The whole Body of Cookery Dissected (1682)


ISBN-10 1-903018-11-0
ISBN-13 978-1-903018-11-8

Published Mar 2003

389 pages; 138×216 mm; hardback



William Rabisha

The whole Body of Cookery Dissected (1682)

The restoration of King Charles II in 1660 saw many chefs and servants of the returning nobility back at their stoves cooking as if the Civil War had never occurred. William Rabisha was ‘Master Cook to many honourable Families before and since the wars began’; ‘His Broths, Pottages, to the taste and sight, would Esau-like, make some to sell their right.’ Although little is known about his life and career, he was evidently brought up in the service of a noble household, which ‘spared no cost or charge’ in his instruction and education. He left Britain during the Commonwealth and evidently worked at the Royal court while it was in exile.

His cookery book went through five editions and this current volume is a facsimile of the 1682 printing. The text is a remarkable statement of the art of cookery as it was in the 1660s, and proved to be surprisingly influential over a very long period: there are examples of wholesale borrowing from his recipes as late as the middle of the eighteenth century. Of course, he himself was not innocent of light-fingered loans from earlier authors as well as using his book for conservative, revivalist ends. Hence his recycling of a treatise on carving that started its life in the fifteenth century, and his printing of an order of feasting from that same period. All this was so ‘that thou maist see what Liberality and Hospitality there was in Antient times amongst our Progenitors: Thus hoping to see Liberality flourish amongst us once more, as in old time’. The modern cook will find plenty to amuse, from making a ‘broth or pottage called skink’, trotter pie, a quince cream, a lamprey eel pie, or how to fry primrose leaves with eggs.

Sample pages as a PDF.