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The Theoretical Cook

A FOODY IN THE THIRD WORLD

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Old, secondhand cookbooks















FOOD FUN AND FABLE from Meme on Bon Secour River
a collection of Bon Secour Recipes and interesting tales of the river country
(1965 by Charley and Meme Wakeford. Underwood Printing Company. Foley Alabama)

The Latin Influence

For endless years the savages
Came here on fish to feast
Alone til greedy Spaniards
Sailed from the hungry East

They brought naught but peppers
And appetites like pigs
Except Donna Isabella
Who planted a few figs

Then came a Frenchman, hungry
For gold and fur and food;
But he brought gifts uncounted
And all of them were good

There were onions in his baggage
And wine in the ship's hold,
His manners were quite faultless
And all his cooks were bold

He taught us to make omelettes,
He taught us to make pies,
He gave us subtile flavor,
And the food that pleased the eyes.

From native grapes he made a drink,
From wild ducks pot-a-feu;
He boasted he ate cornbread,
And invented oyster stew

So here's to voyaging Frenchmen
With their food and their liqueur,
May they fare as well in Heaven
As they did in Bon Secour

I happen to think this is a very funny poem. You dont see this in cookbooks anymore - poems. There was a time when cookbooks were churned out by communities for their community's purposes. And you dont see straightforward the Ingredients-Procedure-Comments format, falling under categories such as Meat, Poultry, Fish, Vegetables, Desserts - instead what you see is a community memorabilia of sorts: a little history, some loves stories, and in the case of this Meme cookbook, even 'historical' poems.
There are cookbooks and cookbooks. Since I am not a 'natural cook', I rely a lot on cookbooks. And there are so many cookbooks around. One writer, trying to explain the sheer number of cookbook titles in the US, said that its as if women turn to cookbooks as a way of recovering traditions of hearth and home passed on by mothers to daughters and 'lost' due the women's liberation movement and before that, the fact that this is a nation of migrants (torn from their European roots).

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