OP: Some Favorite Southern Recipes of the Duchess of Windsor
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Scribner's, 1942. Hardcover. Very Good in Very Good Minus jacket. First printing.
In 1936 a new king abdicated his throne for the love of a woman without whom he could not bear the burden of the crown. The woman in question, Pennsylvania-born, Baltimore-raised Wallis Warfield Simpson (1896–1986), was twice-divorced, thus creating a constitutional crisis for her beloved, the head of the Church of England, King Edward VIII.
Having altered the course of history (likely for the better, given their Nazi sympathies), the couple lived in luxurious exile between France and the United States. Unburdened by obligations to family or crown, they shone brightly as socialites, frequently hosting glorious parties for the elite.
One might not expect a person keenly identified with the phrase “one can never be too rich or too thin” to be an enthusiastic participant in kitchen endeavors, especially someone of her stature, but the Duchess was so well-known for her cooking that some of her enemies sneered at her “funny little hobby.” Wherever she happened to be entertaining, she advocated for American dishes to be on the menu, even if they were prepared by staff unfamiliar with them.
In 1942, the Duchess produced a cookbook of the simple southern recipes of her upbringing, the proceeds of which would be donated to the British War Relief Society. She enlisted Eleanor Roosevelt to write the foreword.
Gumbo, pilau, spoon bread, corn pone, terrapin, and plenty of crab, of course, are among the nearly 140 recipes, but we suspect the thrill of eating like the world’s most (in)famous duchess had a greater appeal than any notions of authenticity.
Our copy is the very scarce first printing, the copyright page bearing the Scribner’s A. The later Gramercy edition is somewhat more obtainable, but the quality of paper stock is certainly inferior, making the original the more desirable and durable option. This copy is Very Good; the blue clothbound case shows sun fading and a small stain. The endpapers are darkening from the adhesive below. The jacket is chipping about the edges and missing some paper; otherwise shelfworn and showing a one-inch closet tear to the front.