Roland-designs , Virginie's blog.

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Vintage cookbooks

    There is something both nostalgic and intriguing in reading old cookbooks, especially European ones from the first half of last century. This was a time when during and after the world wars the mothers of the house had to rely on their skills to produce appetizing and nutritious meal, while all the while making do with rationing, budgeting, using local products or what they could grow in their own garden, they still canned, or preserved for the winter, and did not have as much access as we have now to more ‘exotic’ ingredients.

    Maybe there is something to be learned from our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, about how to stretch proteins, and use seasonal meats, fruits and vegetables. This would support local farmers and save our planet from unnecessary carbon footprints pollution. And yet, I fear that we will not be going back to more sustainable eating practices anytime soon due to the growing popularity of bloggers, and online sharing of recipes which introduces us to new and exiting dishes made from ingredients that rarely are produced locally. 

    This summer my Papa gave me two 1950’s French cookbooks, the recipes present us with an idea of what might have been on the menu in a French household at the times. Many of the recipes are perfectly suited for modern cooking, but others are terribly outdated such as the ‘ Bouillie’ for babies made from 175g of milk, 1 spoon flour, 1 pinch salt and 2 cubes of sugar….. Imagine giving your baby that much sugar in his bottle !

    One of my favorite bits are the words from the writer H.P. Pellaprat, a cooking professor. He dedicates the book to the '' French housewife who is more conscious than all others of the well-being and happiness of her household, where the table contributes strongly to this well-being,  by being one of those rare joys that the passing of time measures out with so much parsimony ''.

Vintage French cookbooks

Picture perfect cakes of the 50's....

Pork head aspic anyone ?

French strawberry pie

Special dish for special days.... the side decoration are cubes of meat gelatine.

Some recipes might taste good, but they needs some help with the presentation......


  1. What great books ... the saturated (?) photos seem so specific to that time period.

    1. Yes, the photos are typical for the time period, slightly blurry sometime, but with very vivid colors.

  2. I'm actually lucky to live in an area where I can eat local fruits and veggies 6 months of the year, we also have our own chickens for eggs, local seafood, and I've started preserving recently. It takes a little more effort, but its worth it. The pictures of the food are so fun!

    1. Preserving is something I have on my to-do list. Right now I mainly do jams and dry/freeze items from the garden. My dream is to build a green house so I can supply my family with tomatoes, cucombers and other vegetables that don't grow outdoor where I live - Norway.

  3. What an incredible gift! I am going to France this autumn and I keep seeing things that are making me so excited for my trip. I remember reading my mother's cookbooks when I was young. The writing styles are very different, now. There isn't much flavor in a straight forward directional recipe, is there?

    1. Older recipes were tasty in that they made use of herbs, spices, and meat stock. But our modern palate is often damaged by the excess of salt/sugar and flavor enhancers that are found in almost everything.

      Wishing you a very pleasant trip to France, and if you have the time do try to visit a street market. They are a great experience, and there is so much amazing things to taste....