The Soup Lady has cookbooks that span many decades. They are a window to other times and reflect lifestyles that don’t exist anymore, except in classic cinema.
I have two versions of The Joy of Cooking. The first one is a set of two paperbacks published in 1964. I took these with me when I set up my first apartment. I don’t know what I was thinking- maybe I would be hostessing glamorous soirees and would need to know how to make Rolled Asparagus Canapes or Veal Prince Orlaf. (Although it was in this period that I used a recipe to make an appetizer out of cold brussel sprouts stuffed with deviled ham. I am still knocking socks off with that one.)
I always meant to get the hard cover version of the book, so appealing with its red ribbon page marker and gold embossed cover. Now I have it – what a bust! Revised by the son-in-law of the author of the previous edition and printed in 1997, it is almost a completly different book. And none the better for it.
The chapters are basically the same, except for the removal of Canning, Salting, and Smoking and the insertion of Grains, Beans and Tofu, but the content illustrates how our focus has changed. In the chapter called Entertaining, the older version advises this: “If you must rely on indifferent service, or your harrassed cook is trying to pinch-hit as a waitress, consider serving the main course yourself.” The new version says: “Don’t over do it.” The Salad section in both books cover 42 pages, but while 1964 is busy with Roquefort Slaw Dressing and German Hot Potato Salad, 1997 gives us sixteen different vinaigrettes.
For soup, the new edition is all but useless, with the possible exception of Roasted Red Pepper Soup and Pappa Al Pomodoro (Tusacan
Bread and Tomato Soup). But , oh! from 1964: Chestnut Soup, Potage au St. Germaine, Bouillabaisse.
But the jewel in the crown is The New American Cookbook by Lilly Haxworth Wallace, 1941. Ah, the soups we shall soon see from here: Cranberry Soup, Wine Soup, Cream of Almond Soup, Philadelphia
Pepper Pot, Drunken Crab Bisque.
Aside from the intriguing recipes, the amount of infomation contained in the book is astonishing. The stench of junior high Home Ecomonics hangs heavy here as the difference between a hot oven and a quick oven is explained. And in the chapter called Equipment For a Kitchen, comes this:
The Principal Steps of the Meal Serving Routine
1. assembly and preparation of raw food
4. clearing away
6. putting away and cleaning up
This section is further subdivided into equipment used in each catagory, i.e.: Articles Used in Puting Away and Cleaning Up
1. paper towel rack
2. sink brush
3. stove brush
4. floor brush
6. long-handled mop and pail
8. long-handled scrub brush
9. oil mop
10. dry mop
11. 6 floor cloths
12. roller towels
There are entire chapters devoted to Pickling and Carving and this, written in all earnestness:
Scientific Feeding Simplified
“The clever homemaker should know that her meals do more for her family than satisfy hunger and please tastes. If she does her task well, she is amply recompensed when she sees healthy complexions, strong teeth, happy smiles and unimpaired vigor and vitality. Her well-done dietary work also pays huge dividends in the form of smaller doctor’s bills, in less frequent colds and minor ailments, in sunny dispositions, and in vigorous mental reactions.”
The Soup Lady endorses this position and strongly recommends that you all pay close attention to it.
*There is now available a reprinted editon of the Original Joy : The Joy of Cooking: A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat written in 1931 by Irma Rombauer, the mother and grandmother of the subsequent authors.This one is a doozy, and is right up the Soup Lady’s alley. The cover art depicts St. Martha of Bethany, the patron saint of cooking, slaying the dragon of kitchen drudgery.
Note the elegantly lifted arm holding the coordinating pocketbook out of harm’s way. Ya gotta love it. The Soup Lady will simply die if she doesn’t get this for Christmas.
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