There are two sorts of cooks, those who follow a recipe and those who do things by feeling. I come from and belong to the latter, I like the excitement of your food always turning out a little differently every time you make it; that’s a lie, I’m just too lazy to measure things out.
But a vast majority of people do need detailed rules. There’s a good case for that – consistency of flavour when reproducing a dish. This exchange between Gordon Ramsay and a Malaysian homecook says it all.
But someone needs to write those books to document the cuisine to people. And in the case of Sweden, there is an undisputed mother of cooking, a person who was the first to document Swedish food recipes and note them down, her name was Anna Christina Warg, better known as Cajsa Warg.
The first search results when you type in Cajsa Warg today is a supermarket, but scroll a little more and you get to the person behind the name.
The Family Home of Cajsa Warg
Born in Örebro to a working class family in 1703 (her father was an accountant), Warg’s early life was characterised by abandonment, and self discovery. It was in her house in Örebro that Cajsa Warg learned how to cook; the house as been moved to Wadköping.
Her father passed away in 1708 and two years later her mother remarried to a noblemen and moved to Cajsa Warg decided to leave her home early and go to Srockholm to earna living. She received employment as a cook and housekeeper for several noble families in Stockholm. It was her employment in one of these households, exposure to foodies of the day that allowed her to become an influential person within the Swedish culinary world. She was a culinary ‘influencer’ of her day.
In fact her cooking was so good, that the great troubadour of Sweden, Carl Michael Bellman wrote a poem in praise of the food served at the banquets that Cajsa Warg made (although her never named her).
Cajsa Warg came into a small fortune at the death of her mother in 1755, who willed Warg a small fortune thanks to her mother’s second marriage to a nobleman. Using the proceeds, Warg published a book Hjelpreda I Hushållningen För Unga Fruentimber (“Guide to Housekeeping for Young Women”).
The book was so popular that it had 14 editions in Swedish, four editions in German and one in Estonian. Her cookbook was the core of Swedish family cooking for a good century until the 19th century when new technologies rendered some of her recipes obsolete.
Although to be fair, food is food, recipes do not go obsolete as they do get out of fashion. It certainly seems like some of her recipes were rather tasty…
I wonder if there’s a place in Sweden that makes food to her recipes?
Someone should make a ‘cosplay’ restaurant based on it…
Cover Image Source
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