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The Cook's Oracle

William Kitchiner (1775-1827)
The Cook’s Oracle (New York, E. Duyckinck, G. Long, 1825)
MU Special Collections
Closed Collection
TX717 .K6 1825

William Kitchiner portrait
Image credit: National Library of Medicine

William Kitchiner was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1819 due to his lifelong research in optics, but his eccentric, epicurean dinner parties are his primary claim to fame.  Kitchiner takes scientist’s approach to cooking in The Cook’s Oracle.  In the preface, he deplores the lack of attention to cooking in the health literature of the time:

Some Medical writers have, in good set terms, warned us against the pernicious effects of improper Diet; but – not One, has been so kind, as to take the trouble to direct us how to prepare Food properly.

To avoid improper cooking, Kitchiner aimed to make his cookbook as reliable as possible. He was the first to publish descriptions of cooking techniques and precise amounts for ingredients, including a table of weights and measures.

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