In early 19th century France, in the long shadow of the Revolution, the general public began to experience haute cuisine for the first time. Former chefs to the aristocracy found themselves newly unemployed and opening restaurants. The word gastronomy first appeared in 1801, and from there eating and cooking became science and art. Indeed, it was Marie-Antoine Carême’s L’Art de la Cuisine Française (1833) that established the terminology and techniques still in use in culinary schools and fine dining kitchens today.
Prior to Carême, however, was B. Albert, of whom we know very little. We do know that he was the chef de cuisine for Cardinal Joseph Fesch, an uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte. He published in 1812 Manuel complet d'economie domestique, a remarkable example of French cuisine in its early post-revolution stage.
By 1822 the book had a second edition at which point the title was changed to Le Cuisinier Parisien. The succeeding 23 years saw an additional 6 editions, perhaps an indication of the rapidly growing influence of the Parisian aristocracy’s eating habits.
With over a thousand recipes—including some for cooking for the sick and convalescent and others for economical fare—it is a thorough and enjoyable peek at a gastronomic work that predates Carême’s more well-known titles.
First editions are very rarely seen; later printings are also quite scarce. We are honored to offer here the 1838 sixth edition. The craftsmanship is remarkable: handsomely half calf bound with a gilt stamped spine, marbled endpapers, and sturdy paper stock. Our copy shows clear evidence of use over the years with some staining to the book block and one torn page repaired with scrap paper—in 1860 based on the date on one such scrap. The case shows a fair amount of shelf wear along the edges, and the spine is missing one inch at the head, though we have reinforced the remaining portion. We are confident in the strength of the binding and have opted not to pursue additional repairs in the interest of preserving the original materials. A wonderful find.