Who’s Who in the Kitchen (1960s Nation’s Capital Edition) is an annotated edition of a book that was called “Just plain fun” by Lucille Ball in 1964 and was a staple among visitors to Washington D. C. during the cherry blossom season. Who’s Who in the Kitchen was a popular book among visitors to Washington D. C. in its day, available in all of the hotels and tourist destinations in the nation’s capital and outer environs.
From the beginning this book caught our eye. So we obtained the rights, then annotated and reprinted these homespun recipes to enhance the perspective they provide on some of the biggest names of history from the exciting and turbulent era of 1960s Washington through the food they ate.
Unlike a common cookbook, Who’s Who in the Kitchen does not resort to recipes made by family cooks or mimeographed for the public. That’s because the original publisher envisioned the book not just for his personal profit, but also for the military support organization known as the Gold Star Wives.
In those days it was usually the mother, wife, sister or grandmother who retained the most cherished family recipes, either written down or in their heads. Since most of the individuals in Who’s Who in the Kitchen have now passed on, and some of these recipes were memorized by those are no longer among us, there is little doubt that this book may be the only written repository in many cases.
Since members of the Gold Star Wives were well connected socialites and friends with governors, senators, congressmen, generals, and the occasional Hollywood celebrity who liked to flit around the corridors of power, they were given trusted access to the family recipes. They knew the wives, mothers, or sisters of the Washington power elite and in many cases they themselves were part of that elite class. When they were asked to only provide true, personal recipes — the kinds of things their mother, wife or they themselves made on their own as a favorite, they complied. The donation to the Wives’ military support activities was a worthwhile cause and sealed the deal for those releasing these family heirlooms.
And that is the key: because of the sense of duty to assist the Gold Star Wives, many of whom were friends of the individuals in the book, the recipes you see in this book are all 100% authentic and even come with personal annotations found nowhere else. Douglas Fairchild Jr., who socialized occasionally with the Georgetown set in his day, is a natural inclusion here and he presents a very simple spaghetti recipe, but closes with his own words: “Yes, it’s simple, but I can eat buckets of it just like Dad did. We lived on it.”
Whether you are a baby boomer who remembers Robert McNamera, Dean Rusk, and Hubert Humphrey (all in the book), or a person who enjoys unusual angles on personages from a very important decade in our nation’s life, Who’s Who in the Kitchen will be a pleasure to browse.
And if that is not enough to click one of the buy buttons below, we send 15% of every sale to charities that invest in helping returning veterans re-enter civil society. So you not only get a fun little book, but you do a bit of good as well!
President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 said on browsing his copy of Who’s Who in the Kitchen: “Never knew that Beef Ragout was made that way, nor that it was Justice Brennan’s Independence Day favorite. I’ll make a point to request it next time we visit. ”
Try making some of these personal recipes for your family for friends, and enjoy the history behind it. Or buy it for fun to leaf through and reminisce about the famed names of the day to study their likes and dislikes. Make it a gift for your baby boomer or histories buff. Whatever the case, here’s a fun gift idea that is both entertaining and useful, yet lets you donate to to a good cause as well.