Fannie Merritt Farmer was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 23, 1857. Recipes in 19th-century cookbooks relied on measurements like a “handful” of rice or a “goodly amount” of molasses — on the assumption that women largely knew how to cook.
Fannie Merritt Farmer changed all that. Widely credited with inventing the modern recipe, Farmer was the first professional cook to insist that scientific methods and precise measurements — level teaspoons, cups and ounces — produce better food, and also the first to demonstrate that cooking classes could be mass-market entertainment.
She was the oldest of four daughters of J. Franklin Farmer, a master printer, and Mary Watson Merritt Farmer. Fannie’s parents had hopes of sending her to college, but after high school graduation she suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed. Fannie was powerless to get out of bed for months for years. She was eventually able to walk, but always retained a limp.
Farmer then registered in the Boston Cooking School, where her performance was outstanding. Farmer began to appreciate the association between eating and good health.
One of Farmer’s major contributions was training cooks to judiciously follow recipes. She received favorable newspaper coverage in many American cities, and her influence was extensive. She also wrote a popular cooking column, which ran for nearly ten years in the Woman’s Home Companion, magazine.
Farmer was a woman of unusual incentive, intellect, and bravery. Though she suffered another paralytic stroke later in her life, she continued lecturing. In fact, ten days before her death in 1915, she delivered a lecture from a wheelchair.
FANNIE FARMER OFF-AIR PLAYLIST:
“Come On In My Kitchen” ~ Robert Johnson
“Spoonful” ~ Howlin’ Wolf
“Home Cookin’” ~ Jr. Walker & The Allstars
“Savory Truffle” ~ The Beatles
“Country Pie” ~ Bob Dylan