Hornsby House Cookbook
Marian Hornsby Bowditch, the unforgettable mother of the unforgettable John Bowditch, a classmate of mine at The Citadel, wrote one of the most remarkable cookbooks I have in my possession. The entire book is written in Mrs. Bowditch’s own handwriting. The recipes are free ranging, eclectic, and brilliant. She wrote the book and dedicated it to her “four traveling gourmet sons who have called me collect from all parts of the country for recipes.” It is a book of consummate genius. Every recipe seems complete and perfect unto itself – you cannot think of a single ingredient to add or subtract. The recipes were years in the composing and I have no doubt that Mrs. Bowditch is one of the finest chefs in this country. Her cookbook, From the Kitchen at Hornsby House in Yorktown, Virginia, is as much a treasure in its own way as Charleston Receipts or the early James Beard. As willful and opinionated as Escoffier himself, Mrs. Bowditch dispenses advice and precise instructions. Does she have tips? This larger-than-life woman brims over with personality, and conversation is an art form with her. Mrs. Bowditch tells her:
1. Put an oyster shell in the teakettle to prevent its becoming encrusted with lime. (How in God’s name did she come up with this?)
2. Store mushrooms and string beans in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator, not in plastic.