P.E.O. Cookbook: Souvenir Edition

David E. Schoonover, Editor
David E. Schoonover, Editor University of Iowa Press $19 (232p) ISBN 978-0-87745-370-3
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This reprint of a 1908 women's society cookbook, the first title in the Iowa Szathmary Culinary Arts series, is the equivalent of a Junior League cookbook published 100 years hence: it is both a curiosity and a cultural artifact. The recipes provide a glimpse of Knoxville, Iowa, at a certain time--well-to-do enough to include nearly a dozen recipes featuring oysters, yet so restrained by the limits of transcontinental transport that no fruit recipes feature pineapples. Reflecting turn-of- the-century America, preparation methods lean toward excess: foods are creamed, escalloped, deep-fried, baked, or served cold with mayonnaise dressing. Above all, the book illustrates the consuming task that cooking was, even in a wealthy community less than a century ago. A simple creamed chicken recipe, for example, required stewing, cooking and chopping a whole chicken and sweetbreads, making a white sauce, then baking both for 20 minutes in a serving dish topped with butter and cracker crumbs--all for a dish that is merely ``nice for luncheons.'' As an original source, the P.E.O. Cook Book will appeal to food historians and, possibly, the wider audience keen on the retro books of Jane and Michael Stern. Louis Szathmary is proprietor of The Bakery, a long-time Chicago restaurant; his vast cookbook collection provided the basis for the series. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
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