One of the leading cooks and teachers of her day, Maria Parloa (1843–1909) also wrote nearly a dozen popular cookbooks. Orphaned at a young age, she entered domestic service to support herself. With a strong aptitude for the craft and an interest in teaching, she later founded two cooking schools, one in Boston and, following its closure, one in New York City.
Parloa became very much sought as a lecturer, both in the United States and in Britain, and was paid handsomely to do so, enabling her to purchase her own home and write books that were widely distributed. Her work—along with that of contemporaries Sarah Rorer and Christine Terhune Herrick—are the staples of the late Victorian era, taking an important step on the way to the “modern” approach of Fannie Farmer and her contemporaries.
This 1887 publication, subtitled A Guide for All Who Would Be Good Housekeepers, expertly covers all aspects of domestic management, from the ideal kitchen layout to tips that everyone the profession ought to know. The bulk of the book contains hundreds of recipes for all occasions from daily bills of fare to menus for entertaining. The thoughtfulness and guidance could only come from someone with experience who genuinely seeks to improve the skill set of housekeepers at all levels.
Our copy is a stated 21st printing, only bearing the original 1887 date. It had been well-worn, as one might expect given its utility, so we have had this copy rebacked with black cloth, the original spine laid on. The binding is sturdy and the interior largely clean, though showing some staining. The top edge bears some divots from precarious storage over the years. Overall, a quite nice example from a hugely influential figure in US domestic management.