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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 11:16 GMT
Historic cookbook causes a stir
Mary Swanwick's cookbook
Among the recipes in the book is stewed calf's head
One of the oldest-known cookbooks in the country has left historians in a stew over its obscure recipes.

Her Cookery Book, written in 1742 by Mary Swanwick, includes a range of unknown dishes such as squichanary pye and Stoughtons drops.

The book, which also includes instructions for stewed calf's head, was donated to the Derbyshire Record Office by an anonymous Stockport man.

Archivists are still trying to decipher much of its faded handwriting.

Staff at the records office said they had an older recipe book, though nowhere near as comprehensive as Mary Swanwick's, which features about 100 dishes.

They are quite detailed recipes for the more advanced cook
Paul Stebbing, senior archivist

Among the ingredients needed for squichanary pye are a type of parsnip not commonly available now, spices, candied oranges and lemon and white wine.

Senior archivist Paul Stebbing said staff were now looking to find out more about Ms Swanwick.

He said, however, that her surname, along with many of the recipes in the book, indicated she was from the county.

The legendary Isabella Beeton's Book of Household Management, from the mid 1800s, had been previously regarded as the earliest published recipe collection in Britain.

Stoughtons Drops recipe
Copies of the book are set to go on sale next year

Mr Stebbing said: "The book we have got is quite rare, especially for it to resurface like this after so long.

"We have one or two other cookbooks from about that time, but not as comprehensive as this.

"I think it had been in the man's family for quite some years, but clearly he didn't understand its significance and thought it was just a tatty old book.

"Things like this are often just thrown out."

The book is now set to be republished and to go on sale next year.

"Many of the recipes don't take you back to basics, they are quite detailed recipes for the more advanced cook," said Mr Stebbing.

What is thought to be the world's oldest printed cookery book was written in Latin by Italian physician Bartholomaeus Platina in 1480.


12 May 99 |  UK News


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