The Compendium Of Too Many Cooks Document in Ouresboros | World Anvil

The Compendium Of Too Many Cooks

"The Compendium of Too Many Cooks" is a satirical book by an unknown author, that supposedly collects all the greatest recipes from the best cooks "anywhere".  


In the 17th century, cooking books written by people who claimed to be cooks at the royal courts of Imelia, saw a surge in popularity across the continent. The books were typified by the overt usage of flowery language in the recipes and the self-aggrandizing tone, applied when the writers would provide a background story or anecdote to the recipes.
  In 1678 a small Berrican publisher, named Jorges & Sons, released "The Compendium of Too Many Cooks" from an uncredited writer. The book was a complete anti-thesis to the cooking books that enjoyed popularity back then. The recipes were presented in various styles, ranging from really dry descriptions to more the more grotesque.
  The book was considered an unreadable mess, out to equally bore, disgust and shock its readers, rather than to entice them to explore any of the culinary offerings. While it saw wider sales at the beginning, interest quickly waned. Shortly after Jorges & Sons was sold to the Ulfs family, along with all of their publishing ownerships.
  Ulfs Prints continued doing reprints of the Compendium every few years. Eventually the book found its cult following, with even some literary dissertations finding their way to academic circles. Then in 1708, celebrating it's 30th anniversary, Ulfs released an illustrated edition. This imprint, would catapult the book to its popular status, that it still enjoys today.  

The recipes

The recipes are mostly for dishes, that even at the time of their original publishing; were considered common or even bland and boring. Fans of the first imprint, saw this combined with it foreword, as a form of open irreverence, towards the then popular style of celebrating opulence. Other writers would go out of their way to write about great dishes involving ingredients that people barely knew existed, let alone could get their hands on.
  It was however a small selection of dishes that would initially disgust reviewers and readers alike, but in turn lead to the book's popularity. One of the most famous ones was a seasoned veal stew dish, that was accompanied by a recipe that went into horrific details. It went as far as starting with a precise description on how to slaughter the calf for its meat. Another of the more shocking ones called for the usage of "old flesh", while aged meat was likely implied, the usage of the word "flesh" gave the description of the dish cannibalistic undertones.   When Ulfs eventually released their illustrated edition, they banked on the perception people had of the book. Just like the recipes, the illustrations were a mix of quaint still lifes and almost overly detailed clinical impressions of food preparation.
by Fluofish
Manual, Culinary

Cover image: by Diliff


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