Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Another Reason I Love Old Cookbooks

Oh, I do love me some old cookbooks. As in used cookbooks. As in well-used cookbooks. You know the type. The ones that open naturally to certain pages, because those were the favorite recipes. The ones that have stains and spatters on them.

Often, old cookbooks have special gifts inside: extra recipes! Sometimes, clipped out of newspapers and magazines. Sometimes, they’re handwritten—either on the pages, or on a separate sheet and stuck within the leaves of the book. Sometimes, they’re even typed.

This cookbook came from an acquaintance of mine—an elderly friend and work associate who, after her husband passed away, gave up independent living and had to downsize. They loved books! She was closer friends with my dad, and she offered this cookbook to him, and he gave it to me.

Did you know I didn’t yet have a copy of The Joy of Cooking? Anyway, I have one now—it’s the 1962 edition. Full of good information.

Anyway, here’s the part I wanted to share with you: It seems that, at some point, my friend and her husband were planning a party—probably more, but at least one—and she tucked candidate recipes into a nice little envelope labeled, logically enough, “Party.” What a surprise! I thought, “Oh, boy, I wonder what’s in here!”

Inside, she kept a trove of snacky-type recipes: a shrimp-and-dressing preparation, a cheese log with California walnuts, cheese and mushroom canapés, ham and cheese roll-ups, drunken meatballs (they’re simmered in a mixture of ketchup and beer; I can just hear her chuckling; the idea must’ve tickled her), shrimp and crab Louis, seviche, and a special pastry crust, for use in quiches, that has Parmesan, cayenne, and dry mustard in it. She'd clipped that one out of the paper using pinking shears.

And finally, the best one of all: a recipe for paté: PATE.

She typed it out herself; but then, apparently after she’d made the recipe, she added the final note. Anyone who’s used an actual typewriter can appreciate how the type wavers drunkenly at the bottom of a slip of paper when you get too far down, as the paper slides around, no longer held by the roller. This adds to the hilarity.

Here it is. Read and enjoy.

Then, um, reread the first line.

Then, reread the comment at the bottom. And reread it again:

“This makes much more than anybody would ever want. I make half.”

Of course, you know what happened: she made the recipe as specified—once—and after the party, she and her husband were left with a pound and a half of liverwurst spread they felt they ought to eat, but probably ended up throwing out. (Ew, just the thought: spoiled liverwurst!) . . . Thus, the addendum at the bottom of the recipe. So deadpan: Much more than anybody would ever want.

No, I’m never going to make this recipe—I have better recipes for braunschweiger balls. (But Aunt Becky, where did you get this recipe, and why does it make so much?!)

But if I did make it, I would indeed halve the recipe!