The Woman of 1987
The cook’s month off:
I was loaned “Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping” published in 1880. It was dedicated to ‘those plucky housewives who master their work instead of allowing it to master them’.
I looked up the word plucky in the dictionary, thinking it would mean quick to act, incisive, imaginative, energetic, but not so! Plucky means a brave or courageous person.
As I quote some gems from the “Buckeye Cookery”, I wonder whether all women in the 1880s were brave and courageous, or just thought themselves so?
The Woman of 1987 will chuckle when she reads the preface by the author. It clearly portrays a vision of how homemakers were regarded. The language used in this text keeps the ‘dainty’ approach intact.
“Fortunately it is becoming fashionable to economize, and housekeepers are really finding it a pleasant pastime to search out and stop wastes in household expenses, and to exercise the thousand little economies which thoughtful and careful women understand so readily and practice with such grace. Somebody has said that a well-to-do French family would live on what an American household in the same condition of life wastes, and is in the blunders and experiments of the inexperienced. Women are slow to learn by the experience of others.
Every young housekeeper must begin at the beginning (unless her mother was wise enough to give her careful training), and blunder into a knowledge of the practical duties of the household, wasting time, temper and money in mistakes, when such simple instructions as any skillful housewife might readily give would be an almost perfect guide.”
The author then goes on to say that this book will solve all those problems and help the young lady become that perfect housewife. I love reading these old texts and thought it especially appropriate to share with all of you, at this, the start of 1987. One precept has not changed since 1880 and I pass the charge to all of us: “Economize time, health and means, and you will never beg.”
Cheers, housekeepers of 1987! We will attempt to work on recipes that incorporate nutrition, taste, ease of preparation, and economy!
P.S. From the Cellarmaster:
Rosemarie, why did you assume that all the readers of your column are “housewives?”