***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 flukes.***

It’s falling apart on the inside as well as the outside.


Glam as the recipe testers must have been with their pre-WWII careers, their matching handbags & pumps, their wasp-waists & Veronica–style tresses,

their souls were surely clawing ceaselessly to escape the gaping maw of the dark within. At least, that is, if the frantically cheerful, culinarily delusional &/or creepily suggestive headnotes are any indication. In all 3 categories:

Barbecued Pork Chops (& by “barbecued,” they of course mean oven- baked with ketchup)

Tri-Meat Roll-Up (4 if you count the bacon! Love the garnish of whole onions)

In the generation-gap category: Tuna mousse is doubtless “tops with high-schoolers” (oh, kids today & their fish-pulp)! In the zonked-out-Stepford-Wives category: Shrimp-orange salad’s “pretty, fresh-tasting, and a company puzzler.” (Because everything’s hard to figure after a few highballs. “Jeepers, am I one zozzled tootsie, or is this salad some kind of trick?) In the no-cuisine-please-we’re-American category: “Lemon gives lamb a chickeny taste and color!” In the “gee,-I-hope-you-didn’t-go-to-any-trouble-on-my-account” category: Hawaiian ham “has that just-made-for-you look guests go for!”


One can only sigh dreamily to picture the editorial meetings around a tableful of auburn-coiffed, milk-skinned dames moving from purrs to shrieks, the skeletons of one another’s hubbies dancing in their mental closets all the while.