Jacqueline Winspear said The Care and Management of Lies was inspired by a book she found, one that was published in 1911. The novel began when she found a dogeared copy of The Woman's Book, a book about household management covering topics including cooking, children, business, and dress. Today, I want to share the 1950s version of that type of book. When I was home a week ago, my mother pulled out a more than dogeared copy of Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. The first edition came out in 1947. The edition I now own came out in 1955.
As Winspear pointed out, cookbooks say so much about our society. Take the creed. Have you seen a creed in any recent cookbook? Here's "The Family Hostess' Creed" from this book.
"Happy family relationships are part of my responsibility; therefore - I will save enough energy to do the job of being a happy and helpful hostess to my family day after day.
"My family's satisfaction with my table setting and service is my responsibility; therefore - I will manage my linens and other equipment, my method of work, and enlist the assistance of my family to the end that the table shall be clean and beautiful and the service easy and dignified.
"My family's satisfaction with their food is my responsibility; therefore - I will mange so that foods shall come to the table in their prime condition developed by previous care in selection, preparion and cooking.
"Enjoyment of each other and of their food is an important part of successful family life; therefore - I shall use intelligence, skill and love in serving food to my family."
I have to say my mother laughed when I read her this section from her cookbook.And, I told her that is says a homemaker's social responsibility is represented by the slogan, "Every woman a hostess to her own family". And, maybe she read some of those segments, and not just the recipes when she first had the book. But, I don't think she every took the section seriously about serving because it mentions serving "If there is a maid" and "If there is no maid."
Why did I decide to talk about this cookbook today? Because I'm happy to have a piece of cultural history in my hands. It does have good recipes, as evidenced by my mother's cooking. But, it also shows us where we came from as women. And, I'll treasure this as part of cultural, and family, history.
Do you have a cookbook or book that means our cultural history to you?
Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. J.G. Ferguson and Associates. 1947, 1955.