FATTIG MANS WISTHUS OCH KÖK. Bifallit och belönt af Kongl. Patriotiska sällskapet med den större skådepenningen i silfwer. Stockholm, Tryckt hos Anders Jac. Nordström,
1796. 8vo, pp. 72; with woodcut printer’s device, and head- and tail-pieces; lightly browned, with some occasional minor spotting and soiling, upper corner of title-page torn with minor loss; in modern sprinkled boards with new endpapers, spine with off-white lettering label titled in gilt; a good copy. Rare first edition of ‘The Poor Man’s Storehouse and Kitchen’, by the noted Swedish gastronomic writer and social campaigner Anna Maria Rückerschöld (1725-1805), and her third work.
Whilst many 18th century cookbooks were celebrations of culinary delights and magnificent feasts, those of Rückerschöld highlighted everyday cooking, each of her four works aimed at a specific target audience. Previous works such as ‘En Liten Hushålls-Bok’ (1785) and ‘Den Nya och Fullständiga Kok-boken’ (1796) were aimed at the middle-classes, and more wealthy households respectively, her focus in the present work was to provide simple and straightforward advice for poorer members of society, such as metropolitan women, and those living in rural farming communities. General advice is given on how to run an efficient and economical household with minimal food supplies, making the best of what little one had. The recipes given are for simpler dishes, several including potatoes, and concluding with a section giving guidance on ‘child-rearing’.
As the title-page and preface reveal, in recognition of her work, Rückerschöld had been awarded a silver Patriotic Society medal. Though from a wealthy family herself, Rückerschöld was clearly something of a reformer with a strong social conscious, and was a champion of the better education of women, especially in their domestic roles. Opposed to gluttony and excess, she was a champion of frugal housekeeping, believing that wives and mothers should keep strict, efficient and economical control of their household and that she should act as a role-model for all. According to Rückerschöld, a well-managed domestic situation, both morally and in practice, was of benefit not only to the family, but to the nation as a whole, and her works are noted for advocating humility, cleanliness, frugality and efficiency. Indeed, she was sometimes at odds with her more illustrious contemporary colleagues such as Carolina Weltzin (1754-1812), and Cajsa Warg (1703-1769), whom Rückerschöld felt, particularly in the case of Warg, were concerned more with the art of cookery than sensible home management. Indeed Rückerschöld, in her work Den Nya och Fullständiga Kok-boken (1796), warned her readers that following the advice of Warg could risk the household's welfare, and was critical of her lavishness.
Rückerschöld was the granddaughter of the Swedish scientist, inventor and industrialist Christopher Polhem (1661-1751). Though she married Jonas Dahl in 1750, she kept her maiden name. A second edition of the present work appeared in 1797. Her final work, Försök Til en liten Hushålls-Cateches, was published in 1800, when Rückerschöld was 75 and a widow. In this catechism, she once again advocates the importance of domestic and food preparation skills for women, and the need and importance of education to enable the proper running of a household.
Bibliography: Du Rietz, ‘Gastronomisk spegel’ 56; Blomqvist, ‘Mat och dryck i Sverige’, p. 209; Leijonhufvud & Brithelli, ‘Kvinnan inom svenska litteraturen’ p. 145; see also https://skbl.se/en/article/AnnaMariaRuckerschold; OCLC locates copies at the Royal Danish Library and Royal Swedish Library only