Cooking with Children in 1925

June 5, 2016

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This remarkable little book, The Gentle Art of Cookery, published in 1925, is a reminder that interesting food from all over the world was being happily eaten in England long before Elizabeth David weighed in.  The author’s basic philosophy, laid out in the introduction, is that  one should “shop first and then arrange the dinner according to what is most plentiful in the market.” She includes an entire chapter on The Arabian Nights, with recipes for dishes like imam bayaldi and chicken stuffed with pistachios.

The book’s author, Hilda Leyel, was a famous herbalist with a remarkably modern attitude (among other things, she agitated for the use of compost as opposed to synthetic fertilizers). The book is valuable for its vegetable recipes alone, and is best known for the chapter on Cooking with Flowers, which includes recipes for Dandelion Wine, Chrysanthemum Salad, Violet Marmalade and Rose Ice Cream.

But what I found most fascinating is the ideas on cooking with children. A few of these recipes I’ve never seen before. I particularly like that “ostrich egg,” although I’m a little stumped as to where a modern cook would source the pig’s bladder.

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Tomorrow: Cooking with Flowers.


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  • Marsha Markham says:

    Really interesting article, Ruth….thanks for posting that.

  • wendy ayre says:

    what a wonderful way for the young to be introduced to the love of cooking and enjoyment of yummy food- thanks ruth for uncovering this wonderful article – it should be mandatory in kitchens and schools around the world – happy cooking

  • normadesmond says:

    why, my pantry always has at least one bladder in it!

  • Lex says:

    Back then the local butchers actually did their own butchering.
    I know, radical.

  • Good to see Hilda Leyel’s work remembered. All too often Elizabeth David is being credited for being the one to write about English food in a time when people were forgetting about it. Leyel was much earlier and left behind a wonderful collection of book to savour.


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