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At Home on the Rangeby Margaret Yardley Potter
Synopses & Reviews
A cookbook far ahead of its time, Margaret Yardley Potters At Home on the Range, originally published in 1947, was rediscovered by the author Elizabeth Gilbert—who just so happens to be the authors great-granddaughter. Gilberts Gima” was no ordinary housewife: at a time when the American dinner table was hurtling towards homogeny, Potter espoused the importance of farmers markets and ethnic food (when pizza was considered ethnic), derided preservatives and culinary shortcuts, and lustily celebrated her epicurean adventures. Part scholar, part crusader, and always throwing parties, Potter could not but be a source of Gilberts own love of food, and her warm, infectious prose.
While moving into a new house, Elizabeth Gilbert unpacked some boxes of family books that had been sitting in her mother's attic for decades. Among the old, dusty hardcovers was a book called At Home on the Range (or, How To Make Friends with Your Stove) by Gilbert's great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter. In her workaday cookbook, Potter espoused the importance of farmer's markets and ethnic food (Italian, Jewish, and German), derided preservatives and culinary shortcuts, and celebrated a devotion to seeking out new epicurean adventures. Potter takes car trips out to Pennsylvania Dutch country to eat pickled pork products, and during World War II she cajoles local poultry farmers into saving buckets of coxcombs for her so she can try to cook them in the French manner. She takes trips to the eastern shore of Maryland, where she learns to catch and prepare eels so delicious, she says, they must be 'devoured in a silence almost devout.'
Part scholar—she includes a great recipe from 1848 for boiled sheep head—and part crusader for a more open food conversation than currently existed, it's not hard to see from where Elizabeth Gilbert inherited both her love of food, and her warm, infectious prose.
About the Author
Margaret Yardley Potter's book is culled from a lifetime of cooking and entertaining in her home, from the 1920s through World War II. In addition to being a cooking columnist for the Wilmington Star, she also painted, sold dresses, assisted in the birth of four grandchildren, and took up swing piano.
Elizabeth Gilbert is the best-selling author of numerous books, including Eat, Pray, Love, now a major motion picture. In 2008, Time magazine named Elizabeth as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
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Cooking and Food » Food Writing » Gastronomic Literature