Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook: An interesting book by Maria Parloa

Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook: Introduction

Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook: A Guide to Marketing and Cooking was an influential and groundbreaking cookbook written by teacher and author Maria Parloa and published in the United States in 1891.

Maria Parloa was born in Massachusetts in 1843 and died in 1909 having written some thirteen cookbooks, published many pamphlets and delivered thousands of lectures. She was an early adopter of the now widespread practice of product endorsement, often using the products of specific companies in her recipes.

The first recorded lecture that she gave was on Cooking and Digestion in 1876 in New London in Connecticut (Mary J Lincoln, 1910).

She established the Miss Parloa’s School of Cookery at 174 Tremont Street, just opposite the Boston Common, in 1877.

Note that this is not the same as the Boston Cooking School at 158 Tremont St that was established by the Womens Educational Association in 1879, two years after Maria Parloa established her school. Confusingly, Maria Parloa also often lectured at the Boston Cooking School and had a strong influence on the thoughts and practices of its first principal Mary Lincoln.

She was popular on the lecture circuit and in the following year even toured England and France, where she no doubt gained inspiration from the culinary scene in those countries.

On her return to the United States in 1879 she published an unheralded book called First Principles of Household Management and Cookery which included some discussion on the chemistry of food, thus making her an early adopter of the scientific approach to cooking.

Her subsequent books also reflected her interest in this topic as well as the broader topic of kitchen technology of which she was a great advocate.

In fact, throughout her life she published eleven books (including Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook) which included a number for food companies such as ‘One Hundred Ways to Use Leibig Company’s Extract of Beef’.

Among the other books that she wrote were The Appledore Cook Book (published in 1872), Camp Cookery (1878) and a book written especially for the flour company General Mills.

She left Boston and moved to New York to open a school of her own near the East Village.

She was also a long term columnist for the influential Ladies’ Home Journal which we believe she may also have partly owned.

Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook: The Book

But now to the book, Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook, itself. Why was it so influential? We have already mentioned her deep interest in the chemistry of cooking and this comes through in many of the recipes.

She also provides precise instructions for assembling the recipes unlike many authors of her day (although Eliza Acton certainly was influential in this respect many years earlier).

For example, the following recipe for Spring and Summer Soup Without Stock is illustrative of the detail she provides for her readers.

Quarter of a pound of salt pork, or three large table-spoonfuls of butter; three large young onions, half a small head of cabbage, three potatoes, half a small carrot, half a small white turnip, three table-spoonfuls of flour, two quarts of water, six large slices of toasted bread, salt, pepper, one small parsnip. Cut the pork into thin slices; place these in the soup pot and let them fry out slowly. Have the vegetables (except the potatoes), cut quite fine, and when the pork is cooked, put the vegetables into the pot with it. Cover tightly, and let cook very gently, on the back of the stove, one hour. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Add the water, which should be boiling.

Let simmer gently for one hour, and then add the potatoes, cut into slices, and the flour, which has been mixed with a little cold water. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer gently an hour longer. Have the toasted bread in the tureen. Turn the soup on it and serve. A pint of green peas, cooked in the soup the last half, is a great addition. When the butter is used, let it melt in the soup pot before adding the vegetables.

Maria Parloa

There are over forty recipes in Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook of this level of detail and all equally interesting and delicious, even though the ingredients are probably cooked longer than is the fashion these days.

This also comes through in the Vegetables section where a table is provided showing the suggested cooking times for each vegetables. Her suggestion for green peas is 20 to 40 minutes and for cauliflower 1 to 2 hours!

There are a lot of recipes for various ways to cook beef, lamb, partridge, quail and many types of fish. All are of reasonable detail and could be adapted to modern methods quite easily.

But it is the desserts section of Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook where the reader will find many wonderful dishes ranging from the simple to the elaborate. Some use strikingly modern techniques such as this appealing recipe for walnut ice cream.

One pint of the meat of walnuts (the American are the best), pounded fine in a mortar; one pint of milk, one quart of cream, two small cupfuls of sugar, four eggs, one-fourth of a teaspoonful of salt. Beat the eggs with one cupful of sugar. Put them and the milk in the double boiler, and stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken; then add the salt, and put away to cool. When cold, add the cream and nut meat, and freeze.

So, Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook is not just an historical curiosity. Rather, just like Eliza Acton’s tome, it can provide inspiration for modern cooks just as it did for the many thousands who were inspired by Maria Parloa’s writings over 100 years ago.

We can do no better than to finish with some sentences of Maria Parloa which still ring so true today.

Then food, to do its highest and best work, must be of the best quality, prepared carefully (but always to retain its simplest form), partaken regularly in a cheerful room and in cheerful company.

Maria Parloa, 1887

We have included Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook in our Foodtourist Top Fifty Cookbooks.

You can download either a Kindle version of the book or a plain text version by clicking on the following link:

Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook

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