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The Cookbook Library

Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook

Anne Willan (Author), Mark Cherniavsky (Author), Kyri Claflin (Contributor)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 344 pages
ISBN: 9780520244009
April 2012
$54.95, £43.00
This gorgeously illustrated volume began as notes on the collection of cookbooks and culinary images gathered by renowned cookbook author Anne Willan and her husband Mark Cherniavsky. From the spiced sauces of medieval times to the massive roasts and ragoûts of Louis XIV’s court to elegant eighteenth-century chilled desserts, The Cookbook Library draws from renowned cookbook author Anne Willan’s and her husband Mark Cherniavsky’s antiquarian cookbook library to guide readers through four centuries of European and early American cuisine. As the authors taste their way through the centuries, describing how each cookbook reflects its time, Willan illuminates culinary crosscurrents among the cuisines of England, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. A deeply personal labor of love, The Cookbook Library traces the history of the recipe and includes some of their favorites.
Anne Willan, founder of La Varenne Cooking School, is the author of many cookbooks including the James Beard Award winner, The Country Cooking of France. Mark Cherniavsky has collected antiquarian cookbooks for more than fifty years. Kyri Claflin is coeditor of Writing Food History: A Global Perspective.
“A wonderfully researched and beautifully illustrated work, "The Cookbook Library" is at once an engaging read and an invaluable resource for anyone passionate about food and food history.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A wonderfully researched and beautifully illustrated work, ‘The Cookbook Library’ is at once an engaging read and an invaluable resource for anyone passionate about food and food history.”—Noelle Carter Los Angeles Times
“The Cookbook Library is a treat for food lovers, with rich illustrations to add a visual dimension to the description of Willan’s colossal library.”—Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
“The Cookbook Library is a treat for food lovers, with rich illustrations to add a visual dimension to the description of Willan’s colossal library.”—William Sitwell Times Literary Supplement
“For years or decades to come, this beautiful volume is going to be an indispensable resource for readers and researchers in love with the history of cookbooks. Certainly it will become one of my own hunting grounds for the answers to many mysteries. . . . Belongs in any real cookbook lover's library.”—Anne Mendelson Zester Daily
“’Old cookbooks are captivating, and important too, leading us into the world beyond the hearth,’ writes Willan in this beautifully illustrated survey of their 200 books, dating from 1474 to 1830. As she leads readers from the floridly spiced ‘hochepots’ of medieval master chef Taillevent, to the visionary Renaissance kitchen of Bartolomeo Scappi's Opera, to Francois Menon's 1746 La Cuisinière Bourgeoise, it's clear this book is as much about the evolution of European society as it is about what they ate. Whether it was the medieval spice trade (when a pound of nutmeg was worth seven fat oxen) or the 16th-century sugar rush (coinciding with colonial expansion), Western history lies in these ancient recipes.”—Craig Laban, Inquirer Restaurant Critic Philadelphia Inquirer
“If you really love cookbooks (or books in general) and you love history, this is a book you have to read. . . . I’m still only about halfway through, not because it’s slow going, but because this is a book to read and savor –- I’m parsing out a small section at a time and already regretting the day I finish it.”—Los Angeles Times
“Absorbing ragout of serious history, beautiful coffee-table book and practical kitchen guide.”—Scotsman
“In a market glutted with books on cookery that offer next to nothing fresh or of interest, this authoritative volume, which reminds us of our culinary heritage, is like a breath of fresh air. . . . Bypass the dross and seek out this volume for a most rewarding read on the history of cookbooks and for the ownership of a beautifully produced book- one for the library, not for bespattering in the kitchen.”—Australian Book Review
“A wonderfully researched and beautifully illustrated work. . . at once an engaging read and an invaluable resource for anyone passionate about food and food history.”—Chicago Tribune
“A beautiful culinary volume and an important addition to the field of culinary history.”—French Affaires/ Elizabeth’s Blog
“Fascinating new history. . . . It’s The Cookbook Library’s trivia that stands out.”—Globe & Mail
“Cooking enthusiasts enjoy books with recipes they can’t wait to try. History buffs delight in reading material covering various time periods and the people therein. The Cookbook Library combines both worlds into one book that proves genuinely hard to put down no matter whether you’re more comfortable in the kitchen or the library.”—Herald Democrat Newspaper
“How and why cookbooks were written, their intended audience, the codification of recipe writing—all this is endlessly fascinating to me, and the ambitious scope of this subject makes for some serious reading and digesting.”—Orange Coast Magazine
“A fascinating history of cookbooks for foodies. Beautifully written it’s a must-have for anyone who finds themselves glued to the likes of Food TV.”—Posh Mom
“The book is captivating in its style, with terrific historical illustrations. They are magical. . . . For those that are into cooking, it is a great centerpiece to any collection.”—SF / Sacramento Book Rev / 1776 Prod
“Whether you are a cookbook addict or someone who just wants to learn about the evolution of recipes, check out The Cookbook Library. You will find it a fascinating read.”—SFGate/Inside Scoop
“Tells a sprawling true story of kitchens, cooks, recipes, and changing tastes over an expanse of some 400 years.”—Shafer Wine & Food
“A life’s work of such importance and gravitas that anyone that has real interest in food and cooking must read it.”—Virginia Willis Culinary Productions
“As much a practical kitchen aid as a history of the cookbook itself and a cultural record of how the Western world has dined.”—Wall Street Journal
“Food and history buffs will delight in reading The Cookbook Library. . . . No crumb has been left unturned. . . . If you love food history, this one is for you.”—
Sure, we'll always dig perusing food blogs on the reg, but sometimes we love the feeling of leafing through pages of recipes, which is why we'll be at Willan's signing on Saturday to receive her John Hancock.—Www.refinery29.Com
"An inspiring and informative read."—Santé
“Collecting cookbooks is an exciting, provoking, challenging, and rewarding passion. In The Cookbook Library, Anne Willan gives us a fascinating collection of stories and recipes from European and early American historical cookbooks. It is a must for anyone interested in culinary history.” —Jacques Pepin, author of Essential Pepin

