100 books like Food in the Civil War Era

By Helen Zoe Veit,

Here are 100 books that Food in the Civil War Era fans have personally recommended if you like Food in the Civil War Era. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Young Housekeeper's Friend; Or, A Guide to Domestic Economy and Comfort

Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada Author Of The Little Women Cookbook: Novel Takes on Classic Recipes from Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy and Friends

From my list on food and cooking in Victorian America.

Who are we?

Miko and Jenne are librarians who love to eat. Their love of classic children’s literature led them to start their 36 Eggs blog, where they recreate foods and experiences from their favorite books. In 2019, they published the Little Women Cookbook, which required extensive research into the food of the Victorian era.

Jenne's book list on food and cooking in Victorian America

Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada Why did Jenne love this book?

We consulted a wide variety of historical cookbooks while writing our book, but one in particular stands out: The Young Housekeeper’s Friend (or as we affectionately call it, YHF), first published in 1846. It is actually mentioned by name more than once in Little Women, so it became our first point of reference for the recipes we wanted to include. YHF was quite popular in its day, and went through several editions–with good reason, as we discovered. Of all the cookbooks we used in our research, the recipes in this one were always the tastiest and most reliable.

Even though by modern standards the recipes are rather vague, she actually gave quite a bit more instruction than other cookbooks of the era, and many of the chapters include an introduction that goes into more detail about the overall theory of how to cook that particular type of food. During the…

By Mary Hooker Cornelius,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Young Housekeeper's Friend; Or, A Guide to Domestic Economy and Comfort as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Book cover of Victorian Cakes: A Reminiscence With Recipes

Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada Author Of The Little Women Cookbook: Novel Takes on Classic Recipes from Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy and Friends

From my list on food and cooking in Victorian America.

Who are we?

Miko and Jenne are librarians who love to eat. Their love of classic children’s literature led them to start their 36 Eggs blog, where they recreate foods and experiences from their favorite books. In 2019, they published the Little Women Cookbook, which required extensive research into the food of the Victorian era.

Jenne's book list on food and cooking in Victorian America

Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada Why did Jenne love this book?

This delightful memoir/cookbook of a girl and her sisters growing up near Chicago in the late 1800s gives us a glimpse of what kinds of things a middle-class family ate--there were trendy foods back then, just like we have now!

What’s it like? Just imagine if you took all your favorite 19th-century children's books, mashed them all together, and edited out everything except talking about cake. Oh and maybe keep in a few things about fancy outfits and picnics.

By Caroline B. King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Victorian Cakes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author recalls her Victorian childhood and shares popular recipes from the 1880s for cakes, doughnuts, pastries, buns, cookies, and desserts


Book cover of A Domestic Cook Book: Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen

Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada Author Of The Little Women Cookbook: Novel Takes on Classic Recipes from Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy and Friends

From my list on food and cooking in Victorian America.

Who are we?

Miko and Jenne are librarians who love to eat. Their love of classic children’s literature led them to start their 36 Eggs blog, where they recreate foods and experiences from their favorite books. In 2019, they published the Little Women Cookbook, which required extensive research into the food of the Victorian era.

Jenne's book list on food and cooking in Victorian America

Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada Why did Jenne love this book?

Until 2000, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking (1881) was considered the first cookbook authored by a Black American. It was then that historians chanced upon an incredibly lucky finding: a copy of A Domestic Cookbook at the bottom of a box. As far as we know, there’s only ONE copy left of this little 39-page collection of recipes, which was first published in 1866.

