Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine, a book tracing more than three centuries of vegetarian history through 15 landmark cookbooks, has been released by Seasonal Chef Press. The book includes a selection of 250 recipes reprinted verbatim from the original editions. It is the second in a culinary history series, following Vintage California Cuisine, which was released in 2012, featuring 300 recipes from 11 early California cookbooks.
Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine highlights more than a dozen vegetarian pioneers who defied conventional wisdom over the centuries by proclaiming the virtues of a flesh-free diet. In their cookbooks, they sought to show believers and skeptics alike that it is possible to prepare wholesome meals without meat. They offered a variety of reasons for abstaining from meat. The earliest of the cookbooks featured in Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine was a collection of salad recipes published in London in 1699 by John Evelyn. The world would be a better place, he believed, if we learned anew how to forage for our meals like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The last chapter of Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine covers two soybean cookbooks published in the American heartland during the Great Depression. They asserted that soybeans could help Americans survive the downturn by providing a low-cost high-protein substitute for meat.
The sampling of 250 early vegetarian recipes that are reprinted in Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine call for more than 150 different vegetables, herbs, fruits and nuts. The recipes include a chopped salad composed of cucumbers, olives, beets, mushrooms, raisins, pistachios, pine kernels, almonds and orange peel, “adorn’d with buds and flowers,” from John Evelyn’s cookbook; brussels sprouts sausages and a radish sauce that is “exceedingly nice with cheese,” from an 1892 cookbook issued in London that aimed to entice meat-eaters into the vegetarian fold; and panacea soup from a 1912 cookbook by one of the first advocates of a raw food diet. A chapter about the role in vegetarian history filled by the Kellogg family features Ella Kellogg’s recipe for pop corn pudding.
Philadelphia artist John Gummere produced the illustrations for the book. The cover illustration was inspired by the “Peaceable Kingdom” paintings of Edward Hicks, a 19th century Pennsylvania folk artist.
The cover price of Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine, which is 152 pages and includes source notes and indexes, is $12.95. Volume discounts and discounts for retailers are available on request.
The prominent culinary web site Epicurious.com recently reported about the forthcoming second title to be released by Seasonal Chef Press, Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine. The book, expected to be off the press by the end of the year, will include several hundred recipes reprinted verbatim from early vegetarian cookbooks with introductory text for each chapter telling about the books and the role they played in the development of vegetarian cuisine.
In the article for Epicurious, the writer, Joanne Camas, asked how I got interested in early vegetarian cookbooks. I explained that it started with a biography I wrote more than a decade ago about Charles Lummis, an eccentric journalist and Indian rights activist who lived in the Southwestern United States from the 1880s through the 1920s. Lummis had many interests, including Southwestern cuisine, the subject of a cookbook he published in Los Angeles in 1903.
Writing about Lummis and his cookbook led me into the world of other early California cookbooks, which I covered in my first self-published book, Vintage California Cuisine. That book includes a chapter about Charles Lummis and his landmark Southwestern cuisine cookbook. It also has a chapter about two vegetarian cookbooks that were published in California more than a century ago. Those books were my introduction to other early vegetarian cookbooks, which I’ll cover in Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine.
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- Mark Thompson
The 30-day campaign to raise funds on Kickstarter to publish Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine ended Aug. 16, with a total of $3,580 in pledges from 190 backers. Since the support far exceeded the fund-raising target of $1,000, the project will be funded, and the book has been placed on a fast track for publication before the end of the year.
Backers on Kickstarter hailed from a couple dozen different states in the United States and nearly a dozen foreign countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, China, Spain, Germany and Slovakia. The 73 backers who pledged $25 will be getting a copy of the forthcoming Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine as well as a copy of Vintage California Cuisine. Another 84 backers, who pledged at the $15 level, will be getting a copy of the vegetarian book. Other backers at the $10 level will be getting an e-book version of both books.
Vintage Vegetarian Cuisine will be going to press this fall, thanks to a boost from backers on Kickstarter. With more than two weeks to go in the campaign, the minimum $1,000 goal I set has been more than doubled and more than 100 people have pledged to support the project.
Backers at the $15 level will get a copy, postage included, of the forthcoming book, which will have a cover price of $12.95. Backers at the $25 level will get a copy of the forthcoming book as well as a copy of Vintage California Cuisine. Backers at the $10 level will get e-book editions of both books.
Click on over to the Kickstarter page to learn more about the project.
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating has named VintageCaliforniaCuisine.com one of the top 50 vegetarian blogs. In announcing the honor, Karna Nau, the institute’s director of student relations, said, “We wanted to provide our audience with a curated list of what we believe are the top Vegetarian Blogs that we feel provide added value to the Internet. After spending a few weeks combing through the web, we found your site and believe it is a resource our readers can trust.” The institute, based in Boulder, Colorado, bills itself as “the world’s leading school in nutritional psychology.”
On the Vintage California Cuisine blog, I am reporting on my experiments with some of the 300 recipes from early California cookbooks that are reprinted in the book Vintage California Cuisine. Two of the volumes represented in the book are early vegetarian cookbooks, one published in 1897 and the other in 1910. The 41 recipes from those old cookbooks that I have reprinted include such curiosities as Brown Betty, Poor Man’s Cake, An English Monkey and Palestine Soup.
Vintage California Cuisine is now on sale at a select group of retail outlets including Huntington Bookstore & More, at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, and at the Pasadena Museum of History, in Pasadena.
You can also find it for sale at the Lummis House, in the nearby Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The historic home, which houses the headquarters of the Historical Society of Southern California, was built in the late 1800s by Charles Fletcher Lummis, a crusading journalist and Indian rights activist who published a groundbreaking Southwestern cuisine cookbook in 1903, which is featured in Chapter 9 of Vintage California Cuisine.
In San Francisco, the book is on sale at Omnivore Books on Food, one of the nation’s best culinary bookstores.
Anna Roth, the food editor at the SF Weekly in San Francisco and a self-described “culinary history nerd,” interviewed me about Vintage California Cuisine and posted a story about the book last week. The book gives readers “a fascinating peek into the early stages of so-called California cuisine,” Roth writes.
In the interview I told her how I first developed an interest in early California cookbooks while doing research for a biography of Charles Fletcher Lummis that was published in 2001. In 1903, Lummis, a flamboyant Indian rights activist, published the Landmarks Club Cook Book, which is regarded as the first Southwestern cuisine cookbook. Lummis’s book, which includes recipes he collected while living in a Pueblo Indian village in New Mexico in the 1880s and during his travels in Central and South America, is covered in Chapter 9 of Vintage California Cuisine. I’ll be testing some of those recipes in the weeks and months to come.
Speaking of which, as Roth points out, “Reading through the recipes is an education in itself, but if you want to make them, you might run into some roadblocks.” Indeed! Most lack details about such things as how the ingredients should be prepared, and how long and at what temperature dishes should be cooked. It will be an adventure!