Anna Kristina Warg, better known as Kajsa Warg, can perhaps be called Sweden’s first celebrity chef. She was born in Örebro in 1703 and for much of her adult life came to work as a mother cell with the Klinkofström family in Stockholm.
In 1755 she published the first edition of her cookbook Home helper for timber young women. The cookbook was a huge success and was published in 14 editions; Also translated into German, his legacy lives on to this day.
Don’t be the only cookbook
What many may not know is that Kajsa Warg was a far cry from being the author of a cookbook in 18th century Stockholm. Several other cookbooks have been published, but no one has had the same success as Wargs, so how did that happen?
Ulrika Söderlind, Senior Lecturer in Meal and Restaurant Science at Umeå University, posed this question to herself. I closely read Cajsa Warg’s cookbook and three other Swedish cookbooks from the same period to understand more about cooking in 18th century Sweden and what made Warg’s cookbook so special. She mentioned her studies in the book Cajsa Warg Kitchen – Four gastronomy, food, drink and cooking during the Swedish 18th century.
Three competitors studied
In addition to Kajsa Warg’s cookbook, I have studied cookbooks by Susanna Egren, published 1733, Margarita Ellsberg published 1751, and Johann Weinberg published 1761. Johann Weinberg’s cooking was what we might call today “Continental”. It seemed to be influenced by the Mediterranean and used exclusive ingredients like Parmesan cheese, Chinese soybeans, and basil oil. His recipe would probably have been a bit strange to speaking to the wider population in the eighteenth century. The other two cookbooks were shorter than Cajsa Wargs’, but still relatively pricey. Elzberg and Egerin are also tighter and tougher in tone than Warg. Ulrica Söderlind says it’s a sense of stretch and alertness aimed at young housewives who will use books.
Cajsa Warg’s food was complicated
Ulrica Söderlind believes that what makes Cajsa Warg cooking most important is its complexity. Several cooking techniques were used and many imported spices such as ginger, coriander, anise and truffles.
– When you read her recipe, it looks like Cajsa Warg must have been very skilled, and she must have learned to cook from scratch already when she was little. Her recipes were also very short and straightforward. They gave you exactly what you need to know, nothing more.
Eat the new ice cream
In her cookbook, Warg also combined popular recipes, for example, her book is the only book that dedicates sausage dishes to its own chapter, with more modern dishes. She is the only cookbook author who has reluctantly eaten the new ice cream.
Kagsa Warg writes in her cookbook that not only can you fail to get recipes for ice cream in a cookbook, but she also points out that ice cream is not good for health. I called ice cream, which was among the kinds we called sherbet today, “cooling watt” and should probably be understood as a negative. However, it must be remembered that fresh water was a scarce commodity in Stockholm at the time, so there was a healthy side to criticizing it. Fresh water has been tested in Stockholm wells and only one, the wells on the Farby farm, has been approved. That’s why they drank so much beer, says Ulrika Söderlind.
He paid for his book himself
Ulrica Söderlind can mention that Warg’s cookbook was educational as it was broken down into different categories of recipes (soups, pastries, fish recipes, etc.). This division lives on in modern cookbooks. Many of the other cookbooks that Ulrica Söderlind has studied closely do not have the same division and are therefore seen as more unstructured.
Cajsa Warg must have been a tough guy. Because even if a man like her belonged to an upper class, it wasn’t easy to publish a cookbook in the eighteenth century. For example, it is known that she paid for the first edition of her book herself. Not many of them were educated during this time and the book written by a woman was very unusual. Warg also faced stiff competition from other cookbook authors. It is not known if she and Johan Weinberg, also an author from Stockholm, met her. But he writes tenderly in the preface to his cookbook, published in 1761, six years after the Cajsa Wargs, that “there is no good cookbook in Sweden”.
20 eggs and two “vital maids”
Many Cajsa Warg recipes look modern today. In her cake recipes, for example, she used a basic recipe for the topping, or cake base, in the same way that bakeries use today.
– You must remember that you did not have baking powder or bicarbonate to make the cake fluffy. Instead, they used eggs, and it was a huge task. Of course, they also did not have modern equipment, but they used a wooden bowl and a wooden paddle. For one serving, you might need to whisk 20 eggs, and in other recipes from this time it’s also been noted that you prefer to have “two graceful maids” as a whisk to get the cake, says Ulrica Söderlind.
I’ve tried the recipes
Along with alumni Emil Gredmo and Peter Stenman, Ulrica Söderlind realized a number of recipes from Cajsa Warg’s cookbook.
Sampling the Cajsa Warg recipe was a really exciting experience. Some recipes, such as salmon in wine and cherry sauce, felt strange for the modern palate. Others, like cinnamon-baked apples, gave us an instantly Christmas feel, and we found they could easily be served on the modern Christmas table.
take what you have
Although there are no preserved photographs of Cajsa Warg, and despite the fact that there is limited knowledge of how she lived, the memory of her cooking survives to this day. And how was it now, can you find the winged words “take what you have” in her cookbook?
– No, haha, unfortunately, there are no documents that would have expressed themselves in this way, says Ulrica Söderlind.
The Cuisine of Cajsa Warg – Four Delicacies, Food, Drink, and Cooking During the Swedish Eighteenth Century (University Academic Press)
Ulrica Söderlind, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Umeå University, email@example.com