The Food Lovers' Cookbook Collection
Miss Parloa's New Cookbook: A Guide to Marketing and Cooking
Miss Parloa's New Cookbook: A Guide to Marketing and Cooking was an influential and groundbreaking cookbook published in the United States in 1891.
Maria Parloa was born in Massachusetts in 1843 and died in 1909 having written some thirteen cookbooks, published many pamphlets and delivered thousands of lectures. She was an early adopter of the now widespread practice of product endorsement, often using the products of specific companies in her recipes.
The first recorded lecture that she gave was on Cooking and Digestion in 1876 in New London in Connecticut (Mary J Lincoln, 1910).
She established the Miss Parloa's School of Cookery at 174 Tremont Street, just opposite the Boston Common, in 1877. (Note that this is not the same as the Boston Cooking School at 158 Tremont St that was established by the Womens Educational Association in 1879, two years after Maria Parloa established her school. Confusingly, Maria Parloa also often lectured at the Boston Cooking School and had a strong influence on the thoughts and practices of its first principal Mary Lincoln.)
She was popular on the lecture circuit and in the following year even toured England and France, where she no doubt gained inspiration from the culinary scene in those countries.
On her return to the United States in 1879 she published an unheralded book called First Principles of Household Management and Cookery which included some discussion on the chemistry of food, thus making her an early adopter of the scientific approach to cooking. Her subsequent books also reflected her interest in this topic.
She left Boston and moved to New York to open a school of her own near the East Village.
Among the other books that she wrote were The Appledore Cook Book (published in 1872), Camp Cookery (1878) and a book written especially for the flour company General Mills.
She was also a long term columnist for the influential Ladies' Home Journal which we believe she may also have partly owned.
And now to the book itself. The title Miss Parloa's New CookBook is followed by a subtitle of A Guide to Marketing and Cooking. The modern understanding of the word marketing should not be applied here. Rather Maria Parloa was urging women to go to the markets to buy their fresh produce and the first chapters provide advice on how to choose cuts of meat and fresh fruit and vegetables. In fact numerous diagrams of carcasses are provided with the cuts of meat to look for carefully labelled in the diagrams. She also describes a wide range of fish available in the markets towards the end of the nineteenth century. For each she also provides advice on the best time of year to buy them.
This is followed by an intriguing section of the best kitchen equipment to buy. In fact she sees equipment as a way of improving the lot of the housewife and urges the purchase of as many kitchen aides as possible. In fact she lists almost one hundred items she sees as essential for the modern kitchen ranging from fish kettles to two sizes of Russian-iron baking pans to a vegetable masher. (She may have changed her mind about this later in life, however.)
She then explores recipes starting with soups and then all the usual (to us now) areas such as meats, entrees, salads, poultry and so on. There is even a section on economical dishes.
In the soup section one of the most detailed recipes is for Mulligatawny Soup which would still work very well today, although we would reduce the cooking times significantly, especially after the pieces torn from the cooked chicken are returned to the pot.
A recipe for Veal Fricandelles (meatballs) is interesting because instead of soaking breadcrumbs (the agent used to lighten the meatball in this case) in milk she actually heats the bread in the milk until it forms a paste which is then used as a combined binding agent and to lighten the meatball. The egg yolks are not mixed through the meat to bind it but applied to the outside as a glaze prior to frying. After the meat is fried a roux is made and then thinned with stock prior to simmering the fried fricandelles for an hour.
When you get to the vegetable section it is necessary to be ruthless with the times she suggests (20 to 40 minutes for boiling peas and 1 to 2 hours for boiling carrots).
Like many other cookbooks published at this time this one is particularly strong on desserts and puddings. She has many excellent recipes in this area including a fine recipe for rice pudding and another excellent apple tapioca pudding. She also has a recipe for black pudding which is not a savoury pudding made from offal but rather a sweet pudding made from blueberries that is made in the fashion of a summer pudding.
This is a very long book (approximately 400 pages) with a large number of recipes but it is well worth adding to your library if you manage to locate a copy of this intriguing and complex woman's work.