This work includes introduction by Ivan Day. "The Lady's Assistant" by Charlotte Mason is an important but much neglected eighteenth century cookery book. Unusually the table settings show layouts for more ordinary households as well as affluent ones, and the recipes follow this pattern. In an introduction the food historian Ivan Day discusses Charlotte Mason's innovative dishes in this most interesting work. In the first edition of 1773 the book's author was described as 'a professed housekeeper, who had upwards of thirty years experience of families of the first fashion'. She was eventually identified in the second edition of 1775 as a Mrs Charlotte Mason. Unfortunately the families who employed this lady were not named and there are no other useful clues in the book concerning the details of her career, nor in any of the subsequent editions. Mrs Mason remains a mysterious and elusive figure.
Ivan Day is a food historian with a special interest in re-creating the food of the past in period settings. His work has been exhibited in many major museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Paul Getty Museum, Waddesdon Manor, Fairfax House and the Museum of London. His books include The Pleasures of the Table (with Peter Borwn, 1998) and Eat, Drink and be Merry (editor, 2000).