The holidays are upon us, and for a lot of people (myself included), that means cooking! So I thought I would take a look this time at some of the oldest cookbooks that we have in our collection. Here at Mead, the oldest cookbook I could find is from 1955. Below that, I’ve also got a list of the five oldest cookbooks in our whole Monarch Library System, including four you probably haven’t heard of and one you almost definitely have!
German Cookery by Elizabeth Schuler
This is an actual German cookbook (Mein kochbuch) translated and adapted into English so that, in the words of the foreward, “both experts and beginners will use it with pleasure and facility.” It’s quite a comprehensive little book, with sections for everything from egg dishes through fish, poultry, meat, dumplings, potatoes, vegetables, and desserts.
I’m hardly an expert on German cooking, but there are a lot of recipes in here that I’ve never heard of before. There’s a recipe for “Tanned Eggs” or “Soleier” that involves boiling the outside peels of onions and then cooking the eggs in that water. Then the cooked eggs (still in the shells) soak in the water for 24 hours before being shelled, cut lengthwise, and finished up with mustard and either mayo, parsley or ketchup.
And there are some familiar favorites in here as well – a recipe for Christmas Stollen, a way to make homemade marzipan. In fact, because the names of the recipes are given in both German and English, I learned from this cookbook that the Pfeffernusse that my mom used to make as Christmas cookies apparently translates to Peppernuts.
It also has that charming thing that you see in old cookbooks where each recipe follows the last instead of having its own page. Not that there’s anything remotely important about that, but it always makes me smile a little because I remember lots of the cookbooks I saw growing up were the same way.
The Oldest Cookbooks In Our Library System
#1. The Garland Cookbook by Laura Leonard (1946)
#2. The Mayville Cook Book and Directory by the Mayville Junior Women’s Club (1948)
#3. Old-Time Pickling and Spicing Recipes by Florence Brobeck (1953)
#4. The Slim Gourmet’s Soup Book by Marty Lederman (1958)
#5. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child (1961)