People are cooking more now than they ever have, especially now that we are all at home and wondering what’s for dinner in ways that we may not have considered before. Most of us enjoy trying something different, and that is where these unique cookbooks come in.
The Internet Archive now has a collection of over 10,000 historical cookbooks available for your perusal in the Cookbooks and Home Economics collection. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to make, you will find an old cookbook that offers it to you.
It isn’t just about making an interesting dish, you can also learn a lot about the way people ate in the past. As you look back through the historical cookbooks, you begin to see the role of various family members and even gender comes into play.
For example, a recipe for Queen Victoria’s Toasted Cheese is available in a cookbook dedicated to bachelors. It’s a very unusual type of grilled cheese, as the instructions (jokingly) say you should mix the grated cheese with ale and champagne. It’s perfect for any bachelor, including those from 1906.
New brides will also find a cookbook that was dedicated to them, including a Maple Custard recipe. There are advertisements for all types of different products included in the cookbook, so you can see that shopping was also a part of eating prior to World War I.
Most of the cookbooks are American in origin, but immigration, which was common at the time, also had an impact on the recipes.
A 1796 cookbook, American Cookery, had a number of English recipes that colonists would use when they split off from the British Empire. It included some American ingredients, such as cornmeal and the style of preparation was simplistic.
More than 10,000 different historical cookbooks scans are available at the Internet Archive.