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[Cookery Books]

Of the making of cookery books there is no end; and I hold it to be rather a public benefit than otherwise that there should be scarcely a solution of continuity in the production of culinary manuals; because, although in the vast majority of cookery books (always excepting the late Miss Acton and the Happily living Miss Mary Hooper) there is usually a considerable proportion of nonsense, there is scarcely one (especially if it be compiled by a lady) that does not contain hints always entertaining and occasionally useful on the subject of household management. As to the Art of Cookery, it is rapidly retrograding, and will retrograde more swiftly still, as well-to-do middle class people grow more and more "stuck up," and have their "set dinners" sent in from the pastry cook's instead of having them cooked at home.

I find "Wholesome Cookery" by Madame Marie de Joncourt (Kegan Paul and Co., 1882) to be not only entertaining, but very useful. It might, indeed, be called "Elegant Cookery" as well; for some of the menus are quite little gems of crispness, symmetry, and good taste. The Authoress is possibly a lady who has long lived abroad; for I notice that in all her bills of fare she insists on the appearance of a vegetable as a distinct and independent plat. I know nothing more deplorable in the English cuisine than the ghastly apparition as an accompaniment to almost every dish of that Goblin Tuber the boiled potato: the real Curse of Ireland, the begetter of bad cookery and idleness and unthrift, of famine, and discontent and sedition.

I rejoice to find that Madame Joncourt recommends the use of mussels in the garnishing of a "sole á la Normande." Great numbers of middle-class English people regard mussels as a shell fish eaten by the "lower classes" only—the classes who devour "whelks" and "winkles." Reluctantly even will the British bourgeoisie eat scollops; and they have never heard of clams.

Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2257—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, August 5, 1882, p.131