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OP: The Stag Cook Book and Favorite Recipes of Famous Women (2 vols)

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by C. Mac Sheridan and Florence Stratton

These two volumes fall into the category of celebrity recipe anthologies that anticipated interest purely for the name-dropping within. 

The Stag Cook Book (1922) stands out with contributors that are still recognizable and notable 100 years later. We could call out John Philip Sousa’s pelotas a la Portuguese; John Harvey Kellog’s macaroni with cheese—containing cottage cheese, boiled eggs, and no bechamel to speak of; Houdini’s deviled eggs; or Charlie Chaplin’s steak and kidney pie, the procedure for which will certainly raise an eyebrow or two.

The contributors to Favorite Recipes of Famous Women (1925), unfortunately, are largely identified by their husband’s names and often more reliant on his notoriety than their own: Mrs. [Cristina] Henry Ford offers a winter strawberry shortcake; Mrs. [Mina Miller] Thomas Edison—further reduced to “wife of electrical genius”—contributes a cheese soufflé; Mrs. Edna Woolman Chase (bearing her own name!), then editor of Vogue, presents a cranberry pie; and Mrs. [Grace] Calvin Coolidge offers a pineapple salad.

What tickles us about the two books, and why we are offering them together, is that the latter was written, apparently, in retaliation to the former—perhaps an early example of trolling for those sociologists keeping score. The dedication page in Stag petulantly states: 

“Dedicated to that great host of bachelors and benedicts alike who have at one time or another tried to ‘cook something’; and who, in the attempt, have weakened under a fire of feminine raillery and sarcasm, only to spoil what, under more favorable circumstances, would have proved a chef-d’oeuvre.” 

As some of our samples might suggest, these men, left to their own devices, did not always produce dazzling results.

Journalist and historian Florence Stratton’s foreword to Famous Recipes begins, “I am going to be frank with you…I purchased a cook book, and took it home…It was the assembled recipes of noted men of this country. I took the compiled ignorance of the intellectuals of America and went singing to my kitchen to indulge my gustatory proclivities…” 

What follows is a tongue-in-cheek description of Stratton’s attempt at executing silent film actor Thomas H. Ince’s recipe for halibut in Stag, which proved to be so inedible that she fed it to the dog for whom she gave a “military funeral” the next day as a result. 

We might have more success cooking from Favorite Recipes, but we simply delight in the pettiness we find between the two. Our copies of both are Very Good first printings, sans dust jackets. We have had the endpapers replaced in Stag to secure the binding, and the mustard yellow case is slightly discolored and stained with a rubbed spine. There is a penciled gift inscription and ownership blind stamp to the original front endpaper. Favorite Recipes shows age stains but is otherwise sturdy and crisp. Good fun.

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