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'Wyvern' was a colonel in the Indian Army and long resident of Madras who whiled away his spare time writing about cookery in the Madras Athenaeum and Daily News. The upshot of his interesting hobby was this book, which set out to instruct the memsahibs of the day in the best ways to cope with Indian kitchen staff and cooking arrangements and in how to produce decent English and French food with local ingredients and imported supplies. It is a fascinating hybrid, for it tells the modern reader a great deal about Anglo-Indian cookery while providing a matchless description of Victorian haute cuisine. There is possibly no better introduction to good cookery than this book. So talented a teacher was 'Wyvern' that when he came home to Britain he set up a successful cookery school in London. His subsequent books, most notably Commonsense Cookery, were also models of their type, though in many respects never improved on his first attempt, published here.
Leslie Forbes has contributed a bravura introduction. The chapters cover every aspect of the kitchen, from the cook and his management, the store-room, and the batterie de cuisine, to all dishes suitable for dainty dining. Chapters on 'Our Curries,' 'Camp Cookery,' and 'Our Kitchens in India' are also included. Extensive model menus for parties of six or eight people or for 'Little Home Dinners' round out the volume. Elizabeth David once said of this book: "I should recommend anyone with a taste for Victorian gastronomic literature to snap [Wyvern's recipes] up.His recipes are so meticulous and clear that the absolute beginner could follow them, yet at the same time he has much to teach the experienced cook.
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