Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Moment in Food History

Some people collect antique furniture.  Some people are crazy for “vintage” clothing (which is, apparently, the cool way to say “gently used” these days.)  I like old cookbooks.  Shocking, right?  I don’t use cookbooks very often, but I still love to flip through them and see what kind of recipes people loved in the year of the book’s publication.  Finding out what people ate and how they cooked says something very specific about who they were and how they lived.  It’s like a little history lesson, brought to us in cups and teaspoons.

This past week, my friend Beth–who blogs over at Chronic Mom Says— brought this cookbook to my office:

It’s a publication of the Lafayette, Louisiana Service League, and in the inscription on the inside of the front cover, someone offers to teach Beth (who was, she tells me, about four years old at the time) how to make a proper roux.  Clearly a skill every girl child should have mastered by the age of four, at least in 1967.

Given its publication date, the cookbook is packed with recipes for “hot dish” (Turkey Hot Dish, Chicken Hot Dish, Seafood Hot Dish, etc., etc.), but it also includes a few specialties of the region.  For instance:

And, because it’s a cookbook from Louisiana, it includes no less than 16 recipes for preparing crawfish.  Like these:

I never really understood what one might do with the live crawfish I’ve seen at my local grocery store, but now I know.  (Not that this will change my habit of quickly walking by them without looking, lest one of them should wave a helpless little bound claw in my general direction.)

The cookbook also includes party recipes . . .

. . . a few that should probably remain in the past . . .

. . . several that had never once crossed my mind . . .

. . . and, of course  a few I’m excited to try (with some Foodie modifications, naturally):

I’ve spent the past few evenings thoroughly entertained by exploring the world contained inside this cookbook–and giving thanks for the miracle that is packaged chicken breast.


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4 Responses to “A Moment in Food History”

  1. 1

    Denise — August 27, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    Yep, that one’s a family favorite of ours. I have my mom’s original copy, with her markings in it and everything. I use it quite often.

  2. 2

    Cyn Huddleston — August 27, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

    I have a couple of old Texas ones that amaze. They tend to have a lot of German stuff that I remember from there.

  3. 3

    Joe Ramsey — August 28, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

    I am the Chronic Mom’s dad and I got the book from Mr. John Chenet, a retired cajun who spent his life working in the sugar refining business in Louisiana, Mexico, Cuba and South America. He loved to cook and he invited me to his home in Brownsville where I had just started working to fix me a good cajun meal. My lack of cooking skill moved him to give me the cook book and the inscription was for Beth to get a start at good food and cooking in spite of her father. Fond memories of good friend and good food. joe

  4. 4

    Chronic Mom — August 28, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

    Can’t wait to see what you decide to try!

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