Historians and researchers have delved deep into the mystery of author Malinda Russell, but we barely know more than she tells us in her introduction -- a life story laid out in stark, gripping first-person over just two short pages. As a business owner who specialized in pastry, Russell’s book has upended assumptions about 19th-century Black women and African American cuisine. In such a slim volume, she still includes 70+ kinds of cake and comments that “a great many ladies have wished to…

By Malinda Russell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Domestic Cook Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

{Size: 15.34 x 23.59 cms} Leather Binding on Spine and Corners with Golden Leaf Printing on round Spine (extra customization on request like complete leather, Golden Screen printing in Front, Color Leather, Colored book etc.) Reprinted in 2021 with the help of original edition published long back [1866]. This book is printed in black & white, sewing binding for longer life, Printed on high quality Paper, re-sized as per Current standards, professionally processed without changing its contents. As these are old books, we processed each page manually and make them readable but in some cases some pages which are blur…


Book cover of Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America

Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada Author Of The Little Women Cookbook: Novel Takes on Classic Recipes from Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy and Friends

From my list on food and cooking in Victorian America.

Who are we?

Miko and Jenne are librarians who love to eat. Their love of classic children’s literature led them to start their 36 Eggs blog, where they recreate foods and experiences from their favorite books. In 2019, they published the Little Women Cookbook, which required extensive research into the food of the Victorian era.

Jenne's book list on food and cooking in Victorian America

Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada Why did Jenne love this book?

If you strive to be a Victorian-era food snob, this is the guidebook. It’s a comprehensive overview of food and cooking customs from the second half of the 19th century, packed with illustrations and tons of fun trivia. (For example: celery was considered a high-status food by the middle class because of its connection to Homer’s Odyssey. If you were looking for a trendy centerpiece, you could put it in specially appointed silver or glass vases like a bouquet of flowers. Haha!) You’ll also find an explanation of mealtimes, and how expectations for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, and supper were different from today’s. There’s a whole chapter on Victorian table etiquette! By the way, Victorians advise that if you’re hosting a dinner party, make sure to wear an outfit that’s “rich in material, but subdued in tone” so you don’t show up any of your guests.

By Susan Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts offers a delightfully flavorful tour of dining in America during the second half of the 19th century. Susan Williams investigates the manners and morals of that era by looking at its eating customs and cooking methods. As she reveals, genteel dining became an increasingly important means of achieving social stability during a period when Americans were facing significant changes on a variety of fronts - social, cultural, intellectual, technological, and demographic.

Focusing on the rapidly expanding middle class, Williams not only examines mealtime rituals, but she looks at the material culture of Victorian dining: the…


Book cover of The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South

Charles Reagan Wilson Author Of The Southern Way of Life: Meanings of Culture and Civilization in the American South

From my list on savoring Southern foods.

Who am I?

I'm a retired professor who wrote about and taught about the American South for almost four decades. I directed a research center focused on the South, and I helped found an institute dedicated to the study of Southern food. The South’s creative traditions in music and literature are well known, and its foodways are now recognized as a distinct American cuisine that represents the region’s innovations in culture. Through reading about southern food, readers can explore the traditions of eating and cooking in the region, and the creative contributions of ethnic groups with national and global sources. I've chosen books that give flavor to thinking about the South as a distinct place in the imagination.

Charles' book list on savoring Southern foods

Charles Reagan Wilson Why did Charles love this book?

This book is a people’s history of the modern south, told through what people in the region have cooked and eaten. 

Edge is my former student who became the founding director of the Southern Food Alliance and the author of more than a dozen books on food.

He tells a story of what the modern South inherited in terms of cooking ingredients, techniques, and traditions, and he shows the central role that cooks and waiters served in the civil rights movement. He is particularly adept at sketching profiles of southern food leaders from Paul Prudhomme to Colonel Sanders.

The book is perhaps best in showing the changes in the southern food scene over the last three centuries so that now southern food has become a shared culinary language for the nation.   

By John T. Edge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Potlikker Papers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“The one food book you must read this year."
—Southern Living 

One of Christopher Kimball’s Six Favorite Books About Food

A people’s history that reveals how Southerners shaped American culinary identity and how race relations impacted Southern food culture over six revolutionary decades

Like great provincial dishes around the world, potlikker is a salvage food. During the antebellum era, slave owners ate the greens from the pot and set aside the leftover potlikker broth for the enslaved, unaware that the broth, not the greens, was nutrient rich. After slavery, potlikker sustained the working poor, both black and white. In the…


Book cover of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Elijah Douresseau Author Of The Long Takeout: Short Stories for the Hungry Sojourner

From my list on food fiction to inspire eating and reading.

