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The Cook’s Oracle;

and Housekeeper's Manual. Containing receipts for cookery, and directions for carving. Also, the art of composing the most simple and most highly finished broths, gravies, soups, sauces, store sauces, and flavouring essences; pastry preservers, puddings, pickles, etc. With a complete system of cookery for Catholic families. The quantity of each article is accurately stated by weight and measure; being the result of actual experiments instituted in the kitchen of William Kitchiner. Adapted to the American public by a medical gentleman. From the last London edition.

Published: [New York:] by J. & J. Harper, 1831

Stock code: 111310

Price: £400

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Expanded edition of the most famous of Kitchiner’s cookery books, “an acknowledged source of inspiration for Mrs Beeton, and mined by the writers of other household guides” (ODNB). First published in London in 1817, The Cook’s Oracle “was written in a down-to-earth style, and demonstrated Kitchiner’s familiarity with the entire process, from shopping, through preparing and serving the dishes, to cleaning up” (idem). Kitchiner also styled himself MD, falsely claiming a medical degree from Glasgow; his friend William Jerdan once commented: ‘His medical and gastronomical practices were wonderfully combined, insomuch that his guests could not tell whether what was set before them was a meal or a prescription’ (Jerdan, 282–7). “Numerous notices, in commendation of the work, might be selected from respectable European journals; but the mere fact, that within twelve years, seventy thousand copies of it have been purchased by the English public, is sufficient evidence of its reception and merits” (publisher’s advertisement). A well-preserved copy in a pleasingly unsophisticated contemporary binding.

Octavo (178 x 104 mm). Contemporary sprinkled sheep, smooth spine gilt-ruled in compartments, red skiver letterpiece to second, edges speckled red. 11 line-drawings to the text in the chapter on carving. Very lightly rubbed overall, spine rolled, a few lightly pencilled ownership contemporary ownership inscriptions and recipes to preliminary blanks, light toning, very occasional mild foxing, sigs. A and T4-8 starting with the latter slightly proud. A very good copy.

Bibliography: Bitting p. 262 for the second edition; Cagle 797-800 for the first edition and later UK editions.

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