The Confectioner's Oracle

This is without a doubt my absolutely favourite sweets book. Its author, a professional London sweetmaker, who we see here posing in a typically eccentric and pretentious manner for the frontispiece of his book, was a man of highly individual wit and preposterous views. The Confectioner's Oracle is a perfectly serviceable recipe manual for high-class sweet and dessert making, but it is Gunter's continuous stream of asides which make it irresistible. He opens the book with a description of a dream in which he is led by a witch to a banqueting table laden with sweets where the Earl of Powis and Lady Agar Ellis (valued customers?) 'indulged their nerves in gustatory rapture'. He goes on to attack Simnel cakes -- 'the mortar of some antique prison mixed up with gingerbread' -- and then vilifies the entire population of Shrewsbury for their supposed addiction to these cakes. He claims that the French 'bathe about three times a week, and always take a cup of vanilla chocolate before quitting the warm water' and tells a story of an Englishman who 'actually put out one of the eyes of his young bride!!!' (Gunter's italics and exclamation marks) by throwing sweets at her in imitation of an Italian custom. Inimitable.

 

Taken from: The Confectioner's Oracle
Author / Creator: W. Gunter
Publisher: Alfred Miller
Date: 2004
Copyright: © The British Library Board
Shelfmark: 1037f34