Welcome to 365 Foreign Dishes: A New Take on an Old Cookbook

For some time now, I’ve been obsessed with old cookbooks. I don’t mean cookbooks from the mid-1900s. I’m talking cookbooks that are at least 100 years old. 365 Foreign Dishes: A Foreign Dish for Every Day in the Year is one such book. I plan to make the recipes found within new.

Cookbooks were so different back then. Recipes were a brief paragraph. There were no ingredient lists and many lacked precise cook times and measures. Many of the cookbooks from 100 years ago were written for people who had a solid grasp of cookery. Some others were only then starting to include measures within that paragraph of text. And many still didn’t include any instructions, or front matter, to help the cook learn the basics. A large number were written for professional chefs who only needed bare minimum instructions.

Ox Feet fried.BOIL them till tender, skin and split them, take out the bones and fry them in butter ; when they have tried a little, put in some mint and parsley shred small, a little salt, some beaten pepper ; beat the yolks of eggs, some mutton gravy and vinegar, the juice of a lemon or orange, and nutmeg : lay it in the dish, and pour the sauce over it. Some love a little shred onion on it.
From THE LADY’S ASSISTANT published in 1787. What looks like an ‘f’ is often an ‘s’ because of how printing presses worked back in the day.

Until the Victorian age, unless you were lower class, you weren’t doing your own cooking. Then cookery became something fashionable to learn; something to brag about. That is when cookbooks started to evolved.

Why I Chose 365 Foreign Dishes

I have so many PDFs of old cookbooks. While working on Crip Up the Kitchen over this last year, I’ve been pouring over old cookbooks, looking for one to kick off a project that will give new takes to old cookbooks. When I saw the title, I was hopeful. When I opened the PDF, I knew I had it.

There is a dish for every day of the year. There is absolutely no front matter explaining technique nor anywhere else in the book. The recipes are one short paragraph. Some have measures, others don’t. There are no cook times and no portion information. What a perfect book with which to begin this fanciful idea.

While some may find the above to be challenging, I’m going to enjoy making the recipes accessible, while teaching through explaining the decision-making processes and what some of the more archaic terms mean. I will also have to figure out substitutions for some no-longer-common-ingredients, such as cow’s heads and rabbit.

The recipes for this project will be different from those on Disabled Kitchen and GardenEach recipe will include a screenshot from 365 Foreign Recipes. The preamble will be longer as I explain all the decisions I made along the way and what things mean. I’m hoping these preambles will not only be educational but also entertaining.

And while this site will be different in that regard, I will be making the recipes as disability-friendly as possible.

Content Notes for 365 Foreign Dishes

The book was originally published 1908. As you can imagine, there is racism found in a cookbook about foreign food that was written by white people. The racism comes mainly in the form of Orientalism in recipe titles and in the book’s index. I will be providing content notes at the beginning of recipes, where appropriate. And I will be including a content note when I share the recipes on social media.

The cuisines covered in the book are: Asian, Austrian, Bavarian, Belgian, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Swiss, and Viennese. Because of many geopolitical changes since 1908, some dishes are classifed in ways that are no longer valid. As an example, Norwegian dishes are listed as Swedish in the index as the book was written around the time Norway voted to become independent (1905).

Not All Recipes Will Succeed

For the most part, I will be cooking the recipes as written. I can tell you, the recipes were not tested before the cookbook was published. As a result, not all recipes will succeed. It is also a guarantee that there won’t be enough time to redevelop the recipes into something that will succeed for this stage of the project. If I can see a way to quickly as easily salvage a recipe as I’m preparing it, then I will do that and include that as part of the story. There will be stories about the failures that I’m hoping will be just as entertaining. It is my hope, that at some future date, I will revisit the failed recipes and make them successful.

The First Recipe Post

The first recipe will be posted on January 1, 2023, with a new recipe posted each day of the year. At least, that is the hope. Disability may have a say that I need to respect and I will try my best to catch up.

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See you in the new year!

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