Before The Joy of Cooking , there was The Boston Cooking School Cookbook . Written by Fannie Farmer, principal of the school, and published in 1896, it was the bestselling cookbook of its age. 400,000 copies were sold by Farmer's death in 1915 -- and more than 4 million were sold by the 1960s. It perfectly encapsulates the late Victorian era, but it's also surprisingly modern; in short, it's ripe for reevaluation. And who better to conduct such an experiment than Chris Kimball, founder of Cook's Illustrated and host of PBS's America's Test Kitchen ? Fannie's Last Supper is the result. In it, Kimball assembles an extravagant 12-course Christmas dinner from Farmer's cookbook and serves it in an 1859 Boston townhouse, complete with an authentic Victorian home kitchen, uniformed maids, and a distinguished guest list. The menu includes Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing, Canton Punch, Three Moulded Victorian Jellies, and Mandarin Cake. But Kimball includes more than just the dinner party's dishes -- Fannie's Last Supper is a working cookbook with tested, rewritten, updated recipes drawn from Farmer's opus. It's a culinary thriller of sorts, travelling back in time to reexamine something most of us take for granted: the North American table.