The common sayings about waste in American kitchens, dyspeptic results of American cooking, etc., reflect the opinion held by other nations of our culinary art, and though the judgment may be too severe, it has been pronounced, and should remind us of our shortcomings.
It seems, however, as though a new era were now dawning. Cooking-schools are established in large cities, cooking lectures are given everywhere and are well attended. The nutritive values of different foods and the chemistry of cooking are studied. This, and the recognition of the fact that health proceeds largely from the diet, seem to indicate that there has been an awakening of interest in the subject of gastronomy. In this day of fads, it will soon be discovered also that pleasures lie in this line of work. Fancy cooking has an interest quite as engaging as other occupations of diversion. Fine cooking utensils, gas-stoves, and modern conveniences, make the well-appointed kitchen as attractive as the laboratory or workshop. Trying a new dish has the same interest as any other experiment. The construction of ornamental pieces is as interesting as other fancy work. Making puff-paste, ice-creams, fancy molding of desserts and salads, boiling sugar, etc., are in reality simple processes, and with very little practice found to be as easy to prepare as dishes which from familiarity have come to be called plain cooking. Skill and dexterity of hand may be enjoyed in boning, trussing, and larding, and taste shown in decorating with truffles and other articles, in molding with flowers and fruits, in icing cakes, in spinning sugar, and in making bonbons. The pleasure of decorating the table and adorning the dining-room will be found secondary to that of preparing artistic dishes when that art has once been learned.
The gas-stove obviates the objection, formerly existing, of one's being subjected to excessive heat while cooking. At a cost of about $2.00 a stove can be bought which will stand on a table anywhere, and answer all ordinary purposes of boiling and frying. More expensive ones, fitted with ovens and other appliances, answer the requirements of all kinds of cooking.
When the preparation of anew or a fancy dish comes to be looked upon as a pastime instead of a task, there may be discovered in America Savarins and Bechamels. We have already had a Sam Ward, but to the women should belong the honor of raising our standard of cooking, and though they need not agree with the terrible sentiment expressed by Margaret Fuller, that a woman to have influence must cook or scold, still it must be conceded that the former accomplishment will enable her to wield a potent scepter. Perhaps, however, the strongest word to be said in favor of every mistress of a house knowing how to cook is the usefulness of it. The difficulty of getting trained cooks at reasonable wages, the caprices of the class, whose consciences do not prevent their leaving at the moment when their services are most needed, and the many occasions that arise when a knowledge of cooking is of the greatest comfort and service, make it difficult, for those who know how to cook, to comprehend how any one can keep house without this knowledge, or how, with the inferior service generally rendered, the pleasures of hospitality can be enjoyed, or the comfort of a well-ordered culinary department experienced.