Anna Christina (Cajsa) Warg was a housekeeper and a well-known author of a cookery book.
Anna Christina Warg, known as Cajsa Warg, was born in Örebro in 1703. Her father was the local district judge and county clerk. Her mother’s origins lay in an ironworks-owning family whose childhood home had been an affluent one. Cajsa Warg’s father died when she was five years old. It was not long before her mother remarried, however, to a nobleman called Erik Rosenstråhle of Borggård in Finspång, where Cajsa Warg, her sister, and her mother moved. Over the years another seven siblings were added to the family. For unspecified reasons Cajsa Warg left the family home when she was still young and entered into the service of prominent families living in Stockholm. Wolter Reinholt Stackelberg was apparently her first employer, followed by Berndt Otto Stackelberg. They were both military men and her employment had presumably been arranged through her step-father.
At some point during the 1740s Cajsa Warg became a part of Leonard Klinckowström’s household – her mother was a cousin of the wife – and she remained there for the rest of her life. Initially Cajsa Warg served as the housekeeper, which would today be termed head of the kitchen. The Klinckowström household numbered a lot of servants and it was Cajsa Warg who organised and delegated their work. Further to her household duties Cajsa Warg also wrote a book for which she became well-known: Hjelpreda i Hushållningen för Unga Fruentimber. The book was printed in 1755 and was subsequently reprinted in several editions, both in Sweden and abroad.
Cajsa Warg’s cookery book was not the first of its kind. The question was: why did it become so popular? Jan Öjvind Swahn, a folklore scholar, describes the cookery book in the article “Mamsellen vid hällen” as one that comprised traditional domestic food. The readers found it reassuringly familiar. The recipes were intended for households on large estates or similarly-sized town households, although they were adaptable for smaller numbers.
Neither potatoes nor vegetables make any significant appearance in Cajsa Warg’s food preparations. These are thus old-fashioned recipes which are sceptical of new-fangled concepts such as ice-cream, which was deemed unhealthy due to its low temperature. Items such as wild fowl, shrimp, and geese were preferred.
Readers were also familiar with the cooking implements upon which Cajsa Warg based her book. Food was prepared on open fires and almost a hundred years would pass before wood-burning stoves and ovens became integral elements of kitchens in affluent homes. Yet another factor which may have contributed to the cookery book’s popularity was that it supplied precise measurements and that the descriptions of food handling included the smallest detail. Thus the cookery book really was useful for those who had no experience, and this was the very intention behind the book.
In many ways Cajsa Warg’s book was aimed at the upper classes. This was not just due to its conservative approach or because the recipes were based on large households. The courses were also heavily spiced, perhaps because the raw materials were not of terribly good quality. Spices, on the other hand, were not accessible to those of little means.
The same year that the cookery book was published Cajsa Warg inherited a relatively large sum of money on the death of her mother. It was perhaps this inheritance which financed the printing but with the constant reprints – the last of which dated from the 1820s – Cajsa Warg must have covered her outgoings and more. Cajsa Warg carried on living at the prestigious Klinckowström home even after the couple had both passed away. She made a living by taking in paying tenants. The inventory of her estate reveals that Cajsa Warg was relatively wealthy at the time of her death. In addition to a comprehensive wardrobe she also left a sizable sum of money and uncollected claims.
Cajsa Warg died in 1769. She was then 65 years old. She was buried in the Klinckowström crypt in Klara church in Stockholm.