Saturday, May 28, 2016

Advertisement for "Valuable Cooking Receipts" (Yes, "receipts")

This advertising card measures 2½ inches by 4⅝ inches and features a colorful illustration of two girls using parasols to shield themselves from the sun. Besides the fact that it's a nice example of an advertising card from a century ago, what piqued my interest most was the use of the word "receipt" in place of the word "recipe."

Here's the text from the front:
VALUABLE COOKING RECEIPTS By the late Caterer of Astor House, N.Y., and Continental Hotel, Philadelphia. Every receipt test. Price 35 cents. Order it of your bookseller.
And here is some text from the back:
THESE RECEIPTS are the fruit of twenty-five years' experience in catering for the leading hotels and restaurants of this continent, as well as for famous private dinner parties. The greatest care has been taken to so construct each formula that economy can be secured without sacrificing any quality that would contribute to the delicacy of a dish. No one who appreciates good living should fail to secure this very moderate-priced book at the earliest opportunity.
19 Park Place, New York
Valuable Cooking Receipts is the official title of the book, and it was first published in 1880. The price of 35 cents then equates to about $8.67 today, making it a pretty fair value. You can read the whole book online here. Recipes on the first few pages include oyster patties, mock turtle soup (from a calf's head), economical pea soup, broiled lobster (for breakfast), fricasseed eels, eel patties, boiled leg of mutton, calf's head, fried calf's head, calf's head broiled, calf's head collared, calf's brains en Matelotte, calf's brains fried and ... OK, we're done.1

But what about calling recipes "receipts"? There was a time when it was fairly common. As is often the case with the convoluted English language, the tale of receipts and recipes is a long and convoluted one. A 2014 post on the lizzyoungbookseller blog does its best to sum up the etymology:
"The Latin word 'recipere,' from which both words are derived, means 'to receive' or 'to take.' Each is simply a different form of the word. Both forms were first used in the fourteenth century. ... In both instances, the words refer not to food, but to medicine. Indeed, the first receipts were prescriptions for medicinal preparations. They would list ingredients, quantities, and the proper way to mix the ingredients. Most receipts started with 'recipe,' which is the imperative form of 'recipere,' as in 'Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.' ... The first citation for 'receipt' in relation to cooking was in 1716, and recipe followed soon after. Initially, 'receipt' was the preferred term, but it’s now considered defunct in terms of its original meaning."
In addition to that post, some other good discussions on the topic include:

Even today, the usage of "receipts" for "recipes" exists among old-timers in some pockets of the United States. Indeed, Joan says she has some readers who still say "receipts," though they pronounce it Re-SEEPS, which is a whole nother story...

1. OK, I peeked a little further ahead. Additional recipes include chicken toast, braise of duck with turnips, broiled tripe, tripe Lyonnaise, roast pigeon ("A favorite dish of the members of the Club of Lindenthorpe, on the Delaware."), roast snipe, roly-poly pudding, whortleberry cake, blanc-mange, and stewed dandelion.

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