The First

The Real Housewives of Early America: The Bountiful Tale of the First American Cookbooks

THE FIRST PODCAST The women who produced the first cookbooks ever written for American kitchens.

“Over the river and through the woods” into the history of early American cuisine.

The first published European cookbooks in the world weren’t meant to enshrine ideal meals but rather to inform a woman of her place in the household with titles like The English Housewife, The Compleat Housewife, The Frugal Housewife. But for American cooks, they lacked any ingredients that were native to the American colonies.

In 1796 a mysterious woman named Amelia Simmons published American Cookery, the first compilation of recipes (or receipts) using such previously unknown items as corn, pumpkins and ‘pearl ash’ (similar to baking powder). This book changed the direction of fine eating in the newly established United States of America. But Amelia herself remains an elusive creator.

Join Greg through a tour of 70 years of early American eating, identifying the true ‘melting pot’ of delicious flavors — Dutch, Native American, Spanish, Caribbean and African — that transformed early English colonial cooking into something uniquely American.

FEATURING early American recipes for johnnycakes, slapjacks and gazpacho!

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Pictured above: A postcard of a New England kitchen (1750), from the Museum of the Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts (and courtesy the New York Public Library)


To check out the recipes from all the cookbooks mentioned on this show, just click on the link below —

Amelia Simmons: American Cookery

Martha Washington: Booke of Cookery

Gervase Markham: Countrey Contentments, or the English Huswife

Eliza Smith: The Compleat Housewife: Or, Accomplish’d Gentlewoman’s Companion

Susannah Carter: The Frugal Housewife Or Complete Woman Cook

Below: Some engravings by Paul Revere from Carter’s 1770s American edition —

Courtesy Harvard


Hannah Glasse: The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy

Lucy Emerson: New England Cookery

Lydia Maria Child: The American Frugal Housewife


Mary Randolph: The Virginia Housewife, or Methodical Cook


Malinda Russell: A Domestic Cook Book


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