Thursday, October 2nd, 2008...9:50 pm

Col. Kenney-Herbert’s Culinary Jottings

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Today I read an entertaining and informative post about the seminal book on the cuisine of British colonial India, Culinary Jottings for Madras by Wyvern (Col. A. Kenney Herbert).

Title page of Culinary Jottings... Wyvern

While Col. Kenney-Herbert was stationed in British India he wrote articles for the Madras Atheneum and Daily News under the pen name, “Wyvern.” These articles formed the basis for Culinary Jottings.

According to Alan Davidson (1999),

The colonel believed in surrounding his recipes with historical material, etymological explanations, amusing anecdotes, and, above all, every detail that seemed relevant to him about the choice and purchase of ingredients as well as the preparation of the dish itself.

Besides being the best British colonial Indian cookery book, Culinary Jottings represents a budding genre of cookery writing.

Since I started selling cook books in 1989, I haven’t been lucky enough to come across a copy of Culinary Jottings except at the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.

A virtual copy of the fifth edition can be read at the Internet Archive. A reprint with a great introduction is available from Prospect Books.

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