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A GOOD COOKBOOK is like a good travel guide. If it was worth visiting a century ago, it’s likely worth a visit today. If it was tasty 50 years ago, it’s likely still delicious. And so it is with the Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vols. 1 through 12, all 2063 pages of it.
Published 50 years ago, the Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery includes everything from Acorn Squash to Zwieback. The WDEoC (abbreviated from here on to save Internet bytes) also offers 100 Suggested Menus, an 88-page Index of its recipes, 150 Ways to be a Better Cook and numerous other ideas on all matters culinary.
I prefer the WDEoC to the Internet for several reasons: Granted, each is random-access, searchable and wireless. However, my WDEoC never runs low on batteries. It’s easily portable to where I do my cooking. And I haven’t had a disaster yet from any of its recipes.
There is, perhaps, a minus side: It is cookery as perceived in the mid-1960s and, thus, isn’t always health food by today’s standards. Yet the WDEoC is a far cry from a restaurant on a Midwest toll road.
The WDEoC comes from to a progressive mid-1960s. What about Sashimi? Or Rempejek Katjang (Crisp Peanut Fritters) to accompany your Kerie Kambing (Indonesian Lamb Curry)? Or, for this time of year, Gallina Rellena (Stuffed Turkey, Southwestern Style) preceded by Chili Pumpkin Soup. Yes, they’re all there.
The WDEoC cites a charming Native American tale of the Great Spirit who came to earth as a woman: “When she arose and walked the land, pumpkins sprang from the ground by her right hand, beans sprang up from her left, and from her footprints in the earth sprang maize.”
The section on American Cookery offers 58 pages of recipes arranged by state, from Alabama Okra Soup to Wyoming Cheyenne Chocolate Cake.
The WDEoC’s Fisherman’s Wharf Cioppino likely launched me on my own fish-and-tomato soup speciality. I retain the shrimp, but swap the clams, crabs, lobster and oysters for calamari and cod.
I bought my WDEoC new back in the 1960s. Amazon is a source today (follow the link in the lead photo). Prices start at around $50. For those who insist on a set without sauce stains, there’s one for $1454.01.
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays, 2016