The ABC of Cookery

This is a reprint of a book released in Britain by the long-gone Ministry of Food. It was published in 1945, five years after rationing had been introduced, a time when people ate to live. As the ministry explains in the introduction, "This is not a recipe book. It is a book which explains cookery methods; methods useful in days of plenty as well as in times of rationing."

The insight into the past is fascinating. The ministry felt the need to explain words such as "baking" ("this term is used to cover all foods which are cooked in an oven"), "boiling" ("a liquid boils when the surface is continually agitated by large bubbles") and "brush with egg or milk" ("this means to cover the surface of the food with an even coating of egg or milk").

It's also interesting to see what people were eating then. What cookbook today - except the ones that boast of nose-to-tail eating - would give advice on how much brain, sheep's head, liver and pig kidneys to buy for a meal for two? And while we think of English food back in those days as being bland, it wasn't for lack of trying, as the ministry did introduce cooks to spices such as curry powder, garlic and chillies.