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Ralph Ayres' Cookery Book

by Jane Jakeman Bodleian Library
Pub Date:
Hbk 88 pages
AU$43.99 NZ$46.08
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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Every day at noon in the dining hall of New College, Oxford in the 1770s, a feast was laid for students and the dons, clad in white waistcoats and wigs. They sat down to cod with oysters, ham, fowls, boiled beef, rabbits smothered with onions, mutton, veal collops, pork griskins, New College Puddings, mince pies, and roots (vegetables). That was only the first course. For the second course, they were served roast turkey, a haunch of venison, a brace of woodcocks, snipes, veal olives, trifle, blancmange, stewed pippins, and preserved quinces. Ralph Ayres was the genius behind this daily repast, and his choice recipes are chronicled here in Ralph Ayres' Cookery Book.

If you've ever wondered what a London Wigg was or why plum cake does not actually contain plums, Ralph Ayres' Cookery Book will prove to be a most rewarding collection. Here the details of sumptuous British meals are meticulously presented, as is their larger context in the history of cooking. Recipes for such famous dishes as Quaking Pudding, Oxford Sausages, Damson Preserve, and other savory English delights fill the pages. Some, such as the famous New College Pudding, are still used today. The volume is beautifully produced, featuring a wealth of full-color botanical illustrations and elegant script reproduced from the original text, and also includes an informative foreword by Bodleian emeritus librarian David Vaisey.

A captivating glimpse into the world of eighteenth-century food and the culture of academia's apex, Ralph Ayres' Cookery Book is a valuable and engaging historical chronicle of British cuisine. It will appeal to social and culinary historians, as well as to the many lovers of griskin and collops.
Juliette Rossant |
"A charming and beautiful little book, fascinating as much for what he cooks as how he writes."

Kay Ackerman | Bloomsbury Review
"Lively. . . . The engaging presentation of the book makes up for any nutritional qualms one might experience. . . . The more self-indulgent among us will be content with musing upon the recipes, the times that produced them, and enjoying the elegant hand of their compiler."

Florence Fabricant | New York Times
"This slender volume reproduces the pages of the original, interspersing them with botanical illustrations. It offers some dishes that are quite appealing: quince marmalade, raspberry jam, veal rolled with bacon into ovals and roasted on a spit 'as with larks' and gingerbread glazed with dark ale."
Jane Jakeman is a novelist and editor of another historical recipe book, the award-winning Kidder's Receipts, published by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. She lives in Oxford.