Born on September 25, 1843, Maria Parloa spent the early portion of her career cooking for private families and hotels. Drawing on her experiences as a cook for the Appledore House resort, she published her first work, The Appledore Cook Book, while pursuing a teaching degree at the Maine Central Institute.
Five years later, “Miss Parloa,” as she came to be known to her readers and students, founded a successful cooking school in Boston. Over the course of her lifetime, Maria Parloa would go on to begin a second cooking school, this one in New York City, publish nine more books, and endorse a variety of culinary products.
Miss Parloa stood out from her contemporaries both because of her savvy business acumen—she traded on her fame to endorse products in advertising long before it was the norm-- and her early dedication to teaching young women the science of household management. Parloa's recipes likewise reflect this interest in educating beginning cooks. Although elegantly advanced dishes do make an appearance, many recipes use plain language to clearly communicate the preparation of culinary basics.
In the 1891 edition of The Appeldore Cook Book, for example, she gives simple instructions on how to bake a One, Two, Three, Four Cake:
One coffee-cup of butter, two of sugar, four of flour, one of milk, five eggs, one teaspoonful of saleratus, two of cream of tartar, lemon. This will make two good-sized sheets. Bake one half plain, and the other half spice with one teaspoonful of cinnamon, one half of clove, the same of allspice and nutmeg. Bake in a rather quick oven.
Join us in celebrating Miss Parloa's accomplishments in the field of American cooking and home economics! The Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive contains many more examples of Miss Parloa's recipes and household advice. All of these items can be requested through Mirlyn for use in the Special Collections Reading Room on the 8th floor of the Hatcher Graduate Library.