The First Famous Home Cook Turns 310 Today

March 28, 2018

Before there was Julia Child or Joyce Chen or Madhur Jaffrey or Marcella Hazan, there was Hannah Glasse. If you’ve made your way to the Google homepage today, you’d have noticed a doodle of a woman loading a baker’s peel topped with Yorkshire puddings into an oven—that's her. It is the 310th anniversary of her birth.

Glasse’s Yorkshire pudding recipe, featured in her seminal 1747 cookbook, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, is one of the earliest ever published. (In the doodle, her oven looks a bit industrial, but hey, this is the 1700s, we're talking about.) In so many ways, Food52 wouldn’t be around without Glasse’s contributions to the world of cooking, eating, and writing about the two.

Her cookbook wasn’t the first guide to cooking, but it was the first that spoke to those cooking at home. “I believe I have attempted a branch of Cookery, which nobody has yet thought worth their while to write upon,” she writes in the introduction to the book. Other cookbooks at the time focused on fine dining, recipes tailored for only the highest echelon of professional cooking, often French. “I dare say that every servant who can but read will be capable of making a tolerable good cook, and those who have the least notion of Cookery cannot miss being very good ones,” she wrote. And while some of what she says doesn’t necessarily translate to our 21st century lives—servants, antiquated language—the crux of her message continues to ring true: with guidance, anyone can cook.

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The Art of Cookery was so democratic in its approach that in the original version, Glasse used the pseudonym “A Lady." The book remained in print for almost a century and has over 20 editions. They cover a bevy of recipes, like venison pasty or syllabubs (whipped cream desserts flavored with white wine or sherry), as well as home keeping advice, like ridding one’s bed of bugs with a slightly questionable mixture that involved mercury, according to an article on Vox. Though some of her techniques have not stood the test of time, her legacy of making home cooking an exciting—and possible—endeavor has.

Have you heard of Hannah Glasse? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.

1 Comment

Lori F. March 28, 2018
At least Google made me smile with Hannah's home fireplace pizza oven. I even imagined the smell coming off my screen