***Part of a semiregular series about my findings at the Margaret Husted Culinary Collection—a remarkable, undersung cookbook archive whose 1000s of specimens run the gamut from serious historical finds to quirky treats like this.***

In all its exotic mystery, the cover of Trade Winds Cookery: Tropical Recipes for All America by Norma A. Davis (not to be confused with Nelson_alice2 )

naturally caught my eye, filling me with urgent questions: What’s that native girl doing on an 8’x8′ island with a bunch of groceries? How did she get there? How long can she stand like that? Shouldn’t someone send for help (like maybe the guy who drew her picture from the deck of his passing yacht or something, the heartless bastard)? Etc.


The recipes didn’t disappoint, equally lush with illogic. Take the caviar ice cubes from, uh, Santo Domingo. Because when you think “sturgeon eggs,” the republic that comes to mind is the Dominican one, right? Or, okay, Soviet, close enough. At any rate, what a clever idea, eh, freezing caviar with a little onion & lime juice in a tray so you can pop a cube or 2 into a nice cold glass of boutique vodka?

Oh, wait. The cubes go on a plate with buttered toast points. Of course—why didn’t I think of that? After all, what’s a party without some stickless fish-egg popsicles & soggy croutons? (Seriously, am I missing something?)


For the record, I actually made some with tobiko, minced onion & lemon juice, thinking they’d make a good snack out of a shot of my fave bison-grass vodka. Here’s what they look like in one of the tarantula-print candleholders the Director mistook for bar glassware when he bought them (speaking of lush illogic, especially since we use them all the time). Here’s what they taste like—what they are, which is good if you don’t mind bottoming up the dregs of piscine ova. (Hey, waiter, there’s a flying fish fetus in my booze.)


Another startlingly dreamy-sounding recipe that I haven’t made yet:


Avocado is a fruit, after all, used to make ice cream & smoothies the equatorial world over. Mashed with sugar, chocolate liqueur & a little citrus for balance, it’d make a fine dessert indeed—although I’d think seriously about substituting Amarula or Kahlúa for crème de cacao, just to up the intrigue a little.

Really, the book’s full of such breezy, balmy attention grabbers, from fried grapefruit


to this:


Should some enterprising reader be inclined to test any of the above, I’d welcome a guest post.