Thursday, February 14, 2008

In the Sweet Pie and Pie

Ruth Berolzheimer was the head of the Culinary Arts Institute in Chicago from the 1940s on, and her cookbooks were still being reprinted in the 1980s. There are loads of hard and softcover books from the Culinary Arts Institute around and they are just wonderful. I have a couple of three ring binders entitled "Cooking Magic" that were made to hold your collection of CAI booklets, and the American Woman's Cookbook (which went through many editions - mine are from 1951 and 1961).

I was lucky enough to find, about a year ago, a 1941 booklet by Ms. Berolzheimer entitled 250 Delectable Desserts - though on the inside title page it has become 250 Tempting Desserts. The desserts are quite nice, pretty much traditional charlottes, cakes, steamed puddings as well as modern concoctions requiring a refrigerator. She uses the word "fluffy" a great deal, and there is a large section of the book devoted to sauces. But aside from the odd marriage of ingredients (such as in Banana Lime Dessert) it makes for pleasant reading. (I like to read my cookbooks more than I really use them - or rather, the ones I use tend to be modern and of the vegetarian persuasion).

What I wanted to share was the Introduction to all the tempting and delectable desserts. It reads, in part:

As a nation we Americans consume more sweets in every form than any other group in the world - and that is a tribute, not a criticism. We need more sugar, because individually and collectively we move faster and farther than any other national group. Sugar in every form is what feeds that dynamic energy.

Too much sugar may, of course, be dangerous but so also was the vogue a few years ago of cutting down the sugar consumption, especially of growing children.

That sounds like a lot of running around, doesn't it? As if everyone was dashing here and there frantically like the Three Stooges. Who come to think of it acted like they had had too much sugar, most of the time.

Ruth B. goes on to say that moderation in everything is a good idea, but - didn't she just say we all need lots and lots of sugar? I found this really strange and fascinating - we eat lots of sweet stuff because we are so energetic and dynamic. We were just about to enter the war in 1941 (in December of that year), and I guess were going to need more energy for that. But the wartime cookbooks tell us how to conserve sugar and fat and make eggless, butterless, milkless raisin cake (which is really good, by the way).

I once read something in a 1950s Life magazine, a candy bar ad I think, talking about how we all needed loads of sugar for energy. Funny how sugar was not seen as a culprit then but something you required. Of course Ms. Berolzheimer and the candy manufacturers did have an interest in people eating sweets, so there's that as well.

Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day to all of you who like it, and those of you who don't care for it, have a nice Thursday. I recommend extra dark chocolate in either case - not as much, er, sugar as there is in the milky chocolate - and all the health benefits as well. If Ruth Berolzheimer was writing now, she'd be all over the extra dark chocolate, I'm sure.

Appropriately Valentine-like dessert image from the Introduction page. Title from 1941 Three Stooges short.

1 comment:

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That is the funniest thing I have ever read! So amazing how things change is so few years! Amazing!

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