Several years ago I started contemplating about all of the many “Cook Books” that my wife has stored in her “Library of Cooking” which occupies a small nook in our kitchen. I wondered: why would a woman married to a man raised on red beans, cornbread, potatoes, chicken fried steak and cream gravy need such an extensive amount of material designed to instruct her in cooking things that keep her man well fed and happy?
Not being able to figure out the reason I decided to do a little investigative research to determine the requirement for what to me was an excessive amount of material. The result of my investigation is as follows:
First, she had a book called The Joys of Cooking given to her in 1948 which contained 823 pages of recipes including those for “left overs”. Then came The American Woman’s Cook Book consisting of 749 pages of recipes written by a woman whose name sounded worse than Bodenhamer.
Also included among these treasures were books on Wok and Fondue cooking; how to cook casseroles, omelets, crepes, appetizers and the magic cooking of the Zeta Tau Alpha’s. Not to be overlooked in this group was a 715 page edition of The Congressional Club Cook Book with foreword by Nancy Reagan informing my cook that her husband might like some of the favorite dishes of our elected officials.
All of these books together with countless cooking pamphlets were backed up by an enormous Encyclopedia of Cookery boasting 1496 pages of recipes.
Upon completing my research I found that she had 34 books on cooking that contained 8572 pages of recipes ranging from every day cooking to something called The Indulgences in Cooking.
There was another book called “Pot Luck Cookery” which I thought might come closer to fitting my country style appetite than those foods for the high and mighty.
At this point in my research we now come to the Index File of recipes kept on 3x5 cards which this dear cook of mine actually uses. Within it are recipes collected through the years from friends and relatives, cut outs from magazines and newspapers as well as recipes copied out of various cook books.
Still perplexed over the immensity of her reference library (which she tells me is small in comparison with others) I said unto my wife: “Wife, why do you have all of these cook books when all you use are the recipes in your card file?”
“Bill” said she, “I look upon those cook books as my hope chest of recipes.”
When asked to explain that statement she replied, “I keep hoping that some day you will want something to eat that calls for a little thought and imagination. Should that time ever come I just want you to know that I have the time, the recipes, the desire and the inclination to cook something besides red beans, cornbread, chicken fried steak and creamy gravy.”
“Oh, that’s a lot of bull” I said, “I think the reason women collect all of those cook books is to show their inclination toward promiscuity.”
“Bill” she cried in horror, “how does promiscuity fit into this conversation about cooking?”
“Very simple” said I, “while the word generally refers to the pleasurable act of “messing around” with one of the opposite sex I use it in this context because I think women get a sense of pleasure from “messing around” with all of those recipes that they will never on earth use.”
In spite of the fact that I place no demands upon this dear cook of mine for high and mighty foods I will have to admit that I am perhaps one the best fed guys in these parts. Guests who dine with us are quick to agree with me that I have the best cook in town and they readily understand why I am reluctant to frequent local restaurants.
She loves to cook and has the ability to turn a simple batch of grits into a lip smacking, mouth watering culinary delight; her magic with a can of sauerkraut creates a dish that would be unrecognizable by most kraut lovers, and, I give her an A Plus and declare her valedictorian in that crucial field of leftovers.
In my pondering through the years about this hangup of most women which is their passionate obsession for cookbooks and recipes, I have often wondered just why this infectious disease was injected into the genes of womanhood. So it was that by sprinkling a little imagination into my pondering I was carried back to the prehistoric times when the first two women on this earth met and started discussing the meals they prepared for their mates. I can just hear one of the women saying to the other “Oh honey just let me tell you the way I have found to cook the hind leg of an Apatosaurs Dinosaur to make it tasty and appetizing”.
Thus it was (as I saw it) that the first food recipe was created and started its passage from family to family and from tribe to tribe. On its journey down through the ages and as family after family added their recipes they became so numerous that by the time writing came into fashion it became necessary to put a collection of recipes together in the form of a book, thereby spawning the birth of cookbooks.
Once the printing press came into being (I am still pondering at this point) cookbooks were well on their way to becoming a fascination and obsession that women have not been able to overcome to the present day.