Thursday, November 27, 2008

Miss Parloa's School of Cookery--New York, NY

Having come off of some very successful lectures for the New York Cooking School, Parloa in the fall of 1882 decides to open up a cooking school of her own modeled after her Boston school of Cookery. Maria Parloa leased a lovely house at 222 East Seventeenth street, near Stuyvesant square. It had been renovated to fit her school and this became her headquarters for some time.

Like Boston, there is a cozy reception on the first floor, while the lecture and classrooms were up one flight. The rooms were large and airy and comfortable for all the students, even the particular ones. They were very tidy, filled with bright tiles, dainty china, crystal and fine glassware. She stored all of these items in closets, sideboards and an old-fashioned dresser. 'Instantly one wonders what so many little pitchers are necesary, for a good hundred are visible.' So it seems that Maria Parloa is self described, fascinated by the sizes, shapes and colors and is always on the hunt for new ones.'

On Monday, October 30, opening day nearly 20 women, both young and old came to Parloa's school to listen to her lecture on the art and science of good cooking. Miss Parloa wore a blue check dress with a neat white apron. The class began exactly at 2:30 p.m. Students copied recipes, instructions and hints.

According to Parloa
"The School of Cookery is designed to furnish ladies with all the knowledge of kitchen duties which is ordinarily desired, and it will always be conducted with the view of affording every patron a genuine benefit. It is not intented merely to provide and afternoon's diversion for occasional auditors at the public lectures, nor simply to furnish a round of merry times for pupils in practice classes: neither, on the other hand is it intended to permit the studies to become tedious in any degree."

The lesson plans were similar to Boston's. She provided demonstrations twice a week or more as needed. When she was not teaching in her school she was lecturing in other cities, working on her books, or donating her time to charities.

Miss Parloa's School of Cookery--Boston, MA

In October, 1877 Maria Parloa opened the doors of her school of cookery. Miss Parloa's School of Cookery was located at 174 Tremont Street in Boston, where today a multiplex Loews Cinema stands. It had been the studio of William M. Hunt, the famous American painter. Hunt was believed to have been the first American master to admit female students into his classes. It is highly likely that Parloa first became acquainted with Mr. Hunt during her days on Appledore Island.

The lecture room
"was approached through a pretty reception room and found to be a spacious, inviting apartment, as far different from the ordinary schoolroom as anybody can imagine. Half of the room, intended for the audience, contained tiers of low platforms, neatly carpeted, on which were ranged fifty or more comfortable chairs; the other half was carpeted with oil-cloth, and in this part stood a large stove and several tables. Near by were well-stocked china closets and a refrigerator room. A blue and white tiling, covering the wall space around the stove and above some of the tables; half-a-dozen photographic views of the mountain scenes familiar to Miss Parloa; a few other pictures, of a bright character; and best of all, a mass of plants and vines, partly filling an immense window through which sunlight streamed. These were some of the things that made the place so cherry as to convince all comers that the study of cookery was to be made a real pleasure."
William V. Alexander 1885

Parloa continued her school in Boston until 1882. In the fall of 1881 Parloa went west to lecture in Chicago, Milwaukee and elsewhere. She then did a stint at the New York Cooking School which was having some difficulties and in need of some new energy. Her lectures were very successful and the auditorium was always filled. In autumn of 1882 she learned that the school was discontinuing outside lectures, so a new school was born in New York.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Educator

Tremont Temple (rebuilt in 1896)

Maria Parloa gave her first public lecture on "Cooking and Digestion" in New London, Connecticut in the summer of 1876. Beginning in May (May 23, 1877), the following year she gave four introductory lectures in Tremont Temple in Boston, Massachusetts. These gave her the courage to open her first school in October 1877 at 174 Tremont Street.

In 1878 Parloa gave lectures at Lasell Seminary, Auburndale and also at Miss Morgan's school in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In the summer of that same year she visited schools in England and France and by 1879 she gave of course of lectures at the Assembly Lake Chautauqua, New York in connection with the Chautauqua literary and Scientific Circle and National Sunday School Assembly.

Her school, Miss Parloa's School of Cookery, at 174 Tremont continued until 1882. She then went on to lecture in Chicago and other western cities. Later she would go on to establish a school in New York City.

There is much confusion over whether or not Maria Parloa started the Boston Cooking School, and the truth is, she did not. Her school was a private effort, owned and managed by her. The Woman's Educational Association (not the Women's Educational and Industrial Union) in 1879 gave $100 for the establishment of the Boston Cooking School (BCS). It opened it's doors up the street from Parloa's school at 158 1/2 Tremont Street. Miss Joanna Sweeney was the formal teacher, however Maria gave demonstration on alternate Saturdays at BCS.

