©Nina Mangalanayagam

Le Cuisinier François, by La Varenne

This 17th-century cookbook eschewed the spices and sugar of medieval food and introduced regional and seasonal ingredients. It is the precursor to today’s classic French canon

The history cook: ‘Jewish Cookery’, by Florence Greenberg

Most postwar Anglo-Jewish households owned a copy of this book, a perfect mix of eastern European staples and ‘new’, continental fare

Cover page of 'Mediterranean Seafood' by Alan Davidson
©Nina Mangalanayagam

‘Mediterranean Seafood’, by Alan Davidson

How a Foreign Office diplomat with a ‘pretty depraved taste’ for ketchup and Spam became one of the 20th century’s great cookery writers

Book cover of 'Fancy Ices'
©Nina Mangalanayagam

Fancy Ices

What to serve for dessert at a Victorian ‘ball supper’? Try an ice-cream swan or a frozen soufflé tower, says ‘ice queen’ Mrs Marshall

Sophia Loren in her cookbook 'Eat with Me'
©Nina Mangalanayagam

History Cook: ‘Eat with Me’ by Sophia Loren

When Sophia Loren wrote her ‘gastronomic autobiography’, age 37, it was every bit as bizarre – and sulphurously sexy – as you’d expect

Rum baba: a typically sumptuous Carrier presentation
©Nina Mangalanayagam

The history cook: Great Dishes of the World

American food writer Robert Carrier was the Liberace of domestic kitchens, persuading the housewives of postwar Britain that cooking was fun

Ashley Palmer-Watts and Polly Russell make frumenty
©Nina Mangalanayagam


How a 14th-century recipe for a porridge-like staple ended up on the Christmas menu of Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant Dinner

Image of book Joy of Slimming from British Library Collection
©Nina Mangalanayagam/FT

The Joy of Slimming

While very 1970s, this owes more to a Victorian ‘Letter on Corpulence’ than a rather famous sex manual

Acton's book was a polemic for domestic baking
©Nina Mangalanayagam

The English Bread Book

Victorian Britain’s poor lived off cheap bread. Enter Eliza Acton, champion of the home-made loaf

Book of Tasty and Healthy Food
©Nina Mangalanayagam

The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food

How the Soviet Union tried to persuade its people that they were living in a culinary paradise – and failed