OP: The One Maid Book of Cookery

OP: The One Maid Book of Cookery


A. E. Congreve
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If you suddenly find yourself in the unfortunate predicament of having only one maid, have we got the book for you! 

In the rapidly changing and urbanizing early 20th century, household servants were becoming less common among the upper and middle classes. “Gentle” people were living in smaller homes or city apartments and required fewer servants, if any at all. 

Mistress A. E. Congreve, “first-class diplomėe” but otherwise anonymous to us more than a century later, came to the rescue with this 1913 publication (Herbert Jenkins, London). She seeks to teach basic skills to those who might have previously relied on hired help. She instructs her readers on the art of cookery, catering, and shopping, as well as on the ins and outs of kitchen equipment, dish washing, and food storage. The latter two thirds of the book offers guidance in cookery terms and methods followed by recipes, from soups, stocks, and sauces to proteins, pastries, and beverages.

The book is written with empathy and concern for this new generation with little-to-no basic cookery or household management skills. The advice is thorough and thoughtful with the tone of someone truly rooting for the reader. Congreve says in the introduction, “Shopping, housekeeping, and cooking, are games that are beloved in childhood. Later on the game becomes a serious occupation, enjoyable or not according to the skill with which it is played.”

Our copy is a first printing (later printings are indicated by the change in title to The One Maid Cookery Book) in what we would consider Very Good condition, given the age of the book. The case and binding are sturdy, though the head and foot of the spine are rubbed and fraying, particularly around the corners. The book block, printed on sturdy stock, is clean and unmarked, save for a few age stains to the endpapers. A fascinating glimpse into Western domesticity.
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