Christianity in the Kitchen

A Physiological Cook Book

Published in Boston in 1857, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection was written by Mary Mann, wife of Horace Mann, to demonstrate how to prepare foods that are healthful, nutritious, and appealing to the Christian appetite. 

 Mary Mann, one of the famous Peabody sisters—reformers and pioneers of modern educational theory—believed that good digestion was synonymous with virtue, and dyspepsia was equated with sin. So the advice and recipes in her cookbook promote good eating habits in accordance with this belief, discouraging the consumption of processed and fatty foods labeling them “death in the pot.” In accordance with her temperance beliefs, alcohol should not be used in cooking, and butter or lard, turtle soup, wheat flour, vinegar, and baking soda were all unchristian. “Compounds, like wedding cake, suet plum-puddings, and rich turtle soup, are masses of indigestible material, which should never find their way to any Christian table . . . If asked why I pronounce these and similar dishes unchristian, I answer that health is one of the indispensable conditions of the highest morality and beneficence.” Her cookbook contains several hundred recipes for a wide variety of dishes from soup to nuts (including meat—she was not a vegetarian) that reflect this philosophy.


This edition of Christianity in the Kitchen by Mary Tyler Peabody Mannwas reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the Society is a research library documenting the life of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The Society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection includes approximately 1,100 volumes.

About the Author

 Mary Tyler Peabody Mann, born in 1807, was the wife of Antioch College president and educational reformer Horace Mann, and she shared her husband's views on education. Before their marriage, Mary Peabody joined with her sister, kindergarten movement leader Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, to establish a girl's school in Brookline, Massachusetts. Both Mary and her sister Sophia, whose husband was Nathaniel Hawthorne, were married at sister Elizabeth's West Street Bookstore in Boston. The Manns moved to Ohio in 1852 when he accepted the position at Antioch, and after his death, Mary returned to Boston. She remained active in social reform including suffrage, education reform, and American Indian rights.

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