The Wife gets agida when my father says that he brought something he found to me. To her, this means that my father found some crap around his house and is bringing it to
her our house, where I will procrastinate about/forget to throw it away. She gets riled because there is more clutter, and rightfully so. I think she gets quietly mad that I just leave it sitting on the dining room table in perpetuity. Nonetheless, she wasn’t pleased.
Until, of course, I opened the bag of goodies. It was a bagful of old cookbooks. And, I don’t just mean 1980s era Betty Crocker, either. We’re talking a well-used first edition of Rene Verdon‘s The White House Cookbook (Side note: Verdon was JFK’s chef at The White House.) and the 1931 edition of The Art of Cooking & Serving by Sarah Field Splint. The jewel, though, was the 1973 cookbook published by The Society of St. Therese at Our Lady of Pompeii church in Syracuse.
The latter was more entertainment than functional. This treasure was packed full of garbage: meat cabbage casserole, crab molds using gelatin, Jewish apple cake (Side note: It was offered by an Italian woman. No kosher products were used. We can’t tell why it’s Jewish. My guess is that a Jewish friend of this woman gave her the recipe.), and my favorite, a recipe for City Chicken that doesn’t actually use chicken. I’m pretty sure that the reason why men during this time period always looked so miserable was because the food their wives fed them.
The others were very formal, very proper cookbooks. Verdon gave glimpses into his life as the Kennedy family’s cook. Splint offered tips of the time period about how your main should dress and why men relished cooking Sunday night supper. It was pretty sweet.
Over the next few weeks, mostly for my own entertainment, I’m going to offer up a few of the hidden gems in these books. It might be a recipe. It might be a passage from Splint’s book. Either way, it will be something from a time long ago where Spry was a noun, not just a verb.