Here are two excellent books about using those mysterious, "unfashionable" parts of the animal (tails, shanks, ribs, etc.).Bones: Recipes, History and Lore
, by Jennifer McCaganAll About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
, by Molly Stevens
In addition, Time-Life's excellent cookbook series, "The Good Cook," has a volume on "Variety Meats," which is out of print, but available used online.
I've also come across this fascinating collection of recipes for old-time "invalid dishes," such as gruel, caudle, beef tea, barley water, oxtail jelly, and herbal tonics. (It's also out of print, but available used.)A Soothing Broth
by Pat Willard
Here's a book of old-world recipes and instructions for making sausages. The author learned to cook as a child, watching his Russian grandmother prepare traditional dishes. He went on to study ethnic sausage-making techniques from around the world, to help preserve this dying art. Unlike the much more expensive and lavishly illustrated Charcuterie
, none of these recipes call for nitrates. The Sausage-Making Cookbook
by Jerry Predika
Finally, a book of particular interest to those of Irish background:Irish Food and Cooking
by Georgina Campbell and Biddy White Lennon
This only came out last year, but it seems to be out of print already. (I found it on a St. Patrick's Day display at Borders.) Predictably, most of the baked goods call for refined grains and sugar, but there's also an excellent selection of recipes for soups, stews, roast game, etc. More importantly, this book has a great deal of information about traditional Irish diets (going back many centuries), which I haven't been able to find elsewhere.
For those researching traditional diets of other countries, especially in Europe: If you search the web for "SCA recipes [name of country]", you'll find many sites put together by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, who enjoy researching medieval foods and cooking techniques. (For instance, Godecookery.com
is a very extensive one.) These sites often have reviews of "historical cookbooks."
Here's someone's Amazon Listmania! list, which has many recommendations: Essential SCA Cooking and Food History Books
(I'm a little scared to order these books, because I bet they're going to tell me that my ancestors loved to eat "eel pie" or "potted eels" or something. I'm not generally squeamish; in fact, we had fried lamb's brains last week. But, for some reason, eels really freak me out. Unless they're grilled, in sushi. For some reason, that doesn't count.