Poem in Hundred-year-old Cookbook

poem titled, "Bread, Rolls, Buns and Toast"
Source: The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

Old cookbooks sometimes have poems, such as this one in a 1919 cookbook. It was at the beginning of a chapter containing bread recipes. The poem lays out the path involved in creating a bread ingredient (flour). People were so much closer to agrarian life back then, and had a clear understanding of relationship between the weather, wheat production, the milling process, and flour. Would a similar poem resonate with cookbook users today?

24 thoughts on “Poem in Hundred-year-old Cookbook

  1. I like cookbooks which have little poems or quotes in them, especially if they give some historical context to the recipe or one of the recipe ingredients. I have some modern recipe books which do this sort of thing.

  2. It is surprising to find many people have no idea what their food is made from. As I must eat gluten free, I find that some people do no even know bread is made of wheat, offering me white bread instead of whole wheat.

    1. Perhaps including poems or something similar would make today’s generation pause and think of where it came from, and the work that went into it. I have a dairy allergy and people are always saying “you can’t eat this, it has eggs!”. As if the cows have laid eggs…

    2. I also find it amazing (in a sad way) that many people have little idea about the sources of their food. I’ve met people do not know that milk comes from cows – though maybe I shouldn’t be surprised since there are so many types of milk today (almond milk, oat milk, etc.).

  3. With the farm-to-table movement we have in some parts of the country, I’d say this connection still exists today. It does for me. Thanks for this poem, Sheryl.

    1. That’s a really good point. I hadn’t thought about it exactly that way, but you’re absolutely right that the farm-to-table movement fosters a deeper understanding of food and where it comes from.

  4. This reminds me of one of the earliest “connections” poems I learned — the one about “for want of a nail, the shoe was lost.”. Until people are reconnected to nature, I’m not sure logical arguments about the importance of sustainable farming practices or prairie restoration will have much success.

  5. I think the abundance of food in our western society, and the distance between the creation of the food and the consumer, has led to all the weird food obsessions. Before, when people had very little choice or availability of food options, they ate what was within reach. Now we can choose from so many options and people are making up all kinds of strange rules about what to eat or not eat. I find it irksome.

    1. I find this 1919 cookbook to be particularly fascinating. The introduction says that it is intended to be an “everyday reference in farm homes – in families where plain tastes and limited means forbid extravagant or fancy culinary indulgences and the accompanying unnecessary expenditure of time and labor.” Many of the recipes are basic and simple – and I want think – even an bit old-fashioned by 1919 standards.

  6. This is more than a poem–it’s a grace to say or sing. It is a common grace to sing in the Girl Scouts.

  7. Hi Sheryl, I think a certain reader would appreciate poems and additional personal information with a recipe. In some ways it is a mini, fun history lesson with tasty results. Erica

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