Epic Cookbooks of American Foreign Policy and Other Stuff

Or something like that.

1. Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations – by Chris Fair (via Abu Muqawama’s Twitter feed leading to C. Fair’s Twitter feed and so on and so forth….)

2. Pioneer Farm Cooking (Exploring History Through Simple Recipes); Cooking on the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Exploring History Through Simple Recipes)

3. The I Love Lucy Cookbook (Hollywood Hotplates); The Hemingway Cookbook

4. The First American Cookbook: A Facsimile of “American Cookery,” 1796


Chris Kimball had a few friends over for dinner in Boston. The menu included oysters, mock turtle soup, rissoles (fried puff pastry with various sweet and savory fillings), Lobster à l’Américaine, saddle of venison, wood-grilled salmon, fried artichokes, roast stuffed goose and a variety of homemade jellies made using a calf’s foot gelatin. This sounds like pure decadence. But Mr. Kimball, the founder of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and host of “America’s Test Kitchen” on PBS, was trying to re-create a traditional 12-course meal from the famed 1896 edition of Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking-School Cook Book.”

Victorino Matus in the WSJ (via The Weekly Standard)

5 thoughts on “Epic Cookbooks of American Foreign Policy and Other Stuff”

  1. In the divorce, he got his family copy of the “Boston” and I got mine, 7th edition (1941.) His was falling apart, perhaps it was older. I made Fannie’s Canapes Lorenzo and Venison Cutlets with Apples for a little party, once.

    Everything in that book has butter, lard, granular sugar, powdered sugar, corn syrup, molasses, salt, “thick” white sauce, bacon, bacon fat, fat salt pork, bread crumbs, whipping cream, heavy cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, egg yolks, riced potatoes, cornbread, flour, organ meats, cheese and sherry (to enhance the cooking…) Perhaps the entire book is a recipe for “American expansionism,” to tie it in with your theme.

  2. Perhaps the entire book is a recipe for “American expansionism,” to tie it in with your theme.

    Ha! That’s a good way of thinking about it. I confess, I really didn’t have a theme for this post other than old cookbooks are interesting :)

    – Madhu

  3. Madhu,

    My favorite old cook book is Cross Creek Cookery by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I am from the deep South and Rawlings cookbook connects me with my roots. My paperback copy is tattered and well-loved—almost nothing is “good for you” but we’ve enjoyed it just the same.

    Rawlings recipes for bread are worth the price of the book.

    The description above of the Boston cookbook made my mouth water—I’ll get a copy. Thanks!

  4. “American expansionism”

    People did hard physical labor in those days, and they did a lot of walking. They burned a lot of those calories. Also, they were a generation or so off the farm, where they really burned calories. It took a while for people to adapt. When they got a little money, they ate well, as that was understood at the time. I used to work with a group of Black ladies, who were doing data entry but ate the stuff their mothers and grandmothers made, which was meant for people who were doing backbreaking work. They were, inevitably, far too heavy. They would get takeout from some place that a meat entree and three sides. It was great, but I could not eat like that, even in my 20s, for lunch, very often. You could feel your clothes tightening just smelling it. But, damn, it was good.

    The Fannie Farmer cookbook is a favorite. The recipes are simple and good, but fatty by our standards. It is a portrait of old time cooking. My favorite cookbook for its prose is James Beard’s American Cookery. I often flip through it when I am cooking in the kitchen. It is full of anecdotes of cooking and eating from an earlier era. My favorite for actual use is an older version of the Joy of Cooking, which yields good results consistently. But I rarely cook from recipes.

  5. Thanks for the comments J. Scott and Lex. I’ve not traveled much in the South and I need to change that. I’ve got some friends that work at a university in Mississippi and I’ve been meaning to visit. They are Italians who’ve lived all over and they are enjoying the South, they tell me.

    The children’s history-cooking book series has books detailing what Union and Confederate soldiers likely ate, as well as the diet of southern slaves. It is quite humbling and very sad, particularly the slave sections. There are sections on catching frogs and snakes when situations were dire.

    Not a bad history series for grade school students, I think. I wonder if any of our readers have used these books?

    – Madhu

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