The Remaining Editions of the Glasgow Cookery Book

Of the remaining editions of the GCB in the Queen’s College records, there are fewer differences in the invalid recipes. Book 16 is the ‘Revised Edition’ from 1973 and is the same as the 1962 edition, while Book 17 is the Centenary Edition from 1975.

In the centenary edition, the ‘Invalid Cookery’ chapter has been renamed so it is now called ‘Light Diets’. There is also a contents page at the beginning of each individual chapter, and this one lists 40 recipes which are slightly different to the ones in the 1962 edition. 

The recipes are still split into ‘Fluid’, ‘Soft’ and ‘Convalescent Diets’, but in the ‘Fluid Diets’ section there are no ‘Stimulating Drinks’ which means the Beef Tea which was previously so important to invalid cookery is missing. Indeed, this is the first time that Beef Tea of some description is totally absent from the GCB, signifying that it had waned from use. By the 1970s, readers would be far more likely to buy a mass-produced beef tea product like Bovril than they would be to prepare it themselves, but it is striking that Beef Tea had no place in this ‘Light Diets’ chapter. 

Some of the recipes throughout this edition are reordered or slightly tweaked, though notably the example diets (which all come at the start of the chapter rather than throughout it) are almost exactly the same as those in the 1962 edition. The recipes that are repeated also remain the same, so while the appearance of the cookbook has changed much of the content remains the same regardless of the new ‘Light’ title. Despite listing forty recipes in the contents page, however, this chapter is condensed in comparison with the previous editions, covering only nine pages where there were twelve pages of invalid recipes in the 1962 edition. This is because ‘Soft’ and ‘Convalescent’ diets are compressed within the cookbook rather than having their own section. Instructions are thus not repeated, and it is clear from these comparison pictures that the same information from previous editions has just been condensed. Where in the 1962 edition, there were two separate entries on suitable vegetables for each diet, here they have been shortened into one passage that gives all the necessary knowledge in one place: 

                                                            27. VEGETABLES
Soft Diets – Unless these are young and tender, they should be served mashed or puréed. It will be found that carrots, tomatoes, turnips, peas and spinach can be successfully puréed. Potatoes should be creamed or mashed. 

Convalescent Diet –
Any tender vegetable, including heart of lettuce or skinned tomato. (GCB 1975: 443)

The rest of the content remains relatively stable between the 1962 edition and the 1975 one. For instance, the recipes for the Diabetic preserves are still at the end of the chapter, with Sorbitol, Saccharine and Saxin listed as the sugar replacements and the same note about their short shelf-life. By organising the material in this way, however, the ‘Light Diets’ take up less space in the cookbook. Readers can still use this chapter to find relevant recipes throughout the rest of the text, but it is not a prominent section and the associations between cookery and illness are stripped due to the change of the chapter’s title. A reader may see a chapter on ‘Light Diets’ and assume they were for smaller or less calorific meals rather than intended as remedies for the ill. This, the absence of the previously prolific beef tea, and the condensing of information all speaks to the dwindling prominence of invalid cookery. Moving into the second half of the twentieth century, it was clearly not as important to the commercial appearance of the GCB. 

In Conclusion: Changes to the Glasgow Cookery Book

Books 18 through 20 in the records of the Queen’s College are the same centenary edition of the GCB, published in 1975. The final two books in their collection are the centenary edition published in 2009 by Waverley Books. This edition was published to celebrate 100 years of the GCB, and contains an introduction to the cookbook’s history from Carole McCallum. Interestingly, this newest edition contains no invalid recipes at all. As a commemorative edition, this copy is full of practical recipes that are derived from the teachings of the GWSCDS, but the invalid recipes did not make the cut.

The health-oriented roots of the GWSCDS, with its pioneering approach to dietetics and the treatment of ill health through food, is not present in the recipes that are still relevant to readers in the twenty-first century. Though some of us may have foods we return to when we feel ill – chicken soup, hot Ribena, or mashed potato – our diet is not necessarily the first thing we look to change if we are feeling under the weather, and illness is not thought of in terms of ‘soft’, ‘fluid’ or ‘convalescent’ foods. It’s also fair to say that most contemporary cookbooks do not feature sections on invalid recipes.  As such, the invalid recipes that were once considered a cornerstone of culinary education and housewifery get left in the past, as attitudes towards health shift. 

Looking at the differences between early editions and later forms of the GCB shows how even within the same category, food and cooking is an ever evolving concept.  What is perhaps most notable is the continuity of the invalid recipes in the cookbook’s lifespan. While recipes changed in terms of their ordering, ingredients or presentation, there are still strong similarities between what invalid recipes are included in the 1910 edition of the GCB and the 1975 copy. Lemonade, Egg Flip, Barley Water, and just some of the recipes that appear in both these ‘first’ and ‘last’ editions. The continuation of these recipes over so many years and cookbook shows just how lasting the initial teachings at the GWSCDS were: the recipes concocted and taught by the women there would continue to have relevance for over fifty years, and given how popular the cookbook was, even beyond that as they are reused by readers again and again. 

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