Who’s Who in the Kitchen Cookbook (1960s Washington D. C. Annotated Version)
A Different kind of Cookbook: This is a labor of “cookbook lov” that I, as a politics and history junkie, was given by the original publisher to do with as I wished. I added annotations and updates an re-published Who’s Who in the Kitchen because it was just a fascinating book.
When I first opened it, I was expecting the run-of-the-mill “recipes” of the kind usually handed out by press secretaries. Plenty of books like that out there, particularly for modern chefs and recipes. But it wasn’t long before I found that this Who’s Who was anything but run-of-the-mill.
To the contrary: here was the family recipe for Swedish Meatballs in the Robert McNamara family, going back to the former Vietnam-era Defense Secretary’s great grandmother. There was an annotation sent in with the original, by Secretary McNamara’s wife, penned in: “We always had to make enough for 20 people since everyone came back for seconds and even thirds.”
It was the Gold Star Wives organization that went around to the grandmothers and mothers and sisters (mostly, in those days) to get these personal recipes for a book they wanted to sell in hotels and other Washington D. C. tourist spots. Originally it sold in the millions over several years as a souvenir. It raised a lot of money for the Gold Star Wives organization’s charity activities. Today, in the same spirit, we will be donating 25% of the sale price of every copy purchased at the Purple Heart organization.
This version is an edited and annotated “gift” edition of what was a million seller sld in hotels and tourist sites all over Washington D. C. and up and down the east coast, to tourists visiting Washington in the 1960s. And what tourist wouldn’t? The recipes were fascinating, simple.
Many of the politicians and Washington celebrities also included some “legend” or anecdote behind the recipes. For example, Mrs. James Roosevelt, wife of Franklin Roosevelt’s son Congressman James Roosevelt of California, provided the exact recipe passed down from within the Roosevelt family, “Kedgeree”, a simple but much-loved fish and rice recipe that was a President Roosevelt’s favorite. This cookbook tells you exactly how they made it, since it came from Eleanor Roosevelt herself!
“While I don’t know of any anecdote relative to the above recipe, I can say that it was passed on to me by my husband’s mother, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, who said that it was a favorite with her husband and children and was served very often. I trust it will make an interesting addition to your collection.”
There’s Strom Thurmond, U. S. Senator from South Carolina, whose wife Jean provided their own “Barbecued Spareribs” favorite.
There’s Senator James O. Eastland’s “Brunswick Stew”, submitted by his wife Elizabeth O. Eastland (“Wonderful for those unexpected guests”). Chief Justice Earl Warren (of Warren Commission fame) and his wife Nina’s take on the classic Devil’s Food Cake or Mamie Eisenhower’s take on a classic Birthday Cake with a twist the General Eisenhower especially liked.
Many Hollywood stars frequented the Washington Georgetown circuit in the Kennedy and Johnson years or were active in the politics of the day. Many were also active in USO entertainment for American troops. Their recipes are also included, along with all of the U. S. Senators, the senior staff of the armed forces, and most cabinet positions.
The stars of the day offered their family recipes as well. Hedda Hopper, the original Hollywood columnist, offered her Cheese Pie; Ozzie and Harriet Nelson submitted teen idol Rick Nelson’s favorite Kidney Bean Barbecue. Loretta Young provided her Barbecued Chicken sauce recipe — apparently so good that people came knocking on her door for the recipe. Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s mother, Janet Lee Auchincloss put out one of Jackie’s favorite quickies – Cream Cheese w/ Almonds dessert. Joan Crawford’s take on Kidney Bean Salad is here and many more.
Wasn’t more? How about USO favorite Bing Crosby’s Polynesian Chicken A La Mode (“How’s this?”, writes Bing in the margins). Steve Allen’s take on the simple Cheeseburger, almost a farce; Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s Pete’s Spaghetti (Says Fairbanks: “The above recipe was a favorite with Douglas Fairbanks Sr., my Dad, who was known to his family as “Pete”.)
From U. S. Senator Al Gore’s Jam Cakes by Pauline Gore, to Countess Knuth-Winterfeldt, the Ambassador of Denmark’s wife’s “Old Strasburger Goose Liver Paste”, to Senator Edmund Muskie’s Chocolate Roll to Kennedy press secretary Pierre Salinger’s wife Nancy’s Marinated Reds to President Kennedy’s New England Fish Chowder, it’s all here.
Whether you are a cook who’d love to try the exact recipes enjoyed by these politicians and celebrities from history, or someone who just likes to browse the family quirks of the powerful and famous; or a history buff who’d enjoy a slightly different perspective on these many famous personalities, Who’s Who in the Kitchen – 1962 Politician/Celebrity Cookbook will give you a smile or two – and some tasty food as well.
Choose from the full color, Kindle, or black and white version. Do not expect fancy — but do expect authentic.
A great Christmas/Hannukah or general gift, particularly for baby boomers. Order now while supplies last and deliver a truly original, unique gift AND contribute to Purple Heart as well.
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.
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.
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.