The legend of Fannie Farmer and her legacy.
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Thanks to a stroke at the age of 16, Fannie Farmer became a pioneer in the cooking world. Born in Boston in 1857 to focussed parents, Farmer understood the importance of education. Holed up in her parent’s home, due to the stroke that left her disabled and robbed of a promising education, Farmer developed a passion for cooking. Farmer turned her parent’s home in to a boarding house and her culinary reputation quickly grew.
Her continued focus on food and its nutritional value helped heal most of her disabilities related to her stroke, save for a permanent limp, and set her off on a life’s work dedicated to food nutrition and education.
Farmer developed the understanding of the chemical processes that occur in cooking that she could provide detailed explanations regarding the science of food. Her systematic discussion of measurements required for successful recipes led her to being known as “the mother of level measurements.”
At the age of 30, whilst employed as a family helper, Farmer was encouraged to enrol in the Boston Cooking School and train as a cooking teacher. In 1889, she went on to become Assistant Principal, followed by Principal of the school by 1891.
A few years later, Farmer published The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, a thorough and comprehensive book introducing the concept of using standardised spoon and cup measurements and level measurements. Not expecting the book to be successful, the publishing company printed a minimal run at Farmer’s expense. The book became so popular making the author and teacher very wealthy. The book continued to print for the next 100 years.
During the last decade of her life, Farmer was confined to a wheelchair. Despite her disabilities, Farmer never stopped teaching or developing recipes. She even lectured right up to ten days before she died, in 1915, at the age of 57.
For more on this amazing woman, follow the links below: