The Godfathers and Godmothers of cooking
Long before social media, the internet and even TV in some cases, the cookery Godfathers and Godmothers were born and began sharing their culinary skills and knowledge with others.
There are a number of the old-school foodies that I wish I could find today on Instagram – a glimpse into their worlds, seeing how they created some of the most marvellous dishes that are the staple dishes of today’s chefs still, watching them work, seeing those finished dishes and having an insight into lives that we can now only imagine….yes, these are people that I would love to see on Instagram today.
In lots of ways, this is where it all started, as Mrs Beeton was a Victorian writer whose ‘Book of Household Management’ is arguably one of the most famous cookery books ever published.
In times when your household management was a measure of where you stood in society, Mrs Beeton not only provided recipes for all occasions, she wrote the complete manual of how a well ordered household could be achieved.
It is widely recognised that almost all of the recipes in her books weren’t her own – it is the way she wrote such clear instructions that helped ladies with no experience of cooking recreate the meals, or supervise their own cooks to do the same.
In her own words: “I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways. Men are now so well served out of doors – at their clubs, well-ordered taverns, and dining-houses – that in order to compete with the attractions of these places, a mistress must be thoroughly acquainted with the theory and practice of cookery, as well as be perfectly conversant with all the other arts of making and keeping a comfortable home.”
Obviously this is a hilarious point of view for the modern woman. But there is no doubt that a delicious meal (cooked by woman or man) is a delight to share with family, friends and relatives, and is the mainstay of our health and happiness.
Widely considered to be the chef who brought French cuisine to the American housewife, her first cookery book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ was a best-seller which tapped into the American interest in French culture in the early 1960s. It’s helpful illustrations and precise attention to detail helped to make fine cuisine accessible.
The book is still in print and we can only imagine the impact that this chef would have had on Instagram had it been available in the day.
Her TV career began after she was interviewed on a book review show and demonstrated how to cook an omelette. Viewers loved it, and the rest is history!
In 2009, a film of Julia Child’s start in the cooking profession was released and her story runs alongside that of blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book. I particularly love the scene where she learns to chop piles of onions!
Just had to mention this very enthusiastic guy. I love the catchphrase that he was known for in his TV appearances “Ooh! It’s so good!” (which, incidentally, is registered as a sound trademark in the US!)
Mr Food was an American TV chef, who pioneered quick and easy cooking, wrote 52 cookbooks, and led the way for other TV food personalities who followed after.
His recipes were practical in their preparation techniques and used readily available ingredients, and his philosophy was that “anyone can do it”. He wrote 3 books about cooking for diabetics too, which is quite significant as specialist dietary cookbooks were not nearly so available then as they are today.
The Galloping Gourmet (Graham Kerr)
In terms of TV personality and character, the Galloping Gourmet has it in abundance.
His was one of the first classic cooking shows. This cook was charismatic, jokey, incredibly engaging and energetic, demonstrating obscenely rich and decadent recipes. Later he was dismissive of his earlier cookery style, citing the emerging high obesity rate and began substituting low fat options for dairy fats and using less sugar and generally making his dishes much more healthy by today’s standards.
He has written a number of cookbooks, often associated with his television shows, and has made guest appearances on the shows of some of the world’s greatest cooks and chefs.
And hey – don’t forget about me!
You CAN follow me on Instagram, try my recipes and share your own. Let’s make cooking a journey that we can share together. In the words of Ruth Reichl, “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”