Prof. Merry White’s “Cooking for Crowds” 40th Anniversary Edition

First published in 1974, Prof. Merry White’s Cooking for Crowds combined recipes she acquired in college, ethnic and international dishes, and a few tricks she learned from her neighbor, and fellow BU Gastronomy colleague, Julia Child. To celebrate her cookbook’s 40th anniversary, Princeton University Press has released a special edition complete with original sketches by Edward Koren (now in color) and the same tried and true recipes.


cover of original mustard yellow version of the cookbook.

Check out what other scholars have to say about the new edition:

“Cooking for Crowds represents a coming-of-age moment in the cultural history of food, cooking, and taste in America. It has been one of my favorite cookbooks for more than thirty years.”–Peter Gourevitch, founding dean, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego

“Corky White has been persuaded to reissue the cookbook that was so much a part of our youthful gatherings. These diverse (and feasible) recipes for large tables are ideal for any occasion, whatever your group passions. Edward Koren’s illustrations capture the unbuttoned hirsute fellowship of ingredients and diners.”–Charles Maier, Harvard University

For some of us, this anniversary edition is our first experience with White’s cookbook, but for the past few generations, Cooking for Crowds provided a simple step-by-step introduction to cooking and an edible tour of the world’s diverse cuisines and cultures. And here in the field of Food Studies, we appreciate Merry White’s cookbook for more than its delicious recipes and can also recognize her diligent work as an cultural anthropologist.

Below is a sneak preview of the new edition plus a recipe for Toasted Almond Parfait:





Sneak peak pages provided by Princeton University Press

Congratulations, Professor White and here’s to many more editions of Cooking for Crowds! Find the book here and get to cooking!

Summer Research Project: Cuisine de mères: Apprenticeship, Gender and the Construction of Culinary History

image via antiqua print gallery
image via antiqua print gallery

Congratulations to Rachel Black for being awarded the Culinary Trusts’ 2013-2014 Julia Child Independent Study grants. This support will allow Dr. Black to go to Lyon, France to conduct summer research on an important, yet neglected chapter in twentieth-century French culinary history–the cuisine des mères. This project offers insight into a moment in postwar France in which women maintained a privileged position between the two worlds of domestic and professional cookery.
image via Cuisine Plurielle
Photo of Jacotte Brazier via Cuisine Plurielle

Who were these mères? In the early twentieth century, affluent bourgeois households in the Lyon area employed women cooks who became known for their refined cuisine. After World War I and the economic crash of 1929, most families could no longer afford to keep a cook. Finding themselves without work, some of these women opened small, family-run dining establishments, which served simple yet perfectly prepared cuisine. Notable among these was “La mère Brazier” (Eugénie Brazier) who was the darling of the French restaurant critic Curnonsky and the only woman to ever earn three Michelin stars for two of her restaurants. Dr. Black’s research project looks at how women like Brazier, collectively known as ‘les mères’ (the mothers) in French culinary circles, brought their knowledge of local cuisine into the public sphere and raised these culinary traditions to new heights. It was during the interwar years that cuisine bourgeoise, previously only attainable in privileged private households, became available to the public, largely thanks to the women cooks who had been the keepers of these culinary traditions. The work of these women and the apprentices that they trained had an important influence on the construction of Lyonnais and French cuisine after the Second World War.
Postcard featuring la Mère Fillioux carving one of her famous poultry dishes.

Dr. Black will focus on the rise to prominence of the mères lyonnaises in the otherwise male-dominated professional kitchens, and it will look at the reasons why male chefs eventually eclipsed these women. Through archival research and oral history interviews with family members and the chefs who apprenticed with the mères, she will not only seek to answer the question, ‘Why have the mères largely been written out of French culinary history?’ but will also take important steps to writing them back in.

This guest post is brought to you by Barbara Rotger and Rachel Black.