Who am I?

Food has always been my existential retreat from the world. Whether eating solo or with people, countless meals have been the best hyperbolic time chambers for strengthening relationships with others and with myself. And I’ve always wanted to write, to participate in ageless forums of subject and technique in this great literary tradition of ours. I guess these two art forms and obsessions were bound to lock horns in my aesthetic makeup. In my world, good reading is good eating. It’s that simple. No other qualifications are needed. I inhaled the following books and was made full every time – to eventually take a stab at a couple of recipes also.

Elijah's book list on food fiction to inspire eating and reading

Elijah Douresseau Why did Elijah love this book?

There is a reason my book starts with a quote from this very book. It’s the collection’s rallying cry!

Twitty took me on such a journey of history and identity through food. The deeply historical and regional cooking and agricultural methods of the enslaved detailed in this work were the intersections and the canvas for revisiting historical timelines.

This is a nonfiction book, but it embodied my aspirations for making food in literature a forefront topic. I’ve never done any serious ancestry profile surveys, but this may be my favorite version – as a child of Jamaican immigrants wholly descended from the African/slave diaspora. A food writing master class.

By Michael W. Twitty,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Cooking Gene as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year | 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner inWriting | Nominee for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction | #75 on The Root100 2018

A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who "owns" it is one of the most provocative touch points in our…


Book cover of Much Depends on Dinner

Jenny Linford Author Of The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour

From my list on that help us explore the world.

Who am I?

I am a food writer who has long been interested in seeing food in its cultural, historical, and social context. Food is too often put in a neat little box, whereas actually it offers a fascinating prism through which to explore the world. Researching and writing The Missing Ingredient – in which I explore the role of time as the universal, invisible ‘ingredient’ in the food we grow, make, and cook brought this home to me.

Jenny's book list on that help us explore the world

Jenny Linford Why did Jenny love this book?

This wonderful, engaging book will change the way you think about food. Margaret Visser unpicks an “ordinary meal” in North America, digging beneath the surface of everyday ingredients such as butter, lettuce and chicken to reveal fascinating stories. Visser – who writes with a shrewd and perceptive intelligence - weaves together history, science and social observation to great effect. The ‘ordinary’ meal proves to be no such thing.

By Margaret Visser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Much Depends on Dinner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An excursion into the origins and background of an ordinary dinner: corn on the cob, chicken with rice, lettuce salad and ice-cream. Tracing the historical, cultural, agricultural and social strands that run through their history, the author presents the reader with an "anthropology of everyday life". This book was the winner of the 1990 Glenfiddich Award for the Food Book of the Year. The author also wrote "The Rituals of Dinner".


Book cover of The Culture of Food

Carolyn Steel Author Of Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World

From my list on how food shapes our lives.

Who am I?

Food and architecture have been dual passions in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandparents had a hotel in Bournemouth, and I can still recall my fascination with the way everything changed as I passed through the green baize doors between the service areas and the public rooms. I became an architect, but food was always there in the background, and much later, I realised how I could bring the two together in order to describe the world in a completely new way. This led to my first book, Hungry City, and its follow-up Sitopia, both of which have changed the way I see the world. 

Carolyn's book list on how food shapes our lives

Carolyn Steel Why did Carolyn love this book?

This was the first book I read when I started researching my first book, and it turned out to be a very lucky choice, since it opened my eyes more than any other book to the power of food to shape our cultures and customs and ways of seeing the world.

It describes in fascinating detail how European food cultures developed according to landscape and climate, and how various differences – such as the Mediterranean propensity to eat lots of vegetables and drink wine in moderation, compared with the northern tendency to eat lots of meat and get drunk on beer or spirits – not only endure today, but continue to shape the way we live, behave and see ourselves and others. 

