Looking at Shoals-inspired cookbooks

Whet your appetite here!

Story and graphics by Jim Cerny

My interest in the Isles of Shoals makes me aware of two cookbooks inspired by those Islands: the Appledore Cook Book and the Star Island Cook Book. And in the process of writing this article I made an unexpected discovery, that a new Shoals cookbook is in preparation!

Let's start by taking a look at the two existing books, separated from us by 136 years and 60 years respectively.

Parloa, 1878 edition.

One usage note "cookbook" is rendered as one word except when quoting these original titles.

Parloa's Appledore Cook Book

Maria Parloa (1843-1909) was prominent in the last half of the 1800s in promoting cooking through her teaching schools and writings.  Best known is her first book, The Appledore Cook Book, published in 1872 and reprinted in a number of editions, based on her experience in cooking at resorts such as the Appledore House hotel at the Isles of Shoals. The book is 234 printed pages, with additional blank pages bound in at the end for writing in recipes in my copy someone has written in a recipe for "a bisque of clams."

To get a sense of her approach, see this advice on cooking fish:

From page 26 of the Appledore Cook Book.

Parloa's recipes are for family-sized cooking, despite her resort experience. Take a look at her recipe for Appledore Pudding, to be included in the forthcoming cookbook mentioned below:

From page 143 of the Appledore Cook Book.

Parloa's cookbook is readily available after all these years, thanks to the Web. As a book no longer in copyright it has been scanned and is available in several formats from both Google Books and the Internet Archive. Some libraries have the book, occasionally copies are available through used booksellers, and there may be some print-on-demand services supplying reprints.

Parloa's cooking is getting a revival at the Shoals Marine Lab. In summer, 2008, the Lab offered an "Appledore House Weekend", which featured meals from the cookbook. Watch for it again in 2009!

Wade's Isles of Shoals Cook Book

This cookbook was published by the Isles of Shoals Unitarian Association about 1948 (inferred, as it is undated), edited by a Unitarian named Faustina "Fausty" Wade, who was active and well-known at the time. The book runs to 214 pages, is hand-lettered, and with a plastic spiral binding. The purpose was to raise money for Star Island maintenance and it drew upon the religious community for its recipes and for its sales, with over 2,000 contributors. In all these respects it is a precursor to the New Castle cookbook, The Great Island Cook Book, that Bill Drew wrote about in January, 2008.

From page v of the Wade Cook Book. Click to see the complete page.

The exceptional hand lettering is not explicitly credited, but was probably done by Carol Hartwell. The line drawings were done by Howard H. Searles. Copies of this cookbook are not readily available, however, either through libraries or used booksellers. Because it is still in copyright, it has not been scanned for one of the Internet book archives.

From page 59 of the Wade Cook Book. Click to see the complete page.

Coming in 2009

Deborah Weiner Soule and Sarah Wicker are working on a new Star Island cookbook with the working title of The Family Table, to be published in late 2009. The content will be different from these earlier books:
The book will have three parts: one on the philosophy of serving food 'family style,' which is what folks find when they visit Star (and what they found over the years on the Isles of Shoals) and why this style of the family table embodies so much of the values of the Star Island conference center; a part on the history of food service on the Islands, which will include a number of 'historic' recipes and information about food preparation and treatment on the Islands (not a simple thing, given what you need to do to get food to the islands!); and the third part the most substantial will include the recipes that have been used in the Star kitchens over most of the last decade. We'll begin each section with a recipe for 350 (just for impact!) and then offer recipes designed to serve 8-10. [Deborah Weiner Soule, Director of Electronic Communication, Unitarian Universalist Association]
Does the world need more cookbooks? Publishers find the answer is a decided "yes!" An October, 2008, article in the New York Times indicates more than 400 new cookbooks are published each year, with total sales in that publishing category on the order of 14 million copies. And with its local interest, this new Shoals cookbook can aspire to the success of the already mentioned Great Island Cook Book, which has been in print for 33 years and has sold over 21,000 copies.

November, 2008