Miss Parloa gives an account of the beginning.
"The beginning of my work was accidental and did not have the commercial side in view. I was teaching in a little country school in Florida, and interested in all the people there. There seemed to be need of bringing all the people, children and parents, together at least once a week, and we tried to do it in the Sunday school in the sparsely settled part of the town. We felt the need of some sort of a musical instrument, and I tired to raise the money by asking various friends and acquaintances for it, and got quite a little that way; finally I gave a talk on cookery, prepared a paper carefully describing the processes of digestion, etc., and then with a little gas stove illustrated some things.

"The talk was given in the vestry of a church, and with what I had already collected and the money received from this lecture I had nearly enough money to buy a small cabinet organ. Two of my friends gave the amount lacking, which was $10, and we bought the organ for the little Sunday School. After this lecture, so many of my friends urged me to do this thing that I thought seriously of it, and the next spring, at the end of the school year, when all teachers were asked to make their application for the next year, I asked the school board to hold the school for me a few months until I was sure as to whether I would return; they kindly did it. Then, to test whether there was interest in the work and if I had the proper qualifications for it, I arranged for a series of lectures in Boston in one of the lecture rooms in Tremont Temple.

"The interest seemed to warrant my undertaking the work, and I decided to open a school in the fall, 1877, which I did on Tremont Street. The interest was very great, and all the time I had my school in Boston I had more than I possibly could do; but naturally the expenses were great, and the first year, although I worked so very hard, my expenses were $500 over my income from my work. Afterwards my expenses were not so great and the income was more than the outgo. Personally I do not think that the commercial side appealed to me very greatly, but naturally if I spend money for my work I must earn enough to pay my debts. The work to me has been, and still is, most interesting; and I feel that it is one of the largest and boradest works a woman can do, and if I had the time, strength, and means I would devote myself to it still. I feel that while a great deal has been done along these lines that it is only th ebeginning. It is a magnificent work for any young woman to take up."

Maria Parloa 1906

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Culinary Pioneer Dead at 65

Parloa, after failing to rally after an operation on Wednesday, died late Saturday afternoon (August 21, 1909) at her home in Bethel Connecticut. Services were held in Bethel on Tuesday and then at the chapel at Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston the next day. Reverend Thomas C. Campbell, rector of St John’s Church in Jamaica Plain officiated. Campbell read the Episcopal ritual and the last words of committal. It was a simple service with the singing of “Abide with me” and “Blest be the tie that binds”. Her body was cremated and buried at Forest Hills


Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maria Parloa's Books

1872 The Appledore Cook Book

1878 Camp Cookery

1879 First Principles of Household Management

1880 Miss Parloa's New Cook Book: A Guide to Marketing and Cooking

1887 An Ideal Kitchen: Miss. Parloa's Kitchen Companion: A Guide for All Who Would be Good Housekeepers

1893 Miss Parloa's Kitchen Young Housekeeper

1898 Home Economics: A Guide to Household Management

A Unique Woman

(Parloa, Far Right Back Corner)

aria Parloa was widely known as a writer and lecturer on the art of Cookery and Household Economics. She lived from 1843-1909. And it could be argued that she was one of the first people to encourage home economics be taught in schools. Parloa wrote seven books, many articles, pamphlets and bulletins. She was a major contributor to Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal. While today her name is one that lives in obscurity, during the turn of the century she was very well know. Parloa was an educator at heart and helped launch the career of Mary Lincoln who would become the educator of the famed cookbook author, Fanny Farmer.

Unfortunately little is know about the early years of Maria Parloa, she was orphaned at a young age, likely worked as a domestic and made her way up through resort properties in southern and northern New Hampshire. Parloa went on to get educated and subsequently opened cooking schools in Boston and New York which ultimately led to her writing career.

I have started this blog as a way to record my research which I began in the Fall of 2003. I'm not entirely sure where this knowledge will take me, but I have been fascinated by this most innovative, independent women, who seemingly forged a career out of little more than hard work and determination.

My obsession began on a cold October afternoon, as I was combing my way through dusty antiquarian books in Boston with my now husband, Jonathan. I came across this brown embossed, gold trimmed title, Appledore, which immediately caught my attention because of my familiarity with Appledore Island (Isles of Shoals) off the coast of NH. I had been interested in food history and was intrigued by the idea of finding a local cookbook. I looked at it for a good long time, but knew that the $100 price tag was out of my league. So back on the shelf the book went and by chance one week later I would have another encounter that would bring me back to Maria Parloa and the Appledore cookbook.