Jell-O and the Kewpies

Jell-O and the Kewpies. New York: American Lithographic Co., 1915.

When I was twelve years old, we moved from a semi-suburban, overwhelmingly Mormon neighborhood to a neighborhood full of hippies. My Jell-O consumption, already shaken by the disappearance of my beloved Jell-O 1-2-3, took a nosedive. Gone were the block parties and […]

Helps for the Hostess

Helps for the Hostess. Camden, NJ: Joseph Campbell Company, 1916.

I was going to begin this post by triumphantly declaring that I didn’t own a single can of Campbell’s soup. But when I went to the kitchen to double-check, I found (of course) a can of cream of mushroom. I […]

Orgies and Other Large Parties

Margolis, Jack S. and Daud Alani. Cooking for Orgies and Other Large Parties. Los Angeles: Cliff House Books, 1972.

I have been known to buy them in moments of weakness, but I don’t really approve of joke cookbooks. I own dozens of cookbooks with barely usable recipes, but I make a distinction […]

“Pickle-Sickles” and Other “Colorful” Treats

Better Homes and Gardens Guide to Entertaining. New York: Meredith Books, 1969.

My favorite book about entertaining is, without a doubt, Elsa Maxwell’s How to Do It, but the Better Homes and Gardens Guide to Entertaining has its moments too. Published in 1969, it covers everything from picking the right guests (“a […]

A Turkey in a Tuxedo

Fobel, Jim. Beautiful Food. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983.

The lacquered lobster on the cover was all it took. I was unable to resist buying Jim Fobel’s Beautiful Food when I found it in a used bookstore several years ago. To its credit (as promised on the jacket), it […]

Child’s Play

Oliver, Michel. La Cuisine Est Un Jeu D’Enfants. Paris: Plon, 1963.

Brief infatuation with From Mr. Bingle’s Kitchen aside (the recipe for fruit pizza was and is awesome), I never had much interest in children’s cookbooks. I was a strictly Better Homes and Gardens kind of girl. (I have a […]

The Best-Feeding Merchant Marine in the World

War Shipping Administration, Food Control Division. Cooking and Baking on Shipboard. Washington: GPO, 1945. 358pp.

The Food Control Division of the War Shipping Administration (the agency that oversaw Merchant Marine ships during WWII) published several books about managing food and cooking while at sea. Though I don’t use it much for recipes […]

Passing the Soup Before Passing Out

Erlanger, Baba and Daren Pierce. The Compleat Martini Cook Book. Illus. Elizabeth Fraser. New York: Random Thoughts, 1957.

My mother barely drinks at all, and while my father does, it’s in a decidedly unglamorous cans-of-bud-lite and jugs-or-sometimes-even-boxes-of-red-wine kind of way. Either because, or perhaps in spite of my upbringing, I’ve always liked the idea […]

Elasticakes and Tennis Chops

Marinetti, Fillippo Tommaso. The Futurist Cookbook. Trans. Suzanne Brill. San Francisco: Bedford Arts, 1989.

Written by F. T. Marinetti, The Futurist Cookbook was published in 1932 in Italy. The book aimed to bring the tenets of Futurism into the kitchen, via “aerofood” served at meals with grandiose names like the “Synthesis of Italy Dinner” […]

Be Bold with Bananas!

Be Bold with Bananas. New York: Crescent Books, [1972?].

Cookbooks that focus on one ingredient are often published by companies with a vested interest in promoting filberts, or mayonnaise, or what have you. According to Amazon, Be Bold with Bananas was produced for Fruit Distributors Ltd, Banana Importers of Wellington, New Zealand. When a […]