“To the housewives of the world no tribute can be too great–no compliment can be too generous. They hold in their hand the health and progress of the family and thus, to a great extent, control the destiny of the world.” —–The Mystery Chef
Is that Mao behind the mask? Or maybe it was Goebbels? Sounds like the Mystery Chef wants to conquer the world with the help of Davis Baking Powder, publishers of this quaint yet outrageous little 1934 booklet. If the cover were red I’d be really suspicious.
The recipes aren’t outrageous though, and my batch of hot biscuits that I served for Sunday night supper was deliciously mainstream. Flaky, buttery, lightly golden. My husband thought he was in the wrong house. Homemade biscuits just never happen here. Until today :
I now officially love this publication because of all the extra advice, commentary and photos that make it a total hoot to read. Here’s a sample in case you’re not convinced:
–Back Cover: “I use Davis Baking Powder exclusively because I know it is pure and dependable. As you know, it has been accepted by the American Medical Association.” Whew, that’s a relief.
–Tips on Burnt Food (Ooops!): “Do not put any water into anything that has been burnt because this will immediately carry the burnt taste into all of your food in the pot.” Good to know, actually. But wait, there’s more: “The fact that the food has become burnt is proof that no liquid is there……” The entry goes on to offer specific food rescue tips for all those high temp disasters, like burned applesauce and potatoes. Accidents will happen.
–And my personal favorite: A Table Decoration “Just run a wire with one socket to the center of the table, put in one electric light bulb, then under the bulb put two or three pieces of asbestos….” AHHAAHAHAHAH! Wonder where the AMA stands on asbestos on the dining room table? The Mystery Chef went on to describe how once the light bulb was covered with a wire guard and orange crepe paper and embellished with oak and maple leaves scattered on top it will “give you an exact imitation of a small glowing fire.” And don’t we all strive for that bit of realism while we entertain?
—Photos of the Mystery Chef’s home:
Now I’m wondering if the Mystery Chef is Barnabas Collins. Very creepy digs if you ask me. Notice the white bear rug in the forefront.
Truthfully, I can’t stop reading this thing. Right now I’ve skipped through the recipes and am spellbound by the advice on these topics: Coloring Gravy, How to Make Delicious Little Hor D’Oeuvres or Snacks for Suppers or Afternoon Teas, Putting out a Fat Fire, To pick up Broken Glass From the Floor and the essential Washing Dishes. Sounds like he thought all American homemakers were Lucy Ricardo.
I’ll return to the recipes eventually, but for now I’ve got to get back to the advice section. Up next: To Keep the Cream Pitcher From Dripping. Tip–put a little butter on the tip of the spout!! This guy’s great.