Bohemian San Francisco

Bohemian San Francisco cover
Cover of “Bohemian San Francisco”

How many cookbooks start like this:

No apologies are offered for this book. In fact, we rather like it. Many years have been spent in gathering this information, and naught is written in malice, nor through favoritism, our expressions of opinion being unbiased by favor or compensation.

and then continue like this?

San Francisco! Is there a land where the magic of that name has not been felt? Bohemian San Francisco! Pleasure-loving San Francisco! Care-free San Francisco! … It was in Paris that a world traveler said to us: “San Francisco! That wonderful city where you get the best there is to eat, served in a manner that enhances its flavor and establishes it forever in your memory.”

So begins Clarence Edwords’s 1914 culinary history of the City By the Bay, Bohemian San Francisco. He starts by defining “Bohemia” as the “naturalism of refined people,” and the “protest of naturalism against the too rigid, and oft-times, absurd restrictions established by Society.” Edwords touches on each period of San Francisco history, each community of European and Asian immigrants, with recipes from most of them.

Bohemian San Francisco title
Title page of “Bohemian San Francisco”. The photograph is of the Cobweb Palace, an old saloon at the corner of Francisco & Powell

Unsurprisingly, Edwords lavishes particular attention on seafood. (“The Bohemian way to have your clams is to go to the shore of Bolinas Bay or some equally retired spot, and have a clam bake.”) Bohemian San Francisco contains perhaps the earliest mention in print of the Crab Louie salad, and the book is credited with popularizing the Celery Victor salad (which was invented by Victor Hertzler, chef at the St Francis Hotel).

Though many—if not most—of Paul Elder’s publications have languished in obscurity, Bohemian San Francisco is one of a handful to be reprinted in recent decades. In 1973 it was published by the Silhouette Press, and in recent years by a number of on-demand publishers.

Bohemian San Francisco p18
Page 18-19 of “Bohemian San Francisco,” where Edwords describes the Cobweb Palace

Edwords’s approach to food is probably best summed up by the toast that appears at the beginning of the book:

Our Toast:

Not to the Future, nor to the Past / No drink of Joy or Sorrow / We drink alone to what will last / Memories on the Morrow / Let us live as Old Time passes / To the Present let Bohemia bow / Let us raise on high our glasses / To Eternity — the ever-living Now

 

101 Epicurean Thrills

Beginning in 1902, May E. Southworth wrote a series a cookbooks for Paul Elder, each containing one hundred and one recipes. Elder, who enjoyed giving most everything a special title, named the series “101 Epicurean Thrills”. They sold well and many were reprinted into the early 1910s. Most memorably, they each have whimsical cover artwork by an unidentified artist. Most commonly seen in paper wraps, each title was also sold in cloth over boards. The twelve titles are:

  • 101 Beverages
  • 101 Candies
  • 101 Chafing-Dish Recipes
  • 101 Desserts
  • 101 EntrĂ©es
  • 101 Layer Cakes
  • 101 Mexican Dishes
  • 101 Oyster Recipes
  • 101 Salads
  • 101 Sandwiches
  • 101 Sauces
  • 101 Ways of Serving Oysters

In 1914, Southworth followed up the series with a cookbook entitled Midnight Feasts: 202 Salads and Chafing-Dish Recipes.

101 Candies
101 Candies
101 Candies cover cloth
Alternate cloth cover of "101 Candies"
101 Chafing
101 Chafing Dish Recipes
101 Desserts
101 Desserts
101 Entrees
101 Entrees
101 Mexican Dishes
101 Mexican Dishes
101 Salads
101 Salads
101 Sandwiches
101 Sandwiches, with the 1902 version of the cover artwork. This may be the earliest book in the series, as I haven't seen any other title with this cover style.
101 Sandwiches
101 Sandwiches with the revised cover artwork, in cloth over boards
101 Layer Cakes cloth
101 Layer Cakes, cloth over boards
101 Oyster Recipes
101 Oyster Recipes