Will Rogers leans on the kitchen table
In 1931 the Beverly Hills, Calif., Woman's Club published a cookbook titled ``Fashions In Foods in Beverly Hills.'' Because the Hollywood movie colony then was sparkling with legendary stars, the recipes were from the kitchens of glamorous household names. Will Rogers was enlisted to write the preface. This excerpt reveals a man in search of a good meal.
What am I doing in the book? I have the right of any wronged stomach to be here; I am here to assist my fellow man from having to eat some of the things that I have had to eat during the past. When you have helped to raise the standard of cooking, you have helped to raise the only thing in the world that really matters anyhow. We only have one or two Wars in a lifetime, but we have three meals a day. There is nothing in the world that we do as much of as we do eating. Even sleeping don't start to compare with it. There is only one recipe for sound sleeping, that's a comfortable seat and a poor picture, or a political speech.
Now the little Almanac of calories that follows will give you the ingredients of about all the different combinations that have been worked out with food as a background. Some of these were stumbled onto accidentally by reaching on the wrong shelf. A great many of the best ones in here were not premeditated. Cooking is a good deal like Jokes - there are only seven original ones, and it takes a lot of scrambling 'em up to get something that sounds or tastes different. To be a good cook you got to be either naturally an experimenter, or just clumsy.
The French have a reputation for good cooking when it's only a reputation for Camouflage that they deserve. They can hide more ordinary food under some kind of sauce, and by the time you dig through the sauce, your palate is in no mood to recognize the original Goat meat hiding under the sauce. They can put a liquid overcoat, and non-pronounceable name, on a slice of horse meat and have an American wondering if it's breast of veal or Angel food cake. It's that gravy those [French] pour on there that does the dirty work. They are just naturally sauce hounds. And over there the Government decorates men for dishing up food in such a way that no one knows what it is. Cooking is not a necessity with them, it's an Art. And that's what these good Women of this Club (well, I guess we got maby some good Women that are not in the Club), but it's the ones in the Club that I am telling you of now. I am just going to tell you ``how to read the book'' to get the most out of it. This is not an introduction; it's another recipe.
First you get hungry. This is no book for a satisfied stomach. The hungrier you get the better the book will appear. Naturally as you get hungry you start imagining, imagining what you would love to have to eat. When you get your mind set on just about what you would rather have than anything else in the World to eat why you turn to that particular page of the book where that particular type of food is advertised and there will be the prescription for that very dish that you have been craving to devour. Any kind of ration you can think of, some member of this club thought of before you did, cause we got plenty time out here to think, and you will find a plot of it right in this directory. Now I don't know how it's going to taste to you, for no two people have the same taste, and besides I don't know how you are going to mix it - no two people mix things the same. Teacups are not always the same size, different hens lay different eggs, naturally. What you would call a ``heaping teaspoonful'' some stingy person might take for a saucerful. But if you follow the general directions in here you will land somewhere in the neighborhood of what our good Lady intended. If you haven't got all the ingredients, don't let that worry you. For in all these we have naturally allowed some leeway, and you can use something else. You won't get exactly what she was driving at, but you may get an improvement. Now take bread. I think it was H.G. Wells or maybe it was Brisbane who said, ``Bread is the staff of life.'' Some of it is, and some is just an obituary notice. Now in here we tell you where to buy good bread. Study this little catalogue and meet your husband every week-end when he drops in. Meet him with one of these prepared little antidotes, try 'em on him and then study him. There is an old Long Beach Proverb that reads, ``The way to a man's stomach is through his eyes.'' Now we have some beautiful dishes in here, in fact some of 'em are better if you just make 'em and look at 'em, they are too good to eat. As I said before, eating is the biggest thing we have. You can talk disarmament, Ramsay MacDonald, Hoover's fishing, and all that, but it's eating that's keeping us here. So if these good Ladies can help the world to better food, they will have performed a true service to everybody and a giant blow to indigestion.