Has anyone ever told you that if you can read, you can cook? While that’s true today, before the late 1800s, American recipes were tricky business. Measurements weren’t standard. One person’s cup might be a different size from her neighbor’s. The only way to learn a new recipe was to watch someone make it.
In 1896, Fannie Farmer published a book that changed how Americans looked at food. Farmer was the principal of the Boston Cooking School. She loved to study science and medicine. She especially liked how scientists and doctors used precise measurements in order to obtain the same results over and over. Fannie Farmer decided to apply science to cooking. She developed standard measurements for things like cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons. Fannie Farmer wanted to make sure that anyone who followed a recipe could create a perfect meal.
Fannie Farmer sold 4 million copies of her cookbook in the last 20 years of her life. It became an instant classic and found a home in many American kitchens. Today, many home cooks still use the Fannie Farmer Cookbook and follow her tips for scientific cooking.
Watch the first video to learn more about Fannie Farmer. Check out the next clips to learn about two modern-day university courses on the science of cooking.