Today's Community Cookbooks: 200 Years of Charleston Cooking By Blanche H. Rhett, Lettie Gay, and Helen Woodward (Copyright 1930. Printed by Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith, Inc., New York, NY)
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Carlye Jane Dougherty, owner of Charleston’s Heirloom Book Co., kindly let us borrow her first-edition 83-year-old copy to use for research as we put together “Spiral-bound South” for our July issue. A Charleston grande dame compiled the recipes from other prominent families on the peninsula and shipped them north to be tested in the New York Herald-Tribune Institute’s test kitchen. The result: a seminal cookbook that paints a detailed portrait of how the well heeled ate during the early 20th century, about two decades before the arrival of the more egalitarian Charleston Receipts. We love the book’s historical notes, its photos of Charleston vendors, especially Ralph Bennett, aka Honey Man, and the amount of ink dedicated to the town’s generous way with shrimp, crabs, and fish. Too bad this one’s out of print —vintage cookbook sellers list it as high as $800. Carlye, may we hang on to your copy a little longer?
Don’t forget to send us a photo of your favorite community cookbook for a chance to win a collection of vintage cookbooks!