Not surprisingly, people tend to get passionate about food and cooking. We once discussed Orville Redenbacher’s passion for popcorn: growing it, popping it, eating it. But most of us are just as guilty as Orville. We enjoy trying new foods and swapping recipes; we may catch ourselves singing the ad jingles for our favorite fast foods; most of us consider dining out at a fine restaurant a major event; and many of us collect cookbooks.
There are television shows and even entire cable channels devoted solely to cooking. (Obviously, watching other people fix stuff to eat is now considered entertainment.) And let’s not forget cookbooks. Thin ones and thick ones; general or specialized; written by chefs or homemakers, actors and talk show hosts. Cooks seem to take special pride in displaying their numerous volumes, often on a shelf in the kitchen. And at Christmas or on birthdays, cookbooks frequently show up as gifts. What’s this obsession with bound collections of recipes?
Printed cookbooks, previously referred to in Commonwealth English as cookery books, have been around about as long as printed Bibles. In fact, with the advent of the printing press and movable type, two types of books immediately proliferated: Bibles and cookbooks. Seems odd? Not really. Both deal with food. One for the soul, one for the stomach.
Known collections of recipes actually date back as far as First-Century Rome. (Can you say “epicurean”?) And by the latter part of the 17th Century, cookery had progressed to an art form, with good cooks in big demand. Many of these “artists” competed with their rivals by publishing their own cookbooks! (The pen and the pot are mightier than the sword!)
But it wasn’t until the Victorian era, with its preoccupation for domestic respectability, that “cookery writing” began to take the form we recognize today. The first modern cookbook, aimed specifically at the domestic reader, was compiled by Eliza Acton and published in 1845. Her pioneering Modern Cookery for Private Families established the format for modern cookbooks, including the now-universal practice of listing the ingredients and suggested cooking times with each recipe.
A few more cookbook publication milestones include: The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, compiled by the American cook Fannie Farmer (1857–1915) and published in 1896, which contained 1,849 recipes; The Joy of Cooking (1931) by Irma Rombauer; and Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) by Julia Child (whom we discussed in a recent Encouragement for Creators).
Cookbooks originally contained far more than recipes. They were basic kitchen reference works that included cooking techniques and hosting tips. Think of them as step-by-step survival guides for the domestic cook or homemaker. At the time, however, people usually referred to them as “kitchen bibles”! And that’s not an unreasonable comparison. After all, the Word of God and cookbooks, in general, have many similarities. Writers and publishers understand this, which is why we see dozens of books with titles such as The Cake Bible, the Irish Cooking Bible, The Pizza Bible and The Barbecue! Bible.
The word bible is now generally defined as: “handbook, manual, guide, reference, primer, companion”; because that’s exactly what the original, one-and-only Bible is! God’s Holy Word is humanity’s “bible” for life: a handbook to everyday existence; a guide to love and relationships; a companion for dealing with every problem. It contains all of our Heavenly Father’s “recipes” for peace, happiness, security and success. And it’s the complete account of what God’s been cooking up since the creation of the world — and what He’s preparing for the future.
Incidentally, the word bible comes from the ecclesiastical Latin term biblia and translates — literally — as “book.” So, when we speak of “The Bible,” we’re talking about “The Book” — not “A book,” but rather “THE Book”!
There are hundreds of new cookbooks published every year. There are MILLIONS of copies of cookbooks residing in homes. People often refer to them. Many have relied on them to get out of a tight spot in the kitchen. Others frequently give them as gifts. But The Bible trumps ALL these statistics. In fact, The Bible is the #1 bestselling book of all time! So, read it. Get comfortable with it. Learn how to find answers in it. Keep it out on the counter so you can easily refer to it. Give it as a gift. It’s God’s Holy “Book of Cookery”!
“…It is written, ‘THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NASB)
“And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom.” (Luke 22:29-30 NLT)