The NYU Fales Library recently
published 101 Classic Cookbooks: 501 Classic Recipes, which chronicles American cooking beginning with Fannie Merritt Farmer’s The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, published in 1896 and ending with Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, published in 1999.
“Cookbooks are, of course—in addition to providing recipes—one of the most important places to go to see how a culture thinks about its food,” says Marvin J. Taylor, director of Fales Library and Special Collections and co-editor of the book with Clark Wolf. “From Farmer to Keller, Americans forged a new cuisine, preserving the best American foods. They applied French culinary techniques, returned to the best, organic, local produce and meats, and borrowed new ingredients and new techniques from the entire world’s foods. A new American palate was born, and these books will show you how it happened.”
101 Classic Cookbooks: 501 Classic Recipes is a collaborative labor of love which began in the spring of 2010 with Taylor and Wolf each assuming separate, but equally important, duties of the editing. Taylor researched and wrote the majority of the text, which accompany the cookbooks, and Wolf marshaled the advisory committee and essay writers, and headed up the research to select the 501 recipes.
The recipes in 101 Classic Cookbooks were vetted and selected by an expert advisory committee that included such culinary luminaries as Jonathan Gold, Michael Pollan, Florence Fabricant, and Ruth Reichl.
“The committee included the top food writers, historians, journalists, academics, and chefs working in food studies today,” says Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. “They have done the seemingly impossible: They suggested a canon of some of the most influential cookbooks that explain who we are, why we eat what we do, and why we should advocate for the best possible foods and diets for everyone.”
101 Classic Cookbooks also features essays by guest authors and advisory committee members, including Alice Waters on her mentor Richard Olney, Florence Fabricant on Craig Claiborne, Laura Shapiro on the connection between Fanny Farmer and Marion Cunningham, and Scott Peacock on Edna Lewis
Each of the 101 cookbook entries includes biographical information and anecdotal details about the cookbook’s author. Nostalgic images from the vintage first editions appear throughout, including Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon, Elizabeth David’s Bouillabaisse, Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Ragu, Jacques Pepin’s Brioche, James Beard’s Pig Hamburgers, and Irma Rombauer’s Devil’s Food Cake Cockaigne