Monday, March 1, 2021 Smile of the Day: Cooking Schools

On this Day:

In 1784, Edward Kidder, a London pie-maker opened the 1st formal cooking school, in London, Great Britain.

Edward Kidder (1665/66–1739) was a British 18th century pastry chef, or, as he called himself, “pastry-master,” who worked in the Cheapside section of London.

Kidder is remembered for his cookbook of Receipts of Pastry and Cookery For the Use of his Scholars. The book was printed using engraved copper plates in contrast to most books of the time which used moveable types. The frontispiece showed a portrait of Kidder in a full wig and period attire (per Wikipedia).

Cooking knowledge has been passed down through the ages since the first hungry human thought to grill a hunk of meat over a campfire. From mother to daughter, master to servant, or chef to apprentice, skills are mastered and then continually refined by the next generation. These days, many home and professional cooks get their knowledge from culinary schools. Whether it’s a small gathering in the back section of a cooking store, or a gleaming stainless steel kitchen full of chefs in their whites, cooking schools serve the important purpose of codifying and organizing years of culinary knowledge for eager students.

The transition from an informal style of passing down culinary knowledge to a formal school setting was gradual. For the most part, recipes weren’t even written down until the Middle Ages: before then, we have to rely on hints of recipes in random scraps of poetry, diaries and manuscripts. The first true cookbook was published in 1379, in France, by Taillevent, the master chef for King Charles V. The first pastry recipe in English comes even later in 1545. The recipes in these books are more guidelines than anything else. They presume their readers are already familiar with kitchen basics, and it’s not unusual for even elaborate recipes to end with the phrase “then cook it,” without any guidance as to how long or at what temperature.

Into this scene walked pastry chef Edward Kidder. In the late 1600s Kidder opened his first pie shop in the Cheapside neighborhood of London. Soon he was known throughout the city for his delicious pastries, from rich lamb pies to savory chicken to sweet custard tarts. He eventually opened a second location, and by all accounts was a highly successful businessman when he began to demonstrate his pie making techniques for wealthy ladies. Pie classes gave way to a whole slate of offerings, from jelly making to vegetable preserving.

In 1739 Kidder published his own cookbook, called The Receipts of Pastry and Cookery. It was probably conceived as a companion piece to his classes, and either sold or given to his students. By that time Kidder was 73 years old, but according to his book he still “teacheth at his School” six days a week. Unfortunately, Kidder died soon after the book was published, but a glowing obituary claimed that he taught “6,000 ladies” the culinary arts. The classes were not cheap, and Kidder seemingly died a rich man, leaving his wife and children a diamond ring and gold watch in his will, among other expensive keepsakes. Today that book is all that remains of Kidder’s culinary legacy, but cooking schools across the world owe a debt to his long-ago pie making classes (per History.com).

Kidder died in 1739 at age 73.

First, a Story:

At an Australian cooking school, the students were disapproving of the head chef preparing meringue. I was utterly shocked to learn that Australians boo meringue!

Second, a Song:

“Hey, Good Lookin'” is a 1951 song written and recorded by Hank Williams, and his version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2003, CMT voted the Hank Williams version #19 on CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music. Since its original 1951 recording it has been covered by a variety of artists.

The Hank Williams song “borrowed heavily” from the 1942 song with the same title written by Cole Porter. The lyrics for the Williams version begin as a come on using double entendres related to food preparation (“How’s about cookin’ somethin’ up with me?”). By the third and fourth verses, the singer is promising the object of his affection that they can become an exclusive couple (“How’s about keepin’ steady company?” and “I’m gonna throw my date book over the fence”).

Williams was friendly with musician Jimmy Dickens. Having told Dickens that Dickens needed a hit record if he was going to become a star, Williams said he’d write it, and penned “Hey Good Lookin'” in only 20 minutes while on a plane with Dickens, Minnie Pearl, and Pearl’s husband Henry Cannon. A week later Williams recorded it himself, jokingly telling Dickens, “That song’s too good for you!”

“Hey, Good Lookin'” was recorded on March 16, 1951, at Castle Studio in Nashville. The same session also produced the single’s B-side “My Heart Would Know” as well as another pair of tunes that would be released as singles: “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You)” and “Howlin’ at the Moon”, released on April 27, 1951. The “Hey, Good Lookin'” single would follow on June 22. Williams was backed on the session by members of his Drifting Cowboys band, including Jerry Rivers (fiddle), Don Helms (steel guitar), Sammy Pruett (electric guitar), Jack Shook (rhythm guitar), Ernie Newton or “Cedric Rainwater”, aka Howard Watts (bass), and either Owen Bradley or producer Fred Rose on piano. As author Colin Escott observes, “On one level, it seemed to point toward rock ‘n’ roll (hot rods, dancing sprees, goin’ steady, and soda pop), but the rhythm plodded along with a steppity-step piano, and Hank sounded almost dour.”

Williams performed the song on the Kate Smith Evening Hour on March 26, 1952; the appearance remains one of the few existing film clips of the singer performing live. He is introduced by Roy Acuff and banters with a young June Carter. He is wearing his famous white cowboy suit adorned in musical notes. He performed “Hey, Good Lookin'” and joined in with the rest of the cast singing his own “I Saw The Light”. The rare clip displays the singer’s exuberance on stage while performing an up-tempo number, and he appears at ease in the relatively new broadcast medium of television. The kinescope from this show would provide the footage for the Hank Williams Jr. video “There’s A Tear In My Beer” some 37 years later.

Here is Hank Williams in his white cowboy suit performing “Hey Good Lookin”.  I hope you enjoy this!

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjCoKslQOEs)

Thought for the Day:

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” – Harriet Van Horne

Cheers!

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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