The Culinary Lives of John and Abigail Adams
Rosana Y. Wan
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd
October 28, 2014
**Received for review from the publisher, via Netgalley**
This is the first cookbook that I received with the express purpose of reviewing it. Being that I love all things President and First Lady, and I already have a few cookbooks along this theme, this was a no brainer for me to accept.
Layout: Every recipe in this cookbook are recipes from cookbooks that existed during the lifetimes of John and Abigail Adams and the recipe selections are based on foods that they describe in their letters. There are excerpts from letters where they described different dishes that they had eaten or types of game that were caught. As the Adams’ were prolific letter writers there is a lot to work with. There is also a great introduction where colonial cooking styles are explained, with particular focus on New England. For the historically inclined there is also a timeline of John and Abigail Adams life. The selections in this book include everything from breakfast, to vegetables, to drinks and desserts. There are very few photos included in this cookbook – they are used more for section dividers rather than for showing the recipes.
Recipes: I would have to say that the recipes presented in this cookbook are fairly easy – I would feel safe saying that almost everyone could cook the recipes here. New England style foods are very sparse with ingredients and have simple preparation methods. Some of the recipes are as simple as: peel carrots, slice carrots, boil in salted water, drain and eat. I’m not even kidding – but this is how a lot of the foods would have been prepared at that time. The proteins probably have the highest levels of difficulty, but they are not too bad. I made the roasted chicken a couple weeks ago and it came out very good.
I would have to say that this is a well-researched historical cookbook. The recipes come from cookbooks that existed at the time and are based on things that the President and First Lady are known to have, at the very least, discussed. Short of a recipe book in their own handwriting, I think this is the next best thing.
A couple of recipes that I found interesting and might make: Roast Leg of Lamb with Mint Sauce, Cod Stew, Cherry Pie, and Abigail’s Punch.
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