American women were expected to focus on caring for their homes and families in the Federal period. Because cooking was a major part of their responsibilities, women led the way in inventing and defining American cuisine.
A cuisine is a style of cooking that is unique to a country or region. Inventing cuisine that was different from the colonial period was an important part of creating a new American identity.
The cookbook American Cookery was first published in 1796, 20 years after the colonies declared their independence. It was published as part of a larger movement to form an American identity. It was a bestseller for about 30 years.
American Cookery was written by Amelia Simmons, an orphan who found work as a domestic servant. She spent many years learning how to cook and manage a kitchen. She wrote the cookbook to share her knowledge. The book includes not only recipes but also helpful advice on selecting the best meat and produce. American Cookery was unique at the time because it included fancy British recipes alongside recipes made with ingredients and techniques unique to the Americas.
American Cookery made some important contributions to American cuisine and culture. For example, the book included the first usage of the word cookie instead of the traditional British word biscuit. It was also the first cookbook to include recipes for American classics like pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and slapjacks. American Cookery offers a unique mix of old-world customs and new-world creativity. This combination would become a hallmark of American cuisine for decades to come.