Oh, Those Crazy Drunk Victorians!

Christopher Kimball: man, legend
Christopher Kimball: man, legend Photo: America’s Test Kitchen

A couple of weeks ago, we marveled at the quirky perfectionism of America’s Test Kitchen’s Christopher Kimball. For his new book, Fannie’s Last Supper: Re-creating One Amazing Meal from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Cookbook, no detail was left unattended. Now, the Globe reveals more juicy details from the project.

Indeed, Kimball set himself a Sisyphean task: recreate the recipes in Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, to culminate in one grand, made-for-TV meal. To capture the spirit of the Victorian era, he employed an army of servants, cooked on a traditional 19th-century coal stove, and used only period ingredients.

But you might be surprised to know that, per Kimball, Farmer wasn’t much of a cook at all. No, she was a businesswoman. And a good thing, too: Her Boston Cooking-School needed someone to take control. Why? It was established as a nonprofit to provide nutrition to Boston’s “teeming” population of alcoholics. “They were walking around drunk by 8 a.m.,’’ Kimball notes in the Globe. “Gin was cheap.’’

Taking a Page or Two from Fannie Farmer [Globe]

Previously: What Kind of a Man Is Christopher Kimball?

Oh, Those Crazy Drunk Victorians!