One-Hundred-Year-Old Cookbook Glossary

Hundred-year-old ookbook glossary
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

I recently came across a glossary in a hundred-year-old cookbook that defined 62 words. I was surprised that several  words that are commonly used now (for example, mayonnaise) needed to be defined in the early 1900s;  that the meaning of several other words had shifted across the years (for example, hors d’oeurves); and that noir was an important food-related word back then.

Even since then I’ve been pondering the following question: If I wrote a cookbook in 2016 and decided to include a glossary, which 62 words would be the most important words to define?

Hundred-year-old Cookbook Glossary 2

49 thoughts on “One-Hundred-Year-Old Cookbook Glossary

  1. The French influence on cooking was strong then in North America. I know my mother was very proud of the fact that she learned French in High School. Her cooking left a lot to desire but she could read the terms. We have gotten away from a lot of that in the last half of the 20th century. Other cuisines get equal billing and enjoyed by people who cook well. My recipe of Pennsylvania Old Dutch salad dressing has had request in emails to explain pumpkin pie spice to people out side the US. That surprised me because I didn’t think our regional cooking was known outside of this country.

    1. Your comment makes we think about how Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking were popular in the mid-1900s. I think that we often tend to forget that French cooking was seen as “classy” and the epitome of good cooking for many years prior to that. It fun to think about someone half way around the world trying some of these recipes.

    1. Definitely. . . gluten is a word that suddenly seems to be everywhere. Thanks for your vote of confidence in my ability to write an interesting cookbook.

  2. Please add “umami” and “edamame” to your 2016 glossary. Now common regional foods such as Cajun, TexMex, BBQ, and common Italian food items Pesto and Tiramisu were probably unheard of 100 years ago. Even “ketchup” should be an addition to the glossary. Thanks for posting the 100 year old glossary to get me thinking of how things have changed.

  3. Wow! I’m gonna show my ignorance…. I never knew that some of those words existed… Learned something new! 😄 Here’s one… Don’t know how long this one has been in the cooking world but I just came across it recently… Ristretto

      1. It’s a coffee geek’s word! Like latte or espresso,cappuccino and so on in a coffee world. Now I’m fond of coffee but not like some of my youngins.:) they will bring home some fancy named coffee , and usually the first sip is good but after that it’s to strong or way to sweet.

    1. It is intriguing how they included so many French words. I’m guessing that educated women in the early 1900’s were proud that they knew a little French and could do “French cooking.”

  4. So interesting to see this…it’s fun to see what they included and how they defined the words. Your question is a good one…I would include words that I think would be fun for anyone reading the glossary 100 yrs from now 😊

  5. I agree that gluten would need to be included. And possibly “organic”, “non-gmo”, and “vegan”. The definitions of some of the words are interesting. Not what I would expect.

    1. And, I’m often confused by the various types of vegetarian (lacto vegetarian, ovo vegetarian, etc.) -better include definitions for them. 🙂

  6. The sheer number of cuisines available now would make it hard – so many cookbooks are very specialized these days. Back then you just needed to add a little French to seem exotic but these days the types of foods and cooking styles is infinite.

    1. I think that you are absolutely right. It seems like people thought that giving dishes French names, and using a few French terms was very exotic and a sign of their sophistication. 🙂

  7. The inclusion of koumiss is intriguing; it must have been trendy. Is yogurt included in the glossary? Slow-cooker and sous-vide would probably feature in a 2016 glossary.

    1. I wasn’t familiar with koumiss until I saw it in this glossary and your comment sent me to googling it. It’s interesting how yogurt is popular today- and a different fermented dairy food was popular back then.

        1. I got the sense that koumiss is a drink that is primarily associated with the central Asian steppes. I’m very curious about why it was in the glossary of this old U.S. published cookbook – and whether it was something that people in the U.S. used in the early 1900s.

  8. What a great post and glossary from days past! I couldn’t imagine where to begin composing a modified glossary for today. I have a feeling your cookbook would be a combination of both! 🙂

    1. You’re probably right. My cooking tends to look to the past for inspiration while looking to the future for ways to make the foods as easily as possible. 🙂

    1. I liked it, too. Somehow it seems like the author merely translated the French word, and never really thought about how to define it within the context of food.

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