Cakes & Ale by Edward Spencer

Cakes & Ale

byEdward Spencer

Kobo ebook | July 24, 2013

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Author Preface:

A long time ago, an estimable lady fell at the feet of an habitual publisher, and prayed unto him:—
“Give, oh! give me the subject of a book for which the world has a need, and I will write it for you.”
“Are you an author, madam?” asked the publisher, motioning his visitor to a seat.
“No, sir,” was the proud reply, “I am a poet.”
“Ah!” said the great man. “I am afraid there is no immediate worldly need of a poet. If you could only write a good cookery book, now!”
The story goes on to relate how the poetess, not rebuffed in the least, started on the requisite culinary work, directly she got home; pawned her jewels to purchase postage stamps, and wrote far and wide for recipes, which in course of time she obtained, by the hundredweight. Other recipes she “conveyed” from ancient works of gastronomy, and in a year or two the magnum opus was given to the world; the lady’s share in the[Pg x] profits giving her “adequate provision for the remainder of her life.” We are not told, but it is presumable, that the publisher received a little adequate provision too.
History occasionally repeats itself; and the history of the present work begins in very much the same way. Whether it will finish in an equally satisfactory manner is problematical. I do not possess much of the divine afflatus myself; but there has ever lurked within me some sort of ambition to write a book—something held together by “tree calf,” “half morocco,” or “boards”; something that might find its way into the hearts and homes of an enlightened public; something which will give some of my young friends ample opportunity for criticism. In the exercise of my profession I have written leagues of descriptive “copy”—mostly lies and racing selections,—but up to now there has been no urgent demand for a book of any sort from this pen. For years my ambition has remained ungratified. Publishers—as a rule, the most faint-hearted and least speculative of mankind—have held aloof. And whatever suggestions I might make were rejected, with determination, if not with contumely.
At length came the hour, and the man; the introduction to a publisher with an eye for budding and hitherto misdirected talent.
“Do you care, sir,” I inquired at the outset,[Pg xi] “to undertake the dissemination of a bulky work on Political Economy?”
“Frankly, sir, I do not,” was the reply. Then I tried him with various subjects—social reform, the drama, bimetallism, the ethics of starting prices, the advantages of motor cars in African warfare, natural history, the martyrdom of Ananias, practical horticulture, military law, and dogs; until he took down an old duck-gun from a peg over the mantelpiece, and assumed a threatening attitude.
Peace having been restored, the self-repetition of history recommenced.
“I can do with a good, bold, brilliant, lightly treated, exhaustive work on Gastronomy,” said the publisher, “you are well acquainted with the subject, I believe?”
“I’m a bit of a parlour cook, if that’s what you mean,” was my humble reply. “At a salad, a grill, an anchovy toast, or a cooling and cunningly compounded cup, I can be underwritten at ordinary rates. But I could no more cook a haunch of venison, or even boil a rabbit, or make an economical Christmas pudding, than I could sail a boat in a nor’-easter; and Madam Cook would certainly eject me from her kitchen, with a clout attached to the hem of my dinner jacket, inside five minutes.”
Eventually it was decided that I should commence this book.
“What I want,” said the publisher, “is a series of essays on food, a few anecdotes of stirring adventure—you have a fine flow of imagination, I understand—and a few useful, but uncommon recipes. But plenty of plums in the book, my dear sir, plenty of plums.”
“But, suppose my own supply of plums should not hold out, what am I to do?”

Title:Cakes & AleFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:July 24, 2013Publisher:Lost Leaf PublicationsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title: