5 things to know about Hannah Glasse, featured in today’s Google Doodle

Hannah Glasse — featured in today's Google Doodle — is the author of The Art of Cookery, and The Bancroft Library holds a sixth-edition copy. (Google)
Hannah Glasse — featured in today's Google Doodle — is the author of The Art of Cookery, and The Bancroft Library holds a sixth-edition copy. (Google)

Who is in today’s Google’s Doodle?

Long before the rise of Food Network stars such as Rachael Ray or chef-bro Guy Fieri — heck, centuries before the The Joy of Cooking became a household staple — there was Hannah Glasse.

Glasse was born in 1708 — 310 years ago today. An English cookery writer, she was most well-known for the best-selling The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy. The Bancroft Library has a sixth-edition copy of the volume, published in 1758. The full title is long — like, Fiona-Apple-album-name long: The art of cookery, made plain and easy; which far exceeds any thing of the kind yet published ... To which are added, by way of appendix, one hundred and fifty new and useful receipts, and a copious index to this and all the octavo editions. Never before published. By a lady. (Yes, that last part is actually in the title.)

We took a look at the historic volume (also available in digital form) and read about Glasse’s life. Here are just a few of the things we learned.

1. Serving the servants.

In her note to readers in The Art of Cookery, she said she used plain, simple language so servants could understand the recipes. (“I have not wrote in the high polite style, I hope I shall be forgiven; for my intention is to instruct the lower sort, and therefore must treat them in their own way.”) Turns out Anthony Bourdain and his ilk were not the first to eschew snobbery in the way they address their audience, embracing a more conversational tone, long after Glasse had done just that.

2. Hedgehog, anyone?

Many of the recipes seem suited for modern palates (baked fish, cheesecakes, gravy, rice pudding), but we scratched our heads at such recipes as plague water (apparently a tonic made of more than 50 roots, flowers, and seeds), as well as hedgehog. As it turns out, no actual hedgehogs are harmed in the making of that recipe: It is a dish made of almond dough that resembles the spiky pint-sized creature, complete with blanched almonds serving as “bristles” and currants for eyes.

3. Hard times.

Sadly, despite The Art of Cookery’s status as a best-seller, Glasse fell upon hard financial times. She declared bankruptcy seven years after it was published and auctioned off the copyright to her famous book. She was even reportedly consigned to debtors prison, long before Martha Stewart was a glint in the Department of Justice’s eyes. 

4. Back off, haters.

After The Art of Cookery was released, rumors swirled that the book was actually written by a man, since many people apparently were incredulous that a woman could write with such eloquence. Writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, who was featured in a Google Doodle last year, even purportedly said, at a party, “Women can spin very well; but they cannot make a good book of cookery.”

5. Best dishes.

As referenced in the Google Doodle, Glasse is closely associated with Yorkshire pudding, and she is responsible for what is believed to be one of the earliest published recipes for the dish

Side note: The cooking instruction “First catch your hare” is sometimes attributed to Glasse. As much as we’d like it to be true, it is — like the myth of Julia Child dropping a turkey on the floor during her show — sadly, the stuff of foodie fiction.