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Cookbook Controversy

In response to:

Gospels of American Cooking from the April 8, 1965 issue

To The Editors:

My stomach rumbled this protest as I read Mr. Field’s fanciful diatribe on Mrs. Perkins’s edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook: Besides being wrong on lamb cookery (30 degrees too low in his temperatures) Mr. Field fails to mention those recipes in both soups and seafoods where Mrs. Perkins’s Boston insights have enabled her to actually improve on French originals. His comment that the current edition of Fannie Farmer is more cosmopolitan than the original is true—but then such other monuments of the New England Civilization—Harvard College and Webster’s Dictionary are more cosmopolitan too. Those pioneer Boston gourmets, The Saturday Club, had to depend on Brillat-Savarin’s, Physiology of Taste, or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy. They would be delighted to know that a century later a New England publication had incorporated many of Savarin’s insights. I apologize for lapsing into Mr. Field’s manner of pontificating on things gastronomical—an area where circumspection and a modest relativism is the only wisdom. But it is my taste buds, my olfactories, my stomach against his.

Richard D. Birdsall

New London, Connecticut

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