The Accomplisht Cook

By Robert May

Original Publisher
Dodo Press
Date of publication
1660
ISBN
1503306410

says

The “Bill of Fare,” a showy 39-course feast, which includes elaborate roasts, custards, and jellies, takes center stage in this 1660 English cookery book. Authored by a royalist cook, the ancient collection also includes shout-outs to two European staples that eventually made a splash stateside: the potato and the turkey.

Recommended by

Frances Bissell

Food writer

The seventeenth century was one of the richest, most vibrant and exciting periods in English culinary history with fascinating cookbooks. First published in 1660, this is the work of a chef who cooked in the aristocratic houses of England, having been trained by his father, also a chef, in the kitchens of seventeenth century Parisian nobility. Dishes in the “French fashion” abound, as do recipes inspired by sources as diverse as Turkey, Poland, Portugal and Italy. In true chef’s style he also has a penchant for random phonetic spelling, which I find very endearing. Thus on one page we have, for halibut, both “hollyburt” and “holyburt”. Most of all, I like his recipe for “wivos mequidos”, none other than a dish of “huevos” or eggs “in the Spanish fashion”. Apart from the extreme deliciousness and ‘cookability’ of many of his recipes - lemon cream flavoured with orange flower water, little Portuguese sponge cakes flavoured with rosewater, a lobster pie, a very fine rice pudding, a crayfish pottage, some interesting ways with veal including small veal or chicken pies and delicious oyster pies and oyster jellies which have become part of my own culinary repertoire - I find the book enormously comforting in that it demonstrates what I have long held to be true. There has not been a revolution in the British kitchen, merely an evolution. We have been here before.

Bee Wilson

Food writer and historian

This is the book to turn to if you want to be reminded that cooking is not all a story of progress. In 1685, May understood more about flavours than many cooks today. Highlights include 21 ways of making omelettes, including one with asparagus and verjuice.

Glyn Hughes

Food historian

Subtitled: "The art & mystery of cookery. Wherein the whole art is revealed in a more easie and perfect method, than hath been publisht in any language."

Peter Ross

Culinary librarian

The most complete record of England's finest period of creative and innovative cooking (Elizabethan and Jacobean) - it is also usable by the modern cook

Tom Jaine

Food writer

Just the most important 17th century cookery book and a pioneer in so many ways.

Peter Brears

Food historian

Ken Albala

Food historian