One of the major figures in American cooking during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sarah Tyson Rorer (1849–1937), born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was instrumental in the development of domestic science in America. While still in her thirties she began to teach cooking and went on to establish the Philadelphia Cooking School in the early 1880s.
She travelled extensively around the country, drawing huge crowds for her Chautauqua lectures and her classes: in 1904 she held a number of immensely popular cooking demonstrations at the St. Louis World’s Fair. In the magazine world, she wrote regular columns and served for many years as food editor at the Ladies’ Home Journal, later occupying a similar post at Good Housekeeping. Above all, she was a prolific producer of cookbooks, many of them dealing with single subjects such as oysters or chafing dish cookery.
Among Mrs. Rorer’s nearly two-dozen books, one that has attracted plaudits for more than a century is an unpresuming volume whose full title is New Salads for Dinners, Luncheons, Suppers and Receptions; With a group of Odd Salads and some Ceylon Salads. Published in 1897, it is admirable for its freshness and simplicity, a marked contrast with what is seen in so many late Victorian cookbooks.
Following a chapter on dressings, she presents about fifty recipes, from conventional side salads made with chicory or cress to heartier preparations meant as meals—a molded cream of chicken salad, shad roe salad, and a lavish salad with crab meat. The “Odd Salads” include one of herring with roast beef and another so-called Japanese salad made with vinegared rice, fresh sardines, and hair-like slivers of beets. Ceylon salads, we are informed, are accompaniments to cold roast beef or to mutton; the major flavoring components are lemon juice, paprika, ginger, onion juice, and a cream made from draining shredded coconuts. Some are strikingly modern in character.
The handbook-sized volume (4” x 7”) is bound in a cheerful green cloth with decorative red stamping. It is typographically attractive and, not surprisingly, contains at the back advertising pages for no fewer than 17 of the highly productive Mrs. Rorer’s other books. Although there was a later version—1912—our copy is the 1897 first edition. It is in very good condition, clean and unmarked, tightly bound, showing only a ¼” white ring on the front. One recipe clipping is held by a straight pin on the front free endpaper. Enclosed in the book are several additional clipped out recipes, which happily left no stains and are now enclosed in a plastic sleeve.Mrs. S. T. Rorer