We’re going to start and end this week with research books. On Monday, Winnie gave us a wonderful look at a book containing information and recipes from San Francisco in the late 1800s. Now I want to share a really cool book I discovered a couple of years ago. I mentioned it during our fun week of recipes back in September, but I didn’t get into what a truly great research resource this is.
THE ORIGINAL WHITE HOUSE COOKBOOK
A Comprehensive Cyclopedia of Information for the Home,
Mrs. P.L. Gillette & Steward of the White House Mr. Hugo Ziemann, 1887 Edition
Wives of Our Presidents,
Those Noble Women who have
Graced the White House,
And whose Names and Memories
Are dear to all Americans,
Is affectionately dedicated
The Original White House Cook Book has a wealth of information that isn’t restricted to a single locale, a single setting in our history. There are complete menus showing family dinners or how a fancy dinner was put together in the late nineteenth century in America; dyeing or coloring cloth–and eyebrows; how to repair a hole in a silk gown; even table etiquette.
Here’s an example. General Grant’s Birthday Dinner started with clams, went to Consomme Imperatrice Bisque de Crabes (crab bisque), then to a variety of hors d’oeuvres, followed by trout, mushrooms, filet of beef… and then they got to the entrees! They served chicken and veal with green beans and asparagus, followed by sorbet to cleanse the pallet. Next came squab and salad, then fruits and pastries. The meal ended with glace, or glazed fruit, petit fours and coffee.
I feel stuffed just reading about it.
The book includes the seating arrangements for a dinner when the President was in attendance, how glassware should arranged on the tables, even what to put in the ladies’ corsages and the men’s boutonnieres.
Toward the back of the volume is a section dedicated to caring for those who visit the White House; how colds are caught; how to clean black lace; and how to render muslin clothing less likely to catch fire. In the author’s words: “Remember this and save the lives of your children.”
You can even learn how to make Rose Water or Bay Rum, Cold Cream or Hair Invigorator. Or my particular favorite, how to remove freckles. And no, I haven’t tried it yet – but I might.
This is a fun book with a wealth of helpful information. For example, if your heroine is a mail-order bride who grew up working in a wealthy household, you can find what kinds of skills she might have learned in this book.
THE ORIGINAL WHITE HOUSE COOKBOOK 1887 Edition, Mrs. P.L. Gillette & Steward of the White House Mr. Hugo Ziemann [I located it on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com; Borders.com has a different edition available]
Have you discovered a research book that you feel is exceptional? Share it, please.