Caribbean cookbooks article (1998)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Sep 15 07:52:26 UTC 2003

   For the past few years, I've been reading every cookbook, every food
periodical, every menu, every travel guidebook and handbook (for every country in
the world, which I then travel to), and every computer database in the New York
Public Library.  No one knows who I am.
   The ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NEW YORK CITY (1995) is behind every NYPL librarian.
No one knows how to look there.  Been around for eight years.

vol. 72 no. 1 & 2 (1998): 77-95



   This is an excellent article, from a periodical available in the NYU Bobst
Library stacks.  I'll be in Trinidad & Guyana for two weeks in November,
probably just when the ProQuest CHICAGO TRIBUNE will come out ("in late August").

Pg. 79:  The earliest known English-language cookbook published in the
Caribbean is Caroline Sullivan's _Jamaica Cookery Book_ of 1893.  A trickle followed
down to the 1960s, and then there was an explosion in output that continues
to the present.  Two questions stand out.  Why did publication begin so late,
and why has the cookbook become so common in the last twenty years?

   Good questions.  I'll try to use the JAMAICA GLEANER, but I need a
Trinidad newspaper as well, and just about anything I can get my hands on.  I'll
possibly make a Library of Congress visit next week.  Suggestions?
   Again, the cuisine is now all over New York City.

Pg. 79:  For example, the fifth edition of _The Art of Cookery_ by Hannah
Glasse, published in 1755, contained elaborate instructions on how "To dress a
turtle the West Indian way."  Glasse noted that "In the West Indies they
generally souse the fins, and eat them cold, omit the liver, and only send to the
table the callepy, and soop" (Glasse, 1775:67).

Pg. 79:  Both English and North American cookbooks occasionally referred to
the Caribbean, in the eighteenth century, as in "West-India pepper pot" (soup)
and directions how to "caveach" fish "as practised in the West Indies" (Briggs
1792: 35; Hooker 1984:58).

Pg. 82:  No new cookbooks have been identified for the 1930s.

   A whole decade.  Not one for the entire region.  Just incredible.

Pg. 87 (closing comment--ed.):  Food, therefore, remains a problematic symbil
of Caribbean identity.  The cookbook-writers of recent times have not been
completely successful in creating a single account of the Caribbean past or a
single, unitary definition of Caribbean cuisine or culture.  In their efforts to
achieve this objective, they have however fixed Caribbean cuisine in a
traditional/nostalgic (Pg. 88--ed.) mould, locating it in times past and places
lost.  The cuisine commonly becomes something to be preserved rather than
developed, an attitude paralleling the fixing of the social memory in the cookbook's

   Those comments are now dated.  We've had a lot more cookbooks since that
was written just a few years ago.  A nice bibliography of all the cookbooks
(119 from 1890-1997) is given.  The 1939 book by the Browns that I recently
mentioned here--which includes this region in its title--is not listed.

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