Archive for January 10th, 2008


WND – Turkey Tetrazzini

January 10, 2008

I like reading cookbooks, particularly old cookbooks. Not because I’m particularly interested in making the recipes – I can flatly guarantee that there is no circumstance in which I am going to want to make anything in aspic – but because they’re little slices of social history.

The American Frugal Housewife from 1833 warns her readers that, “Economical people will seldom use preserves, except for sickness. They are unhealthy, expensive and useless to those who are well.” The Charlotte Cookbook from 1969 gives menu suggestions for everything from a Bridge Luncheon to a Debutante Supper Party which include such recipes as Florida Garden Salad with Whipped Cream Dressing, and Sherry Pie. Even the Joy of Cooking, which I tend to think of as a relentlessly practical source of information, is full of weird little pieces of advice if you actually sit down and read the chapter introductions.

I like them partly because they’re just bizarre – who knew you could do that many things with jello, or that you might want to – and partly because I was a history major. Women’s history isn’t written in treaties or filed in national archives, it’s found in cookbooks and letters and guides on how to be a good housewife. Old cookbooks are a walk through how much life has changed even in just the last 50 years. Now we have shows on the Food Network about how to combine two working parents and kids with multiple after school activities with a home cooked meal every night. 40 years ago cookbooks were explaining the subtle differences between hors d’oeuvres and appetizers and how to plan an economical luncheon menu (use leftovers from your dinner the night before).
Read the rest of this entry ?