“Anyone who cares about cooking will care deeply about what Anne Willan has to tell us about its history as it was set down centuries ago and passed on to us through the rare cookbooks she and her husband have collected and cherished for almost fifty years. With great intelligence and tremendous charm, Willan helps us to understand where recipes came from, who created them, who cooked them, who recorded them, who ate what was recorded and in what fashion. It is a delicious history that, like all good histories—and good stories—illuminates the present.” —Dorie Greenspan, author of Around My French Table

“It is evident even from the first page that this is a book every serious foodie will need to own, consult, and use with pleasure and profit, and remarkable that the authors have written a volume that is both scholarly and so much fun to read.” —Paul Levy, author of The Official Foodie Handbook

“Forty-five years in the making, this volume was worth the wait. In The Cookbook Library Anne Willan and Mark Cherniavsky draw on their fine personal collection to illuminate the art, science, and importance of early cookbooks. It is a pleasurable read, filled with history, lore, recipes, and illustrations in a superb presentation. It will be an unequaled reference work for historians, bibliophiles, culinarians, and collectors.” —Jan Longone, Curator of American Culinary History, Clements Library, University of Michigan

“Anne Willan and Mark Cherniavsky love cookbooks and live among thousands of them. It’s a great gift to us that they’ve now shared their world-class collection and all of its delights. In The Cookbook Library, they take you on a fascinating journey from medieval kitchens through the nineteenth century. It’s the perfect book for anyone interested in food history.” —Amanda Hesser, cofounder of

The Jane Grigson Award, International Association of Culinary Professionals

Finalist in Reference and Scholarship, James Beard Foundation Awards

Finalist, IACP Cookbook Award for Culinary History, International Association of Culinary Professionals

The Hall of Fame Award, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

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