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18th century cookbook gives up its intriguing secrets at auction
Manuscript recipe book in English, 18th- early-19th century. Estimate $500 to $1,000. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.

NEW YORK, NY.- An early recipe for lemonade and another for “Brain Cakes” have emerged from the pages of a handwritten cookbook dating back to the 18th century, to be sold at Swann Auction Galleries on October 24.

Grandly titled Imperiall Water, the recipe for lemonade instructs the user to “put a gallon of water, one ounce of Cream of Tartar, the yellow rine of a large lemmon” on to boil for a few minutes with “lump sugar to your taste”, before cooling and bottling it.

Cream of Tartar would have been a staple way of making the drink before the invention of carbonated water and so the recipe is not that different from those used today.

“Brain Cakes for a Calves Head Hash” is a rather different matter, however, as the book indicates.

With beaten eggs, nutmeg, cream, sage and parsley mixed with the brains, the result would have looked something akin to meatballs before being dropped in the frying pan from a spoon to fry in butter. Once cooked to a light brown colour, the recipe instructs the user to “put [the forcemeat balls] on the calves head then you dish it up”.

Other more traditional recipes for stuffing for boiled and roast turkey, as well as gravy, are accompanied by more foreign dishes that point to the writer being familiar with cuisine from beyond Europe.

As well as a recipe for curry, another describes how to create Mutton kebabs.

Catalogued as a manuscript recipe book in English with over 145 leaves, it includes an inscription dated to 1807, but would seem to date from some time before that.

It will appear in the Early Printed, Travel, Scientific & Medical Books sale with an estimate of $500 to $1000.

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