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We have started our review in the 17th Century, as before that, although there were cookery writings and recipes in books dating from the 13th Century, they were either transcripts of Royal Feasts or dishes from the Royal Kitchens, written more as propaganda for the wealth of the monarch or personage and certainly outside the reach of the average person.
The other main source of information is the household books written by the educated housewives, who wrote down her own and friend’s recipes for use in her own kitchen. These were kept within the family and it is only in the last 40 years or so that they have come to light and been published to reach a wider audience, shedding much welcome light on what was actually eaten by the up and coming middle class.
Right up till the middle of the 19th Century all cookery books were written and published for the more affluent, it was Alexis Soyer in 1854 who wrote the first cookbook for the working class, even then, at the cost of one shilling (now 5p) it was beyond the reach of most. The middle of the 17th Century saw the first cookery book published with the glimmerings of the format used in our modern books and it progressed from there, so that’ s we have begun.