‘Cuisinologist’, First Usage in 1911

The first instance of the word cuisinologist appears to be in the book “Judgments In Vacation”, by London-born Judge Sir Edward Abbott Parry in 1911. The Wikipedia article on Sir Edward doesn’t list this book among his works. A complete copy has been hosted as a PDF by the University Of Toronto Libraries, and the book is now considered to be in the public domain. The Toronto copy of “Judgments In Vacation” can be downloaded here.

Besides being a County Judge from 1894 until 1911, then being appointed to a Pensions Appeal Tribunal in 1917, His Honour also wrote books, including childrens’ books, and was also a playright. “Judgments In Vacation” is a rather humorous autobiography. For example, when writing about the box office:

There is something essentially English in the very name of the institution the Box Office. About the only thing an average Box Office cannot sell is boxes. When it begins to sell boxes the happy proprietor knows that, in American phrase, he has ‘got right there.’ But every sane manager, every sane actor, and all sane individuals who minister to the amusement of the people, close their ears to the wranglings of the critics and listen attentively to the voice of the Box Office. The Box Office is the barometer of public opinion, the machine that records the vox populi, which is far nearer the vox Dei than the voice of the expert witness. [Parry, Sir Edward Abbott. Judgments In Vacation. Smith, Elder & Co.; Manchester, Sherratt & Hughes, 1911. p. 2 – 3.]

In the Preface Sir Edward mentions that some of the pieces in the book were previously published by periodicals. While he then describes a few of the chapters, the third unnumbered chapter in the book, “Cookery Book Talk”, the chapter of interest in our dicussion, isn’t mentioned in the Preface. It’s unknown yet if it was published earlier than 1911.

Sir Edward uses the phrase “Cookery Book Talk” in capitalized form throughout the chapter as a euphemism for the act of talking about food. The phrase “Cookery Book” is also used to indicate the subject of food as a discussion point.

The word cuisinologist is found in the first paragraph of this piece in a historic manner beginning with a quote from Shakespeare’s work “Cymbeline”. The piece as a whole is a lot of fun to read, particularly since the police are invoked at the end. As the book is in the public domain, we include the entire chapter “Cookery Book Talk” below. Enjoy.

Arviragus. How angel-like he sings!
Guiderius. But his neat cookery! he cut our roots in characters,
And sauc’d our broths as Juno had been sick
And he her dieter.
Cymbeline iv. 2.

In this passage Shakespeare exalts cookery above songs that are merely angel-like, and anyone who has dined at a modern restaurant with “music off” as part of the stage directions will agree with Guiderius that it is impertinent to consider the merit of song at moments that should be given to the praise of cookery. Incidentally, too, the passage has a value for the cuisinologist of an antiquarian turn of mind by pointing out that the decoration of dishes with alphabetical carrots and turnips, “roots cut in characters,” was a commonplace of the Shakespearean table.

And if in a detached passage from a dramatic writer we can find so much culinary thought, how much more remains to be sought after in those masterpieces of kitchen literature given to the world by the great artist cooks of bygone centuries. It has always been a matter of considerable surprise to me that so few people really read their Cookery Book with any diligence and attention. There is no subject of conversation so popular as Cookery Book. It blends together all persons in a common chorus of talk irrespective of rank, age, sex, religion and education. The dullest eye lights up and a ripple crosses the most stagnant mind when the dying embers of formal conversation are called into brilliant flames by a few pages from the Cookery Book. Every one lays claim to take a hand at Cookery Book talk, no one is too bashful or ignorant in his own seeming, and yet how few really bring to the discussion a sound literary knowledge of even Mrs. Beeton and Francatelli, and how many prate of cookery to whom Mrs. Glasse and John Farley are unknown names. No one will talk of Shakespeare and the musical glasses without at least a slight knowledge of Charles Lamb’s delightful nursery tales and the study of an article on the theory of music in “Snippy Bits.” But if Cookery Book is mentioned and in ordinary society the subject is generally reached in the first ten minutes after the introduction the humblest and most ignorant is found laying down the law with the misplaced confidence of a county magistrate. And yet with Cookery Book as with lower forms of learning one can never tell whence illumination may spring. True indeed is it that out of the mouths of babes and sucklings strength is ordained.

