It’s a lazy rainy weekend. In fact, it has been a lazy rainy weekend for about the last two weeks. I’m ready for some sunshine again. All my “solar” landscape lights last about ten minutes every night now due to lack of a recharge.
Today I finally got back to working on my latest novel and ran short of time, so I just pulled a book off the shelf. I bought this a couple of years ago at, yes, you guessed it, some long forgotten quarter book sale. On the surface, it looks really interesting but there may be a darker layer underneath.
In 1971 women’s liberation was in full swing, but not every woman had quite gotten on the bandwagon. Take Beatrice Vaughn. She put together The Lady’s Aid Cookbook that year and from the look of it, she thought it was still 1950.
It claims to be honoring the women of Lady’s Aid … as if that is an organization. I think that was a term used in the Civil War. By 1971, there were any number of women’s groups, and a lot of them put out their own cookbooks. So, it appears dear Beatrice is honoring the generic concept of women getting together to help their community. That’s fine, but this is a commercial cookbook, what we would call when I worked in publishing a TRADE cookbook. It just pretends to be a little, sorta, kinda, like a community cookbook.
It is dedicated to ” … every woman who has ever peeled a bushel of potatoes for a public supper, baked half a dozen pies for a food sale, then stood on tired feet through a hot August afternoon to sell them …”
See what I mean? What contrite hogwash … even for 1971. I was there, things were moving slowly, but even then I thought things were progressing beyond this level. She took her fifties mentality and found a publisher with fifties mentality and got this cookbook published. Granted, she was maybe behind the times in New England, and she had apparently written a weekly food column in some unspecified publication for a long time, so maybe she was just a little out of touch. Do you think? And although I think the cover is actually pretty cool, the picture exudes the very thing I am talking about. And that “300” overlay on top of the wordy blurb at the bottom, well that’s just irritating.
Okay, I’m probably being contextually hard on her. There are some interesting recipes in the book, and the book does have a certain charm with anecdotes taken, I assume, from reader reports.
Still, she claims to be honoring women by collecting their many recipes she’s encountered over the years going to these many “ladies aid” events, yet she gives few, if any, credit for the recipes. And there is really strange artwork too …
For instance, above some pork recipes … I mean, what is that supposed to mean? Is that pig in heaven? Is that Arnold? … or is it Babe’s great-great-great-great grandfather? Really strange stuff like that is peppered throughout the book. 1970s publisher clip art I guess.
For a sample recipe, I’ve chosen a “French Pork Pie” … not sure what makes it French. Couldn’t be the catsup, … the Tabasco sauce maybe? Ah, Louisiana French … N‘est-ce pas?
We’ll give old Beatrice a B+ for effort and a C- for cultural awareness. It would be a failing grade in today’s world but in 1971 I make it a C-.
I’ve been writing these for a little over two weeks now, every day. Because of the impact on my “other” writing, namely the sequel to my recently published novel, The Fever, I am thinking of dropping to three days a week. What do you think? Is that okay? I’m having fun and my readership, small as it is, is steadily growing. Leave a comment and let me know.