A high class book of reference

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By | From the Collections

Here is an entertaining guide to Our Daily Fare and How to Provide It, for World Book Day.

This book is aimed at the average housewife stuck at home in 1893 and limited to a “small weekly household allowance” of £1 a week. At the time of publication, the average family appears to have comprised 4 children and a husband who returned home “tired bodily” from work.

Despite the strict purse, the suggested daily menus appear to be generous in ingredients. Breakfasts are a far cry from the packaged sweetened cereal on offer today: buttered lobster is on offer for a typical Monday breakfast for instance, albeit the tinned variety. Other suggestions for the first meal of the day include fried cods roe, while dinner could consist of cold or tinned meats – especially pork or beef – followed by elaborately titled puddings such as Alexandrovna pudding that apparently contained suet. Apart from canned protein, the menus change seasonally and reflect what is on offer at any given month.

The cost of weekly menus is listed and an appropriate shopping list supplied but no ‘stimulants’ are included for alcohol was considered a luxury. Meals are defined as simple, for the mistress would have to fit cooking in around her many other duties. The latter part of the book is devoted to recipes: ‘hominy‘ strikes as a particularly unusual dish unless you happen to be from central America. The book is completed with a list of “high class books of reference”, all household related. Happy reading….

Author: Julia Nurse is Web Content Officer at the Wellcome Library.


Julia Nurse

Julia Nurse

Julia Nurse is Collections Researcher at the Wellcome Library. With a background in art history, she has previously worked as Assistant Curator of the Iconographic Collections, and more recently co-curated the content within the refurbished Reading Room.

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