Friday, June 14, 2024

The Gilded Age Cookbook: A Review

From time to time, publishers offer me the opportunity to review new cookbooks. The Gilded Age Cookbook, by Becky Libourel Diamond, was sent to me in February. Due to my extensive traveling schedule, I am just getting around to the review.

Curiously, when I looked at the author's bio on Amazon, I noticed that Becky Diamond lives Yardley, Pennsylvania which is the same very small town where I have resided for the past 35 years (excluding our snowbird winter months in Florida since retirement). 


Her bio on Amazon: 

"Becky Libourel Diamond is a food writer, librarian, and research historian. She has been writing about food since 2008, parlaying her passion for food and history into the publication of The Thousand Dollar Dinner and Mrs. Goodfellow: The Story of America's First Cooking School. She lives in Yardley, Pennsylvania."
Cookbooks often serve as portals to different eras, cultures, and flavors. The Gilded Age Cookbook is one such treasure that takes us into the lavish world of late 19th-century America and to the culinary delights that frequented the tables of the wealthy elite during this fascinating period in American history.

The recipes span a wide variety of dishes suitable for every occasion,  modernized for today's kitchen. The recipes reflect the dishes served at extravagant dinner parties, ladies luncheons, afternoon teas, Gilded Age beach clambakes, and Gilded Age formal balls. 

Becky Libourel Diamond
Becky Libourel Diamond 

The most unusual recipe I viewed was for Rabbit, Hunter Style. Thankfully, the actual recipe was re-created by a Philadelphia chef to make it suitable for today's cooks. Another more unusual recipe was for Lobster Fricassee

The more recognizable recipes included lobster salad, Waldorf salad, strawberry shortcake, chocolate cake, chicken croquettes, steamed halibut with egg sauce, cornmeal potato muffins etc.

I made a tasty cucumber salad recipe titled,  Dutch Cucumbers which was a family recipe passed down by the author's grandmother from that era which began in the early 1870's. The author refers to it as "a tangy salad with a hint of sweetness." We enjoyed it!

What truly sets "The Gilded Age Cookbook" apart is its attention to detail. Each recipe is accompanied by historical anecdotes, historical photos, and insights, providing information that enriches ones culinary experience. 

Although the book has an extensive bibliography, it lacks a recipe index which would make it easier to find the recipes. Beautiful photos of the recipes and historical photos are plentiful and colorful. The recipe directions are well written, easy to follow, and the recipes look fairly easy to make.

A beautifully designed and well written book, The Gilded Age Cookbook would be a joy for anyone interested in food, food history,  and the particulars of the exciting Gilded Age of America! 

More About the Author

Becky Libourel Diamond is a food writer, librarian and research historian who specializes in reconstructing historical recipes. She has collaborated with several chefs and food groups to recreate historic dinners, including Marc Vetri’s Osteria restaurant in Philadelphia, Chef Adam Diltz of Elwood Restaurant in Philadelphia, COOK (a demonstration kitchen in Philadelphia) and Edible History Supper Club in New York City.  

Sharing on: The Sunday Salon 

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  1. Rabbit, Hunter Style, Lobster Fricassee...I would totally love them! Thanks for the honest and respectful review, Judee.

  2. I love how new cookbooks have so much more information than just recipes. I like the personal comments, a bit of history, etc. This sounds like a good one. Great review!

  3. Now THIS sounds like a cookbook that I would thoroughly enjoy! One of my favorite books and movies in the whole world is The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, who wrote extensively about the Gilded Age, specifically the "four hundred" society families in what we now call Old New York. The lifestyle is meticulously written, so much so that you can almost feel what it was like to be there! The dresses, the flowers, the china, the crystal, the silver, the food! So this sounds like an amazing feat and WOW the author lives in your town! I hope she gets to meet you! xoxo

  4. This cookbook sounds delightful. I usually cook by feel and taste without elaborate recipes, as I've been cooking for over 40 years. I still have the red and white Better Homes and Garden cookbook. : )


  5. I rarely read cookbooks but I find this one interesting from your review.

  6. Sounds wonderful. What a crazy coincidence that you both live in the same town. My great aunt and uncle live in Langhorne not to far from there.

  7. Historical cookbooks (like the one you reviewed) that update the recipes are useful if you really want to recreate the flavors in a modern kitchen, but for just reading I like to go to the originals, which are often available in facsimile or e-book versions. That’s when you really see what it was like!
    best, mae at

  8. This cookbook sounds delightful. The Gilded Age was a fascinating time. I'd especially like to try the cucumber salad recipe. Thank you for sharing this cookbook with all of us. I hope you get a chance to meet the author in person around town one of these days.

  9. There is something so fascinating about vintage cookbooks. Some, clearly written for the privileged; some that now would be considered racist at worst, politically incorrect at best; but always a look into the past. This one sounds quite delightful and it's a period that intrigues me. Thanks for sharing about this one.


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