Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Could Cook Dinner, But I’ve Run Out Of Repression. And Butter.

I love old cookbooks. I love how, through food, we get a glimpse of social and home life at the time of the cook book’s publication.

Recently, I inherited a Betty Crocker cook book from my Grandmother. It is the 1956 2nd edition, and full of useful information on how to be a pleasant housewife and a good hostess.

Let’s take a look at some of these gems, shall we?

The first page is titled “Special Helps.” In front of that Grandma paper-clipped instructions for making 15 different cocktails. Even the Cappuccino contains an ounce of Brandy. “Special Helpers” indeed!

The tips on measuring and cooking techniques are still useful today. And strongly enforced.

Measure that pan, lest Officer McShane beat you within an inch of your life.

Betty Crocker shares more meal-planning wisdom. For example:

“Why are some mothers tired all the time and some children fighting colds all winter? Probably because they don’t eat the right things.”

It certainly can’t have anything to do with having to chase after children who squabble and and lick things. It has nothing to do with the elaborate meals this cookbook recommends she plans three times a day, every day. It can’t be staying up all night with a colicky baby. Nope.

If only I fed my family the right things...

Now, since you want a well-nourished family, Betty Crocker lists some suggestions for everyday dinners:

“Roast Beef, Browned Potatoes, New Peas in Cream, Mixed Green Salad, Dinner Rolls, Fruit Ambrosia, and Yorkshire Pudding.”

It’s the least you could do.

And let’s not forget dessert! The “Cakes” section opens with the following fanfare:

“We now proclaim you as a member of the Society of Cake Artists! And do hereby vest in you all the skills, knowledge, and secrets of the “gentle art” of cakemaking.”

The first rule of the Society of Cake Artists is
don’t talk about the Society of Cake Artists.

And while whipping up those cakes, keep in mind:

“A butter icing is like a favorite cotton dress ... simple and easy to put on.”

Not this kind of dress...

Let’s move on to Main Dishes...

“Poorly made main dishes have come to have a bad reputation, especially as a substitute for meat."

[Forced smile] I know it’s not steak, but I’ll forgive you. This time.

Frankly, this cookbook is an embarrassment. It makes no recognition of or advice for women working outside the home. It is a useful resource to bolster the arguments in favor of the women’s rights movement, a movement that is still being fought today.

But I can’t address that right now. It’s 10:56 p.m., and I have to put on my cotton dress and start preparing tomorrow’s three course dinner for my husband and children, or they’ll come down with Ebola or something.

I think I need one of those Brandy Cappuccinos.


dtgillette said...

Thanks for the laugh! Love you! (I have about 4 of my grandma's old cookbooks too from 1952...too funny)

Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress said...

Man, this just really makes me want to learn to cook even more. There was that one time I almost burned down my kitchen trying to make spaghetti. Hmm...maybe I was on to something. No kitchen= not being hassled by embarrassing cookbooks.

Mom101 said...

This may be about the best post title I've read in a long time. Thank you. Oh, thank you.