Paris CBF: Charity Cookbooks

Paris Cookbook Fair Charity Cookbooks History 1847-2012

Hunger was the cause for the first Charity Cookbook published in London in 1847, for the Great Irish Famine by Chef Alexis Soyer (1810 – 1858). He wrote his book “Charitable Cookery or the Poor Man’s Regenerator” from his experience of feeding up to 26.000 people per day in Dublin. Born in France, he became the First Celebrity Chef in Great Britain, loved and admired as a heroe.

Soyer was influenced by the work of François Cointeraux (1721 – 1820), advocate of rustic cooking with the potato, and professor of Rural Architecture with “Pisé” earth. Cointeraux Published the revolutionary “La Cuisine Inversée ou Le nouveau Ménage” in 1796. Thomas Jefferson and Cointeraux met in 1789 in Paris, and corresponded for many years.

The first American Charity Cookbook is “A Poetical Cookbook”, by María J. Moss. It was written for the 1864 Sanitary Fair, in Brooklyn, New York, in support of the wounded, widowed or orphaned by the Civil War. It is eBook 25631 of Project Gutenberg.

It was followed by at least 4000 Charity and Community cookbooks published in America between 1861 and 1915. Margaret Cook references over 3000 in her bibliography for that period: “America’s Charitable Cooks” (1971). There are extensive collections in American libraries, and much demand by collectors of these early Charity cookbooks.

Charity and Community cookbooks became very common in America in the following years, maybe accelerated by the needs for fund raising in the Great Depression. The production has kept increasing in North America until now. It is only in the last twenty years that Charity cookbooks have really started to appear beyond the English speaking world. This new trend has become worldwide in the past five years. The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards have received an increasing number of these books. It was decided in 2008 to create a Gourmand

Award for Charity Cookbooks. There is one award for Charity cookbook per continent to give equal chances to all.

Edouard Cointreau

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