Sunday, 23 September 2012

Cooks and Authors compared.

The Sutler - Peter von Hess

The world of the cook and that of the writer overlap more than we may think. In the satirical sketch (1735) quoted below, the author compares the irritablity and sauciness of writers and cooks, before proceeding to deploy the different categories of cooks as a way of satirising political and society  figures. 

Furthermore, types of cookery serve to illustrate social boundaries and divisions. Dr King's Art of Cookery was a culinary satire, based on grotesque imitation of the ancient Latin poet, Horace, whose Art of Poetry was celebrated as a witty manual of what to imitate and what to avoid, if you wanted to achieve the classical aesthetic as a writer.

The Resemblance between Authors and Cooks, probably gave Dr King the Hint of turning Horace's Art of Poetry into the Art of Cookery; and indeed a direct Comparison may be made between the 2 Professions. As, 1. Cooks are generally cholerick, or saucy, and are apt to lay Hands on any Body that comes in their Way. Horace calls Authors- Genus irritabile vatum; which may be applied to Prose Writers, as well as Poets; for to speak the Truth, there is not a more waspish Race of Animals upon Earth than most of our modern Authors.
   Of Cooks there are various Kinds, as well as of Authors. L—d Fanny, for Instance, is a Pastry-Cook, who deals altogether in Puff-paste, and pretty Crinkum Crankums—— Dame Osborne is one of those Women Cooks, who pretend to nothing more than plain Roasting and Boiling ; nay, she does this so sluttishly, that it's surprising to see her continued so long in a Gentleman's Service, but being an Old Stander, and let into the Secrets of the Family, her Master may be afraid to turn her off. Mr Walsingham gives himself the Air of a Cook of Quality, tho' he can only toss up a few Kickshaws without Taste or Substance. -  The Courantiers are a sort of Suttlers, who follow the Camp, and keep a dirty Cook's Shop for the worst of Company. We have besides a set of anniversary Writers, kept as a Corps de Reserve, to maintain the Post of Honour, and justify all the remarkable Blunders of the Year. These resemble those extraordinary Cooks, who assist at great Entertainments, for Kings and Personages of high Rank. I, says D'Anvers, must likewise own myself a political Cook, who keep a two penny Ordinary every Saturday for all Comers, and I hope I dress nothing but what is wholesome and agreeable to an English Stomach.
 An Author, like a Cook, ought to have a regular Education, before he sets up for himself; yet as Scullions sometimes profess themselves Cooks, so some commence Authors without learning to spell, or understanding Grammar. -  But this is so tender a Point, that I can't explain, myself without drawing the whole Posse of ministerial Writers on my Back.
A good Cook does not always serve up the fame Things, like Mother Osborne, without Variation, or Propriety. In Summer, Things of light Digestion, and even Whipt Syllabubs and Ice Creams are agreeable; but towards the End of the Year People expect something more substantial, to warm their Blood and keep up their Spirits; and I always endeavour’d to imitate this Rule of Cookery. Pickles and Sauces are allow'd to sharpen the Appetite, and give a Relish to the Meat. But what does that Cook deserve, who uses Jalop, or Assa foetida, and gives the Company a Vomit, instead of quickening their Stomachs, or pleasing their Palates? Such Cooks are like those Authors, who for want of Wit or Humour to season their Writings, endeavour to give a false Gusto, by throwing in Billingsgate and personal Scurrility.
 It's the Privilege of Cooks to lick their own Fingers ; i. e. to get by their Business; Authors have the fame Right: but as a Cook would be hang'd if  he took Money to poison the People; so an Author deserves the same Fate, who endeavours to raise himself out of his Rags and Obscurity, by scribbling away the Liberties of his Country. So, when I see our ministerial Advocates writing about our Constitution, I think of the Old Saying, God sends us Meat, but the Devil sends us Cooks.


4 January 1735
The Gentleman’s Magazine Vol 5: p.7
The Craftsman 444.
Title: "Cooks and Authors compar'd."

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