I remember a beautiful and remarkable instance of this which occurred but recently. I was privileged to dine at the family table of a great artist and there were present besides myself several others of sound learning and religious education from whom might be expected stimulating and rational conversation. We began I remember with the Pre-Raphaelites and ox-tail soup. Albert Durer started with the fish but “failed to stay the course,” as a sporting friend of my host remarked. He it was who brought the conversation round to the haven and heaven of all conversation Cookery Book. He told a story of a haggis which drew from my host an ardent Scotsman a learned and literary defence of the haggis, which in common with the thistle, the bagpipes and Burns poetry it is a matter of patriotism for a Scotsman to uphold in the company of aliens. There was no doubt that my friend broke down in cross-examination as to the actual contents of the haggis, but as to the necessity of drinking raw whisky at short intervals during its consumption he was eloquent and convincing. When he had finished or maybe before I began to describe the inward beauties of a well-grilled mutton chop, and to detail an interesting discussion I had had the week before with a Dean of the Church of England on the respective merits of Sam’s Chop House in Manchester and the South Kensington Museum Grill Room. Listening is I fear a lost art for my entertaining reminiscences were broken into by a babel of tongues. Every one named his or her particular and favourite dish which was discussed rejected, laughed at and dismissed by the rest of the company. So loud was the clash of tongues that you might have imagined you were taking part in a solemn council at Pandemonium, when suddenly the shower of Cookerv Book talk dried up and there was a pause, a lull a silence. At that moment the youngest son of the house whose little curly head like one of those heads of Sir Joshua’s angels rested on his hands as he listened to the earnest converse of his grave elders this child threw down before us a pearl of simple wisdom “Surely you have forgotten bread sauce and chicken!” And so we had. The artist also remembered that we had left out sucking pig. The conversation started with renewed force. The whole question of onions in bread sauce was exhaustively debated and a happy evening was spent in congenial and intellectual conversation.

But how seldom it is that you find yourself among persons capable of discussing with knowledge any of the nicer problems of the kitchen. At my own table the other day a graduate of Cambridge actually asked my wife whether she put maraschino or curafoa in the Hock cup. Yet in educational affairs this man passes for a rational and highly cultivated man. Colossal ignorance of this type is but too common. I have stayed but never for more than one week-end with families of the highest respectability to whom tarragon vinegar is unknown, and I once entertained a Judge of the High Court who did not know the difference between Nepaul and Cayenne pepper, yet in his daily life he must have been called upon to decide differences of graver importance.

I wish I had the pen and the inspiration of one of the early prophets to rouse my countrymen to urge upon Education Committees, schools and universities their duty in dealing with this national ignorance. But one may at least make a practical suggestion. Why should not “What to do with the Cold Mutton” be read as a first reader in our elementary schools? It touches on no points of doctrine and teaches truths that both Anglican and Nonconformist could discuss pleasantly at a common board.

Once the young mind has tasted of the delight of the literary side of cookery a demand would spring up for the re-publication of many earnest, eloquent and scientific Cookery books of olden time. The eighteenth century was a golden age in the literature of cookery, and the works of Charlotte Mason, Sarah Harrison’s “Housekeeper’s Pocket Book,” and Elizabeth Marshall’s “Young Ladies’ Guide in the Art of Cookery,” these are books that should be in every polite library. For myself I prefer what may be called the Archaeology of Cookery and the study of “The Proper New Book of Cookery, 1546,” or Partridge’s “Treasury of Commodious Conceits and Hidden Secrets, 1580?” will have a charm for all who like to pierce the veil that hides the old world from us. We have moved on since then it is true, but for my part I like to learn how to “pot a Swan” or “make an Olio Pye,” though such learning is no longer practical.

To those who have not access to the original editions of the classics, let me commend that charming volume of the Book Lovers’ Library, Mr. W. Carew Hazlitt’s “Old Cookery Books.” Problems are there touched upon that when we have a serious business Government untrammelled by party ties will be solved by Royal Commissions dealing with the various aspects of cookery which, as an old writer says, is “The Key of Living.” It was Tobias Venner, as long ago as 1620, who endeavoured to dissuade the poor from eating partridges, because they were calculated to promote asthma. Many Poor Law Commissions have sat since then, but the truth of Venner’s theory has never yet been subjected to modern scientific criticism, and every year from September to February the poor continue to remain under the shadow of asthma. The Government give us volumes of historical records, but I search in vain among them for the way to make Mrs. Leed’s Cheesecakes and “The Lord Conway, His Lordship’s receipt for the making of Amber Pudding.” Thus are we trifled with by our rulers, few of whom I think could tell us without research why the porpoise and the peacock no longer grace the tables of Royal persons.

But see how Nature supplements the mistakes of mankind. True it is that Governments do nothing for our greatest art, sadly true it is that the great masterpieces of culinary writing remain on the shelves, and disgracefully true it is that among the idle rich of our universities there is not one Professor of Cookery though there be many ignorant critics of the Art at high tables. And yet, round every board, simple or noble, with the steam that rises from the cooked meats comes the heartfelt praise of mankind rejoicing to lift up the voice in that Cookery Book talk, which is the oral tradition that carries on the religion of the “Key of Living.”

Indeed, there is only one human being who does not talk about Cookery, and that is the high Priestess herself the Cook. This I have on the evidence of a policeman. [Parry, Sir Edward Abbott. Judgments In Vacation. Smith, Elder & Co.; Manchester, Sherratt & Hughes, 1911. p. 45 – 51.]