Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My, how things do change

My grandmother has been slowly dumping old cookbooks on me for a few years now. It's kind of a funny situation because I am very picky about having lots of cookbooks. My parents had a huge number of cookbooks, filled with lovely, fascinating recipes and they never cooked ANYTHING from most of them. I don't want that to happen to me, so I have one shelf of cookbooks. That's it. But so far, most of the ones from my grandmother have managed to claim a coveted spot on that shelf.

Yeah, like I'd throw away all of MFK Fisher, or that old James Beard.

So the one I received yesterday was 'Home at the Range with George Rector", copyright 1939. Rector did a few things with his life - restaurants, a hotel, some film roles as himself - and he writes as though the reader of the book would consider him a household name. He doesn't even have a wikipedia page, now. IMDB has him listed, though.

What fascinated me about the volume is the commentary about his restaurant and food in general. Japanese food was simply derivative of Chinese. Chinese food (as well as some Spanish dishes) was quite complicated, given the number of ingredients. Canned food was indistinguishable from fresh (He suggested a blindfold taste test, like the kind they use for cigarettes). Stock is something everyone would have around the house.

He even touched on seasonality. He lamented the availability of out-of-season items to everyone, because what could restaurants then use to surprise and delight their guests?


Stuff that is in season, maybe?

1 comment:

Madeline said...

I love old cookbooks. I have tons. I love to see where we were at a given time. The fabulousness of a jello mold or the wonder of the microwave. I think it is interesting to see the evolution in relation to technology. The death of the homecooked meal and the slow desire to go back to it. I have too many.