Amelia Simmons wrote what is widely regarded as the first American cookbook, American Cookery. Through its recipes and ingredients, this work shows how a unique American diet and identity was created.
The book was so popular that after its first printing in Hartford, Connecticut in 1796, and it’s second printing in Albany, NY, that same year, it remained in print for 35 years after its first publication; however, very little is known about its author.
Simmons’ American Cookery used terms known to Americans, using readily available ingredients. It’s believed to be the first cookbook to include “Indian pudding,” johnnycake, and a precursor to pumpkin pie.
The cookbook was the first to suggest serving cranberry with turkey, and the first to use the Dutch word “cookey.” It introduced a precursor of baking soda, starting a revolution in the making of American cakes.
The book was named one of the 88 “Books That Shaped America” by the Library of Congress. Only four copies of the first printings are known to survive.
Pamela Cooley has sought to solve the mystery surrounding Simmons through historical and genealogical research. Cooley shares her research and theory about the enigmatic author in a virtual program with Oneida County History Center of Utica on Wednesday, March 15th.
Pamela Cooley’s interest in culinary history led her to research Amelia Simmons. Cooley has presented on Simmons in the U.S. and Canada. She is a retired archivist and also an avid historic cook who teaches open hearth, bake oven, and wood cookstove cookery at living history museums in New York state.
This program will begin at 5:30 pm and will be held via Zoom. For more information or to register, visit the Oneida County History Center website.
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