This is a facsimile of the recipe book of my grandmother Ada de la Harpe.

Ada Henrietta Ferdinands, my grandmother, was born in 1883, the sixth of the fourteen children of Frederick William Ferdinands and Henrietta Jansz, a Sri Lankan Dutch Burgher. Dutch Burghers are the descendants of employees of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) who chose to remain in Sri Lanka when the British took over government of the country.

She married Lawrence Isidore Michael de la Harpe on 12th March, 1833. She was his second wife. They had two children, Celia Helen, my mother, born 27th March, 1922, and Ian Frederick, born 18th February, 1925.

Celia married Alphonsus Gerard Godfrey van Reyk on 23rd November, 1946. Celia and Gerry had four children of whom I was the third, born 30th November, 1952.

There are two unusual features of Ada’s Cookery Book for me. The recipes follow each other closely with no space for additions and little for revisions: they are ordered into categories; there is an index; there are no pasted in recipes from others; all of which usually characterize domestic cookbooks. When I asked my mum about it she said that Ada probably at some stage got all her recipe cards and notes together ordered like published cookbooks she would have seen and then wrote the book we now have. Mum thinks she did this late in the 1930’s or early 1940’s. Why Ada chose to do this remains Ada’s secret.