The Accomplisht Cook, 1665-1685
Robert May, Marcus Bell (Editors)
This is a facsimile edition of the masterpiece of Restoration cookery by Robert May, first published in 1660 - but this is a reproduction of the last revision made in the author's lifetime (1665, reprinted in 1685).
It was the most important cookery book of its time: straddling the period of the Civil War and Restoration, when English cookery was for the first time influenced by the high cooking of the French court and aristocracy. Robert May was a professional cook (most recipe books of the period were from the pens of amateurs, or women, or reproduced household collections). He had trained in Paris. He had worked for a succession of noble families, mostly (like him) of the Catholic faith.
As well as a matchless collection of recipes, the original book also contained a memoir of the author. There is a modern introduction which offers new facts about May's life and work; and there is a useful glossary of words, terms and materials.
This book was described by Elizabeth David as 'a most beautiful piece of cookery literature'. The modern writer Frances Bissell repeatedly claims that it is her 'favourite cookery book of all time'. John Lanchester wrote of the original hardback edition (published in 1994) that it was 'the oddball food book of the year'.