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The Mary Frances Cook BookPrevious Book Next Book
By Jane Eayre FryerPhiladelphia, The John C. Winston Co., [1912].Interest: Children's Cookery
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Introduction
The Mary Frances Cook Book; Or, Adventures Among the Kitchen People, By Jane Earyre Fryer; Full Page Illustrations By Margaret G. Hays, Other Illustrations By Jane Allen Boyer. Philadelphia, The John C. Winston Co., [1912].
This volume was selected to represent the several dozen children's cookbooks published in America in the period covered by this project. It is one most loved by people who owned a copy in their childhood. In my thirty years as an antiquarian cookbook dealer, this was the children's book most often requested. And, for good reason. It is a beautiful volume, with charming illustrations, a lovely story line and good, workable recipes.
In addition to cooking recipes, much can be learned from this book. In common with most other early cookbooks this one has hidden messages telling little girls what their obligations are: they must be obedient, kind, courteous, have good manners, take responsibility, obey parents, serve the males in the household and other quaint Victorian ideas.
In this volume, the mother has become ill, but fortunately she had fulfilled one of her motherly duties by writing cooking instructions for her daughter to use, should the need arise. When the mother is taken away to recuperate, Mary Frances tries to use the book her mother had written with such foresight. But the little girl is quite unsure of herself and still needs help. Thus she is delighted to find that the cooking utensils begin to talk and instruct her. She becomes quite a success in the kitchen and prepares a homecoming dinner for her mother's return. Her mother praises her and is very proud of her accomplishments.
However, one need not look for any hidden messages here; simply enjoy this beautiful and inventive children's cookbook.
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