We treasure vintage cookbooks. Expand your collection with these new titles that have old-fashioned flair and retro charm.
Sometimes new cookbooks call to me, but once cracked open, they can be intimidating, guilt-inducing, or worse, nearly useless. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time nor inclination to run out and buy special ingredients or equipment to try a new recipe.
It’s a sharp contrast to the bulk of cookbooks published in the first half of the 20th century, in which you’ll find reassuringly simple recipes that inspire and educate without requiring expensive gear or hard-to-find spices. These cookbooks weren’t about culinary one-upmanship; they were about practicality. They showed home cooks how to be thrifty and courageous, something I’m inspired to promote with this blog.
In the early-to-mid 20th century, Americans cooked from scratch mostly because there was no other option. They needed solutions: what to make with a brisket and not much else, or how to cope with half a carton of milk that was smelling suspicious. The solution? Turn to a book that’s seventy-five years old and eat exceedingly well as a result.
Older cookbooks were written for practicality. They made very few assumptions about your kitchen: as long as you have basic pantry staples, a bowl, a spoon, and an oven, you’re good to go. Older recipes also don’t have long lists of unusual ingredients, so you don’t have to feel stupid that you don’t have a tablespoon of Herbs de Provence; instead, you’re encouraged to focus on technique, seasoning according to your own taste and whim.
I hope you enjoy some of these vintage cookbooks and would love to hear from you if you’ve made a recipe from their pages.