I've recently found and fallen in love with the blog Orangette. The photos, excellent writing and passion for good food make it an exquisite treat. In today's post she was talking about ritual for the changing of the seasons and an old cook book that reads as she puts it, "like a lullaby." It was from simpler times when there was lots of hard work, few luxuries but plenty of good food and the author fills it with stories and memories that enhance the recipes.
It gave me the idea to use some of my vintage cookbooks in a new art series. All of my paintings are meant to explore hidden qualities in those around us. Reading someone's recipe collection sure tells you alot about them.
Both a close family friend and my grandmother left me their recipe collections when they died. Ten years later, I was looking through the recipe collection and I felt that I knew Mabel, that family friend in a way I never could have as a child. She loved gormet food, even though she grew up on a farm in a very small Canadian town. Most people in the area, in her era (1930's) ate only meat and potatoes and pepper was the most exotic spice. She had recipes from famous restaurants in San Francisco and New York where she had travelled. She had an ethnic recipe collection as well. She sure didn't fit the mold! In that little town spaghetti would have been too strange to eat.
Mable was famous for her baklava. Her filo dough didn't come out of a package, but she hand rolled it until it was transparent. Her pantry had exciting things like orange and rose water in pretty bottles. She had a moussaka recipe that is the ultimate in comfort food. I can just see this strong, but soft woman come to life again. Mabel's recipe cards are really gritty. Full of grease and stains, and hurried messy writing. Another clue, I think. I've enclosed some of the images from both of their recipe collections. They will make for great collage material. Everything is from the 1930's even though my grandmother's era was more the 1950's.