Today’s Google Doodle celebrates what would have been the 310th birthday of Hannah Glasse, who penned what may have been the world’s first viral cookbook, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, and was dubbed the “mother of the modern dinner party.”
Born in 1708 as the illegitimate daughter of a London landowner, Glasse was a housewife-turned-dressmaker, but it was her recipes for English staples like Yorkshire pudding and not her stitching that earned her acclaim.
The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy indexed 972 recipes, from cheesecake, to roasted hare to cures for wayward sea captains. Published anonymously in 1747, the book reportedly remained a bestseller for more than 100 years. But historians have claimed that Glasse ruthlessly plagiarized her recipes, lifting as many as 263 dishes from a single earlier source.
While she may not have invented her gravies, sauces and fricassees, Glasse pioneered a direct and conversational style in presenting her manual, which she intended as an instructive guide to “improve the servants and save the ladies a great deal of trouble.”
Eschewing extravagant “French tricks” popular in many kitchens at the time, Glasse focused on transcribing British foods, including one of the earliest published recipes for Yorkshire pudding. She also included one of the first British recipe’s for Indian curry, catering to the changing tastes of Brits returning from overseas.
Despite the popularity of her recipe book, Glasse declared bankruptcy seven years after its publication and was forced to auction the copyright. She was reportedly consigned to a debtors prison for several months in 1757.
Glasse penned two other works, including The Compleat Confectioner, but they did not attain the popularity of her first book. Glasse died in London 1770 at the age of 62.
Google’s Doodle depicts Glasse preparing a batch of Yorkshire Puddings, with her cookbook handy.