By Massimo Montanari,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Culture of Food as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is about the history of food in Europe and the part it has played in the evolution of the European cultures over two millennia. It has been a driving force in national and imperial ambition, the manner of its production and consumption a means by which the identity and status of regions, classes and individuals have been and still are expressed. In this wide--ranging exploration of its history the author weaves deftly between the classes, regions and nations of Europe, between the habits of late antiquity and the problems of modernity. He examines the interlinked evolutions of consumption,…


Book cover of The Oxford Companion to Food

Jenny Linford Author Of The Missing Ingredient: The Curious Role of Time in Food and Flavour

From my list on that help us explore the world.

Who am I?

I am a food writer who has long been interested in seeing food in its cultural, historical, and social context. Food is too often put in a neat little box, whereas actually it offers a fascinating prism through which to explore the world. Researching and writing The Missing Ingredient – in which I explore the role of time as the universal, invisible ‘ingredient’ in the food we grow, make, and cook brought this home to me.

Jenny's book list on that help us explore the world

Jenny Linford Why did Jenny love this book?

With entries on foods from Aardvark to Zucchini, this wonderful, wide-ranging reference book has a place of honour by my desk. The idea of a global guide to foodstuffs was conceived of by Alan Davidson in 1976 – before the digital age – and first published in 1999. Davidson, who edited it, brought his intellectual curiosity, knowledge, and humour to the project. The result is a seminal reference book which instead of being dull or stodgy is lively, engaging, and interesting. A book that I never tire of using, as always come across something that catches my attention in the most beguiling way.

By Alan Davidson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Companion to Food as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

the best food reference work ever to appear in the English language ... read it and be dazzled'
Bee Wilson, New Statesman

First published in 1999, the ground-breaking Oxford Companion to Food was an immediate success and won prizes and accolades around the world. Its blend of serious food history, culinary expertise, and entertaining serendipity, was and remains unique.

Interest in food, cooking, and the culture surrounding food has grown enormously in the intervening period, as has the study of food and food history. University departments, international societies, and academic journals have sprung up dedicated to exploring the meaning of…


Book cover of Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History

Troy Bickham Author Of Eating the Empire: Food and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain

From my list on food and empires in history.

Who am I?

I am a Professor of History at Texas A&M University and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.  I teach and research broadly in the histories of Britain and its empire, North America, and the Atlantic world. I am the author of four books, including Making Headlines: The American Revolution as Seen through the British Press and The Weight of Vengeance: The United States, the British Empire, and the War of 1812. I am especially fascinated with how imperialism shape colonizers’ cultures.

Troy's book list on food and empires in history

Troy Bickham Why did Troy love this book?

I love this book primarily for the ambitiousness of its breadth. It begins thousands of years ago with the role of early grain domestication in empire-building and stretches to the roles of modern cuisines in global trade, industry, and capitalism. Although a whirlwind of peoples and places from across human history, this beautifully written and illustrated book is easy for any reader interested in the subject to digest. 

By Rachel Laudan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cuisine and Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rachel Laudan tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of the world's great cuisines from the mastery of grain cooking some twenty thousand years ago, to the present in this superbly researched book.

Probing beneath the apparent confusion of dozens of cuisines to reveal the underlying simplicity of the culinary family tree, she shows how periodic seismic shifts in culinary philosophy" beliefs about health, the economy, politics, society, and the gods prompted the construction of new cuisines, a handful of which, chosen as the cuisines of empires, came to dominate the globe.

Cuisine and Empire shows how merchants,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in American cuisine, the American Civil War, and Victorian?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about American cuisine, the American Civil War, and Victorian.

American Cuisine Explore 22 books about American cuisine
The American Civil War Explore 284 books about the American Civil War
Victorian Explore 146 books about Victorian