"KENTUCKY BATTER BREAD, KENTUCKY BURGOUT, KENTUCKY BAKED HAM": FIRST EDITION OF FOX'S THE BLUE GRASS COOK BOOK, 1904, WITH 11 PHOTOGRAPHS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN COOKS BY ALVIN LANGDON COBURN
FOX, Minnie C., compiler, and COBURN, Alvin Langdon, photographer. The Blue Grass Cook Book. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Octavo, original blue-gray cloth. $1750.
First edition of this ode to the early 20th-century Kentucky kitchen, featuring dozens of traditional Blue Grass recipes, with one illustrated plate of corn dodgers and biscuits and 11 photographic plates of African-American cooks by acclaimed photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn.
This unusual Kentucky cookbook from the turn of the 20th century represents the first time African-American cooks were explicitly credited with their contributions to Southern cuisine. "Many of these [recipes] must be veritable heirlooms, precious souvenirs of the past, the originals of which were in faded ink, just as they were inscribed by loving hands of mothers and grandmothers" (contemporary review, New York Times). "This century-old treasure of Southern cooking attests to the rich contribution of African Americans to a storied cuisine. Its author, Minnie Fox, and her author brother, who wrote the introduction, were probably the first Southern whites ever to acknowledge the role of black culinary genius" (Sidney W. Mintz). Poised at a crucial turning point in the history of photography, representing the "transition from pictorialism to modernism, from 19th- to 20th-century photography," the work of Alvin Langdon Coburn illuminates "the concern of the more advanced pictorialist with 'modern' subjects… a shift in attitude that triggered the final push towards photographic modernism" (Parr & Badger I:74). Cagle & Stafford 270. Contemporary ink owner signature.
A few spots of soiling to interior, front inner paper hinge split, light wear and soiling to cloth, mild toning to spine. An extremely good copy.