyone used the same recipe and hopefully got the same results. But cookbooks also often helped with tips and tricks for household managment as well.