October 15, 2009

Maria Parloa (1843-1909) was a native Bostonian who was to become a noted spokesperson for the Walter Baker & Company, Ltd. Miss Parloa, as she was known to many readers, had begun her career as a cook, working at one point as the pastry cook at the famous Appledore House on Appledore Island off the New Hampshire Coast, which was immortalized by Celia Thaxter whose family operated the famous inn for decades. Her 1872 book The Appledore Cook Book was to include her recipe on Tomato Chowder, which is still credited as the first tomato soup recipe to appear in print. After her graduation from the Maine Central Institute in 1871 she relocated to Mandarin, Florida for winters and where she began offering cooking classes that were fully subscribed and which were to launch her eventual career as a cooking teacher.
Miss Parloa returned to Boston where she taught Domestic Science at the Lasell (now College) Female Seminary in Newton, Massachusetts, which had been founded in 1851 by Edward Lasell. Her astute teaching methods were well received and she was to open Miss Parola’s Cooking School on Tremont Street in Boston, which led to her teaching at the Boston Cooking School, which she is also credited with co-founding, as well as at her own school. Parola expanded her cooking school to New York City where she offered classes for enrolled students during the day, and free classes in the evening for immigrant women, who learned how to prepare highly nutritious but also economical meals for their families. Relocating in 1887 back to Boston, for the next two decades she had a very productive and financially successful career. Her partial ownership of the “Ladies Home Journal” magazine allowed her articles on food and its preparation to be read by women far and wide, and her cookbooks, beginning in 1878 with Camp Cookery would eventually number eleven including Miss Parola’s New Cook Book: A Guide to Marketing and Cooking and Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes by Miss Parola for the Walter Baker & Company.
Miss Parloa extolled the nutritional qualities of chocolate, and her articles and recipes were well received by a chocolate loving readership. Her interest in the science of cooking, and her friendships with Ellen Swallow Richards, Mary Bailey Lincoln and Fannie Farmer expended her culinary interests, cooking skills and ability to teach others the skills and joys of cooking. Her innovative cooking skills led to her recipe in her 1882 book Miss Parloa’s New Cookbook for “Pigs-in-a-Blanket” which were fresh oysters seasoned with salt and pepper, rolled in a slice of bacon, secured with a toothpick and broiled, and served hot on toast. This highly innovative cook was also able to transcend the many skills necessary to teach the public to cook with ease and skill, and Walter Baker & Company continued to solicit her input and involvement until her death in 1909 in Bethel, Connecticut and her burial at Forest Hills Cemetery.

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