Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Found at McKay Books

I found these two charming books yesterday afternoon at McKay. They were a needed antidote for a dreary day. A Taste of Texas is the 1949 Neiman-Marcus cookbook edited by Jane Trahey. There are 300 plus recipes, and all were sent in by the store's customers. And what a surprising group they turn out to be!

Tyrone Power, the actor, sent a recipe for Eggs Benedict. Louella Parsons, the Hollywood gossip columnist, shared her "Spaghetti Roma Deluxe" , a recipe that covers two pages. And earned a pencilled check mark from the person who owned this book.

Not to be outdone by Hollywood, the fashion world sent in their favorites. Miss Parsons was not the only one who liked spaghetti. Elsa Schiaparelli, the flamboyant thirties designer, offered up her "Spaghetti a' la Schiap", which to my eye is simply Spaghetti carbonara by another name. Salvatore Ferragamo, who this book calls a " cobbler couturier", sent a recipe the ladies at Texas State College for Women who tested the recipes for the book could not duplicate because it called for "3 sheets of fish glue". Lily Dache the hat maker, sent "Pate by Dache". The list goes on-Elizabeth Arden, Pauline Trigere, the designer who dressed Patricia Neal in "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

This is the kind of cookbook I love. Antique and annotated by its owner, with recipes on scrap paper and newspaper clippings stuck in among its pages.

The second book, "Alabama, One Big Front Porch," was written by Kathryn Tucker Windham , a story-teller, and a pioneer woman newspaper reporter in Alabama. One story in it is about a custody battle over a meteorite that crashed through a porch and injured Mrs Hewlett Hodges , and then was kidnapped ( the meteorite, not the lady) by either the City Council or the people at Maxwell Air force Base. The Air Force gave the rock back to Mrs Hodges, whose landlady Mrs Guy then claimed it and started more legal wrangling. Back to court, where the law told the Hodges that if and when they sold the meteorite, they had to pay Mrs Guy $500 out of the profit. Mrs Hodges could not dodge the rock, but she did dodge Mrs Guy by giving the meteorite to a museum at the University of Alabama.

Only at McKay Books would I have the luck to find this book. And 8 volumes of Time-Life's The Good Cook, edited by Richard Olney. The Book Fairy must have been whispering in my ear yesterday.

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