The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook
University of California Press (Inbooks), $75 hb, 340 pp, 9780520244009
The Cookbook Library is an eminently readable and informative survey of the development of European (and North American) culinary literature from antiquity until the early nineteenth century, from Greek and Roman texts to Antonin Carême. The project, inspired by Anne Willan and Mark Cherniavsky’s extensive personal cookbook library, draws on Willan’s considerable professional cookery expertise: in addition to setting up her own cookery school in Paris, La Varenne, in 1975, Willan has published extensively on French cookery and is a leading authority on the subject. But this is much more than a catalogue of an indisputably fine private collection. It covers the subject broadly, way beyond the confines of the couple’s own substantial holdings and their linguistic comfort.