Book Review: A Hastiness of Cooks, by Cynthia Bertelsen

Published by Monday, August 12, 2019 Permalink 0

Book Review: A Hastiness of Cooks

by Margie Gibson

I’ve flirted with historic cooking for years, but somehow, the relationship never took off. I would get frustrated by arcane language and ingredients and turn to something more familiar and easier to cook. Cynthia Bertelsen’s new book, A Hastiness of Cooks, has provided the catalyst that just may spark a beautiful relationship.

This slim volume’s subtitle, A Practical Handbook for Use in Deciphering the Mysteries of Historic Recipes and Cookbooks, For Living-History Reenactors, Historians, Writers, Chefs, Archaeologists, and, of Course, Cooks, precisely summarizes the book’s aims and audience. Courtney Nzeribe’s many illustrations remind the reader that the book’s ultimate subject is food and its preparation.

Bertelsen has provided the organizational structure and clarity that will help the reader analyze recipes from earlier centuries. This volume concentrates on the food on European tables from the Middle Ages to the 1700s. Spanish and English recipes get prime attention—after all, the territories that Spain and England conquered were huge and were the source for a steady stream of new foods entering the European repertoire. Interestingly enough, England, whose early cooks were influenced by France, Italy, Persia, the Iberian peninsula, and Turkey, led the way in the production of manuscripts on cooking—which suggests to me that British cooking may have gotten a bad rap in the years since World War I.

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The Rambling Epicure Book-a-Month Club

Published by Monday, September 11, 2017 Permalink 0

THE WINNER IS “WHAT SHE ATE” and we’ll start discussing it from September 15 to 30, 2017.

Click here to join.

In The Rambling Epicure threads, it’s become clear that many of us like reading about food as well as cooking it, eating it, talking about it. With that in mind, it seemed like a sort of “foodies’ book club” (with apologies to those who hate the word “foodie”) might be an interesting thing to try. Jonell has a ton on her plate right now, and I’m always looking for an excuse to avoid work, so I’ll start off by moderating, but that’s just for convenience and for the moment.

As a beginning, we thought we would suggest four books. Pick the one you’d most like to read and discuss, vote for it in the comments, and on Friday, September 1, we’ll announce a winner. We’ll give everybody time to acquire and read the book, and we’ll open things up to chat and argument on Friday, September 15 and continue until September 30. 

If there are other books you’d like to suggest, that would be great. Please note them in the comments and I’ll keep a list, then we’ll run the most popular suggestions for the next cycle.

For this opening cycle, please vote for ONE of the following:

Since this is our first attempt, please feel free to add any suggestions about dates, timing, books, and how might generally build this reading group together.

All these books are available as ebooks.

Click here to join.

Maggie Topkis

P.S. We are now taking suggestions for books for the next The Rambling Epicure Book-a-Month club in October.


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