I love old cookery books, and books of household hints; they are such interesting reflections on a different world, at an ordinary domestic level. Today food is one of the most popular topics for every sort of media, TV, internet, books and magazines, and cooks and cookery writers have become celebrities.
After the massive social changes of the first world war, changes which affected the whole population, more people were coking for themselves in their homes. Before the war, even quite ordinary families would have a cook, but by the 1920’s women were beginning to cook at home, and were wanting to cook different and interesting dishes. This trend had begun earlier, in the nineteenth centuries when writers like Eliza Acton were giving advice as well as recipes, but there still would have been kitchen maids and scullery maids and cooks in most middle class homes.
The Anglice Café Cookery Book, published in the early 1920’s was written and compiled by Mary A. Feilden. Miss Feilden is accredited on the first page as “M.C.A., U.C.F.A., Gold Medallist, Diploma London School of Cookery, etc., etc., etc., Certified Cookery Teacher and Demonstrator, Demonstrator by appointment of the Malaya Government… Private Lessons in all Cookery and Confectionery by Appointment.” I can’t find what the M.C.A. or U.C.F.A. are, nor anything about the cookery school.
Here is what she writes in her introduction:
PREFACE: I have been approached so often by Doctors, Health Officers, Educators, Pupils and Friends, that i have been urged to compile this book, and i have not the slightest doubt that it will be a very great help to the very many who need its aid. All these recipes have been carefully thought out before being tried and tested by myself, and it is my sincere wish that the scientific knowledge herein will lead to a deeper thought and a broader study of the preparation of food and of what to eat. it is essential that everyone should study the principals of diet if one would keep mentally and physically fit and avoid the various diseases which so lowers one’s vitality. Much time has been given by scientists to the study of the dietetic value of foods and this book contains many hints which, if carefully followed, will lead to a great improvement in the culinary art in many homes.
May I mention that since the year 1918 I have conducted Cookery Schools in most large towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, my students at one time numbering over 2,000 per week. I have also given demonstrations in the culinary art throughout the british Empire.
“But for life the universe were nothing: And all that has life requires nourishment.”