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Ralph Ayres' Cookery Book
edited by Jane Jakeman
introduction by David Vaisey
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2006
Cloth: 978-1-85124-075-3

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.

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