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OP: The Gun Club Cook Book

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by Charles Browne

Charles Browne (1875–1947) identifies himself on the title page as “The sometime mayor of Princeton; one time member of Congress; A.M., M.D., and some other things, but primarily interested in cookery.” The latter much to our benefit. 

The Gun Club Cook Book (1930) originated with Princeton’s Nassau Gun Club, started shortly after World War I. Within a few years its shooting competitions (of clay pigeons) came to be supplemented, first with luncheons and eventually with dinners, both enhanced by congenial beverages and, of course, much good talk. 

The Cook Book ensued, compiled from those companionable meals, and was published by the aristocratic, Princeton-linked firm of Scribners in 1930. It is introduced as having been prepared “for amateurs by amateurs, no attempt [being] made to describe the alluring confections of the French cuisine or the artistry of the professionals—we couldn’t and we shouldn’t and we don’t.”

Offered in an arch but definitely good-humored fashion, the book opens with chapters on cooking methods, meals and meal planning, including many epic menus, all well worth attention. Following these is a host of recipes for the various courses and ingredients, ranging from hors d’oeuvres to pastries and desserts, with stops along the way for a chapter gloriously entitled “Neither Fish nor Fowl: Turtles, Tripe and Terrapins; Snappers, Snails and Whales; Calves’ Heads, Frogs’ Legs and Alligator Tails; Chop Suey and Foreign Concoctions.”

A book to be read as much as to be cooked from—witty, informative, appealingly partnering naivete and sophistication. And all of this is accompanied by the clever, mischievous drawings of Leonard Holton. [A word of warning, however: The drawings contain some racist and sexist caricaturing.]

Our revised second edition (1931) bears few changes to the original, save for error corrections and the addition of a much-appreciated index. It is in Very Good condition, though sans the jacket, scarce in any edition. The case shows light rubbing. The front and rear pastedowns are stained from the adhesive darkening through, and a previous owner’s name is penned on the front end paper.

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