Overlooked No More: Fannie Farmer, Modern Cookery’s Pioneer

She brought a scientific approach to cooking, taught countless women marketable skills as well as wrote a cookbook which defined American food for the 20th century.

Since 1851, obituaries within the fresh York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported by the newspaper.

Recipes in 19th-century cookbooks relied on measurements like a “handful” of rice or a “goodly amount” of molasses — on the assumption which women largely knew how to cook.

Fannie Merritt Farmer changed all which. Widely credited with inventing the modern recipe, Farmer was the first professional cook to insist which scientific methods as well as precise measurements — level teaspoons, cups as well as ounces — produce better food, as well as also the first to demonstrate which cooking classes could be mass-market entertainment.

These were just a few of her contributions as the foremost cooking teacher, writer as well as lecturer of her day. Chiefly, she was responsible for “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.” First published under her name in 1896, which was a best seller as well as remains in print, with more than seven million copies sold. The book’s popularity as well as longevity has made Farmer a primary source for generations of American cooks.

“Correct measurements are absolutely necessary to ensure the best results,” Farmer famously wrote.

Julia Child, one of the only American cooks to become as widely influential as Farmer, said which “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” was the primary reference in her own mother’s kitchen, as well as which she cut her teeth as a cook on its pancakes, popovers as well as fudge recipes.

Both women were famous as teachers as well as writers, not as brilliant cooks. Child as well as Farmer were considered unusual in their time: Both were ambitious, charismatic media titans; purveyors of domestic wisdom who led unconventional domestic lives; as well as privileged fresh Englanders having a strong sense of how things ought to be done.

The concepts of “domestic science” as well as “home economics” were in their infancy, however these factors — bolstered by the work of women like Farmer, her colleagues Mary Lincoln as well as Maria Parloa as well as Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman to be admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — were already shaping the field.

This kind of fresh scientific approach to cooking made culinary expertise accessible to anyone willing to study. as well as as Farmer’s knowledge of food deepened throughout her career, she became a respected expert on the topic of diet as well as health.

She became a multimedia culinary force, a frequent figure on the lecture circuit whose weekly lectures were published within the Boston Evening Transcript. (She was one of the first women to lecture at Harvard Medical School.)

Her charisma as well as energy at the podium brought women of higher social strata under her sway, as well as she expanded her knowledge to encompass dishes for dinner parties, ladies’ luncheons as well as more.

In 1902, she commenced Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, which was not only educational however also profitable, allowing her to buy land, build a house as well as support her parents, sisters as well as various other family members.

She also acted as food editor for the influential magazine Women’s Home Companion as well as promoted standards of detail as well as precision which survive to This kind of day.

Measuring cups as well as spoons were already available, suggesting which she was not the inventor of such standards however rather an effective evangelist for them. as well as powerful fresh products like baking powder as well as compressed yeast were doing precision in recipes much more important.

“I’m sure the fact which her cake as well as pie recipes actually worked was a huge part of her success,” Ms. Shapiro said in an interview.

Farmer died of complications of a stroke on Jan. 15, 1915. She was 57.