The reason why cooking in America is, as a rule, so inferior is not because American women are less able and apt than the women of France, and not because the American men do not discuss and appreciate the merits of good cooking and the pleasure of entertaining friends at their own table; it is mere-ly because American women seem possessed with the idea that it is not the fashion to know how to cook; that, as an accom-plishment, the art of cooking is not as ornamental as that of needle-work or piano-playing. I do not undervalue these last accomplishments. A young lady of esprit should understand them; but she should understand, also, the accomplishment of cooking. A young lady can scarcely have too many accomplishments, for they serve to adorn her home, and are attractive and charming, generally. But of them all - painting, music, fancy work, or foreign language - is there one more fascinating and useful, or one which argues more intelligence in its acquisition, than the accomplishment of cooking ?
What would more delight Adolphus than to discover that his pretty fiancée, Julia, was an accomplished cook; that with her dainty fingers she could gracefully dash off a creamy orne-let, and by miraculous manœuvres could produce to his astonished vicw a dozen different kaleidoscopic omelets, aux fines herbes, aux huîtres, aux petits pois, aux tomates, etc.; and not only that, but scientific croquettes, mysterious soups, delicious salads, marvelous sauces, and the hundred and one savory re-sults of a little artistic skill ? Delighted Adolphus - if a sensible man, and such a woman should have no other than a sensible man - would consider this as the chef-d'œuvre of all her ac-complishments, as he regarded her the charming assurance of so many future comforts.
From innate coquetry alone the French women appreciate the powers of their dainty table. Cooking is an art they culti-vate. Any of the haut monde are proud to originate a new dish, many famous ones doing them credit in bearing their names.
One thing is quite evident in America - that the want of this ornamental and useful information is most deplorable. The inefficiency, in this respect, of Western and Southern women, brought up under the system of slavery, is somewhat greater than that of the women of the Northern and Eastern States; however, as a nation, there is little to praise in this regard in any locality. Professor Blot endeavored to come to the rescue. Every man applauded his enterprise; yet I can myself testify to the indifference of the women - his classes for the study of cookery numbering by units where they should have number-ed by hundreds. He soon discontinued his instructive endeav-ors, and at last died a poor man.
There is little difficulty abroad in obtaining good cooks at reasonable prices, who have pursued regular courses of instruction in their trade: not so in America. Hospitality demands the entertaining of friends at the social board; yet it is almost impossible to do so in this country in an acceptable manner, unless the hostess herself not only has a proper idea of the serving of a table, but of the art of cooking the dishes them-selves as well. In some of the larger cities, satisfactory dinners and trained waiters may be provided at an enormous cost at the famous restaurants, where the meal may appear home-like and elegant. But unfortunate is the woman, generally, who wants to do "the correct thing," and, wishing to entertain at dinner, relies upon the sense, good taste, and management of the proprietor of a restaurant. She may confidently rely upon one thing - an extortionate bill; and, generally, as well, upon a vulgar display, which poorly imitates the manner of refined private establishments.
However, "living for the world" seems very contemptible in comparison with the importance of that wholesome, satisfactory, every-day living which so vitally concerns the health and pleasure of the family circle.
But why waste time in asserting these self - evident facts ? They are acknowledged and proclaimed every day by suffering humanity; yet the difficulty is not remedied. Is there a remedy, then ? Yes. This is a free country, yet Dame Fashion is the Queen. Make it the fashion, then, that the art and science of cookery shall be classed among the necessary accomplishments of every well-educated lady. This is a manifest duty on the part of ladies of influence and position, even if the object be only for the benefit of the country at large. Let these ladies be accomplished artists in cookery. The rest will soon follow. There will be plenty of imitators.
Many ladies of rank in England have written valuable books on cookery, and on the effects resulting from the want of the knowledge. None wrote better than Lady Morgan. Speaking of clubs, she says:
"The social want of the times, however, brought its remedy along with it, and the reaction was astounding. . . . Then it was that clubs arose - homes of refuge to destitute celibacy, chapels of ease to discontented husbands. There, men could dine, like gentlemen and Christians, upon all the friandises of the French kitchen, much cheaper and far more wholesomely than at their own tables upon the tough, half-sodden fibres of the national roast and boiled, or on the hazardous resources of hash, gravy soup, and marrow puddings.
"Moral England gave in. The English 'home' - that temple of the heart, that centre of all the virtues - was left to the solitary enjoyment of the English wives.
"To your casseroles, then, women of Britain ! Would you, with a falconer's voice, lure your faithless tassels back again?
Apply to the practical remedy of your wrongs; proceed to the reform of your domestic government, and tum your thoughts to that art which, coming into action every day in the year during the longest life, includes within its circles the whole philosophy of economy and order, the preservation of good health, and the tone of good society - and all peculiarly within your province."