The Physiology of Taste: Practical American Cookery | Volume 1 | Jules Harder | Cookbook | 1885 Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

The Physiology of Taste: Practical American Cookery Volume 1 by Jules Harder
San Francisco

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Country: United States

The Physiology of Taste: Practical American Cookery Volume 1 by Jules Harder is a thorough study of vegetables including their cultivation and techniques for cooking. It forms the first of a planned series of 6 cookbooks, however the others were never written.
But just who was the man who urged in the introduction to the book for people "in preparing all alimentary plants for the table, the best, freshest, and those in season, should always be chosen". He even anticipated the Thomas Keller's exhortations by insisting that "in cooking green vegetables properly, they should be put into a vessel while the water is boiling - the pot remaining uncovered'. He then explained that this technique would help the vegetables retain their colour.
However a streak of arrogance shows through when he states that "the author may, without egotism, again state, that he feels confident in his ability to make this series on American Practical Cookery a standard work, because he is practically acquainted with the details of every branch on which he writes, and, at the same time, familiar with the broader requirements of the culinary profession".
Harder had practiced his profession in both Europe and the United States finally becoming the chef at the famous Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
The book is divided into a series of 1750 articles where each article discusses a vegetables, herb or related plant or cereal in alphabetical order. The first discussed is the Alexander plant and the last is Wormwood. Early in the book, therefore there is an eleven page article devoted to growing, preparing and cooking globe artichokes. He explains carefully how to prepare the artichokes including cutting off the top one quarter of the leaves and scooping out the choke then holding them in acidulated water. The explanations are very detailed and very thorough.
When we reach the section on green beans he describes 29 different varieties including the broad bean, the scarlet runner and the large white lima.
This is a thorough book on a large scale with much detail that is still relevant today.
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