Mrs Beetons Cookbook

Joined Jan 18, 2010
Of every cookbook I have ever read, I always come back to this one. Im not sure if it because my mother had it on her kitchen shelf and I used to browse through it while she was cooking, probably. But I really think it rekindles traditional cooking and preperation methods, and reminds us of foods that are no longer popular today. There are cuts of meat we dont know how to cook and ways of preparing certain types of meat that has gone out of fashion. For example, who cooks mutton any more. If you know how to, it is one of the most delicious meats out there. What do you think?
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Mrs. Beeton was sort of the Julia Child of her day, and her book was immensely popular.

In the U.S., unfortunately, she's mostly remembered, humorously, for only one line: Go out in the yard and catch a plump chicken.

But you're right. The book is a great guide to late 19th century cookery practices.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Apologies for being contradictory, but I don't think the "go out in the yard" quote is from Mrs. Beeton. She was a proper, middle-class, genteel, Victorian English woman who did not expect those of her readers who had a yard to catch their own chickens. More than anything else, when it comes to doing anything like catching a chicken, her book is a guide to the nouveau riche housewife for handling the servants.

She did have some good advice which remains valid today and even a few good recipes. But, by and large her recipes represented the worst of bland, British overcooking. For instance, she recommends boiling large carrots for 2 hours.

To top it off, modern scholarship suggests her recipes were pretty much all plagiarized. (Mrs Beeton couldn't cook but she could copy, reveals historian | UK news | The Guardian.)

I believe the book went out of print in the teens or early twenties, but it's been republished modernly for its historical interest (as opposed to the utility of its content). By the thirties, if I'm not very much mistaken, contemporaneous references were either dismissive or nostalgic.

You two rascals might find this site helpful for it's biography as well as for the book itself: Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management -

Ritzy, did your mom actually use the recipes, or just have the book? Perhaps, as a gift from her mother or relic of her youth?


PS. Beeton's entire book, is open source and available all over the net both as html and pdf, and an abridged paperback edition is still in print if you want it.

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