The two old cookbooks that are among José Andrés’ favorites

Leader Jose Andres He likes to cook, eat and also read. In his new podcast, Longer tables, the Spanish chef commented on one of his passions: collect old cookbooks

The chef likes these types of specimens because he considers them “a window to the past” perfect to know the kitchens and the life of our ancestors. On its shelves it has hundreds of books, the oldest of all written in the 17th century. Among his favorites, José Andrés mentions tworelics from his personal library with which he learned about cooking and the way of life of yesteryear.

“The pleasure of cooking”

Jose Andrés’ love of old cookbooks led him to seek out an exclusive copy: a first edition of The pleasure of cooking, the most published cookbook in the United States. This first edition was written in 1931 by Irma S. Rombauer, a housewife in St. Louis, Missouri. It is a self-published, which took the title of The Joy of Cooking: A Compilation of Trusted Recipes with Informal Culinary Discussion. included more than 500 recipes tested by the author herself, her comments and illustrations made by her daughter.

Since its publication, The pleasure of cooking it has been reissued up to nine times, last in 2019. Its enormous success is due, in part, to the excellent reception it received among the American middle class at the time. The recipes were designed for this social group that was looking for simple dishes to cook at home. The methods Irma wrote about were different from those in the other books, simpler and more affordable. These were combined with their comments, jokes, good advice and family storieswhich has made this book a classic among cookbooks.

Different editions of ‘The pleasure of cooking’
Wikimedia Commons

A person makes the purchase at Mercadona, in a file image.

‘The Housewife of Virginia; Or, Methodical cook’

Originally published in 1824, this recipe guide was written by a well-known Virginia hostess named Mary Randolph. Renowned for being the best cook in Richmond, this housewife has compiled cooking instructions for everything from soups to liqueurs, beef dishes, fish, sauces, cakes, preserves… traditional southern cuisine which are carefully compiled in this exclusive edition.

Mary Randolph, author of one of the old books in the Chief's collection
Mary Randolph, author of one of the old books in the Chief’s collection
Wikimedia Commons

As well as a collection of recipes, this comprehensive cookbook also offers a fascinating insight into pre-civil war southern customsplus how-to instructions for making soap, starch, and cologne, cleaning silverware, drying herbs, and more.

Quite a discovery: a Spanish recipe that traveled to America

Speaking of this book, José Andrés told a great find he did while enjoying his reading. In Virginia’s Housewife There are not only recipes from the tradition of the southern United States. In this one there is also ten spanish dishessome like polenta or old clothes.

What caught the chef’s attention the most in the book was the presence of the gazpacho, called “gazpacho” in the book. The recipe included the basic ingredients of a traditional gazpacho, with tomatoes, green pepper, cucumber, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and bread. But it wasn’t the one we know nowthe modern version for which household appliances such as mixers are required.

When blenders didn't exist, ingredients were cut into pieces
When blenders didn’t exist, ingredients were cut into pieces
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Mary Randolph had collected a recipe similar to that found today in some remote villages of Spainwhere the ingredients cut into large pieces and arranged in layers. A cooked tomato sauce is sprinkled on top, then it is placed in the refrigerator.

Resource photo of a restaurant.

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