Recipes from the East

Recipes from the East
Recipes from the East

Submitter: I told my principal this morning that if he ever hears someone tell me “Oh, I know Exactly what kind of books you’d like,” he should kick me under the table.

Holly: That is the most awful cover I’ve ever seen. The real question is, how did something spiral bound last 55 years?!

  1. Oh, WOW. That looks amazing. (By ‘amazing’, I mean ‘amazing’ taken into the most sarcastic context EVER.)

  2. Spiral-bound books are frustrating. Can the spiral-thingie be recycled? That’s something I’ve been wondering about.

  3. I’m just guessing here, but I bet there’s a recipe for Chop Suey in this book, plus at least one recipe that calls for canned pineapple.

  4. I was thinking the same thing Holly was…then I read further down and she spoke for all librarians. How did that survive 55 years (!) as a spiral binding?

    Any libraries (still?) have Madonna’s spiral-bound Sex book on the shelves?

  5. I really love the random symbols, too. Throw around some mountains, elephants, Malyasian huts, and some toris, and wah-lah! You have a recipe for a stereotype salad!

  6. Would love to see some of the images from inside the book!
    Has the text a racist tone?

  7. Gosh the figure on the cover reminds me of those mammy type statues of the Aunt Jemima vareity you might find in an antique shop. Totally hideous and racist in my opinion.

  8. My wife bought this book at a Flea Market a few years back. The cover was already on its last legs when we got it and didn’t last. We thought the “East” meant New England and stuff.

  9. It doesn’t matter if the picture looks like a real person, it’s incorrect to point it out. Especially if the person isn’t white.

    1. Here’s a helpful test: If you handed this book to one of your Asian friends, would they glare at you? It’s probably a racist caricature then.

      I’m sure the recipes are a hoot, though. I’m imagining a lot of ketchup.

    2. The charicature is racist because one guy with all the features exagerated is meant to stand-in for all Asians. If you put a picture of Cletus the Slack-jawed Yokel on a book titled American Cooking, that also would be racist. Although I’ve seen white folks who look like Cletus…

    3. Beth, people do that all the time. White Southerners are the only group it’s still okay to caricature. I still run into problems with people underestimating me because of my Southern accent here in the Pacific Northwest, as do other transplants I know. White Southerners are most commonly depicted one of two ways: Cletus the slack-jawed yokel and his barefoot and pregnant common-law wife Mary Nell; or Wade Hampton Pickett Lee Stuart Forrest Jones IV, the smiling, back-stabbing, politically motivated, seer-suckered conniver, and his hoop-skirted (or at the very least crinoline’d) wife Betsy-Faye.

  10. I hate when people talk about art or objects or books from 50 years ago or more and call it “racist.” While, of course, calling anyone or anything racist in our current culture automatically gives you the last word, people who made “Aunt Jemima” statues or “Recipes from the East” cookbooks had a completely different mindset from what we have today. They wouldn’t have found anything strange about this book – even Asian people probably wouldn’t have. Certainly racial tendencies permeated people’s thoughts back then, as they still do today, but I am pretty sure that the cover art illustrator didn’t sit there and think, “I’d really like to piss off some Asian people with the cover of this book.”

  11. Cooking technology hasn’t really changed much for the last 50-70 years or so, though. Gas and electric stoves and ovens have been around since then, and basic implements like skillets and pots and baking pans haven’t changed much either.

    Older cookbooks are also very, very helpful for people who don’t own food processors, rice cookers or other newer tech.

    The stereotyped cartoon on the cover is really the only reason to remove it.

  12. Yes, this is true,no one would have thought in 1955 that this was not nice. This is typical stuff from the 50’s.
    But I’d still be way into the recipes. I have a cookbook from the 20’s or 30’s and it states “bake in a moderate oven”,what temperature is that? That’s funny,I had to look that up online what they considered moderate oven. I found out it was 375-400 degrees. Nothing very scientific about that,those 25 degrees could be disaster…between baked burned food and gently golden brown. Weird stuff from the past.

  13. Carolyn – Wrong! American Indians are still OK to caricature, too. The Washington Redskins still, to the shame of that institution, exist as such, and they are only the tip of the iceburg.

    (Though I do understand that Southerners are also perfectly OK to stereotype. I was once asked if there was actually internet in Oklahoma…)

  14. the thing about aunt jemima..most of the black ladies in my area wear scarves on their head like that and do, in fact, look like that. people really need to be careful in throwing the word “racist” around, not necessarily here but in general.
    i did show this picture to an asian friend, and they werent sure why it was offensive either.

    1. It’s not the actual Asian people we have to worry about. It’s the PC crowd that thinks they know better then everyone. You can’t use Miss or Mrs, you have to use Ms. You can’t say black, you have to say African-American. (If you used that to describe my mom’s best friend, Beverley would smack you down! She HATES that term and would much rather be called black.)

      It’s like how people aren’t allowed to say “Merry Christmas” because “It might offend Jews and Muslims” – and the Jews and Muslims shrug their shoulders and say, “It doesn’t offend us.” It’s always people who are NOT part of those groups whom complain that something is offensive or racist when the group in question couldn’t give a flying squirrel’s butt about the subject.

  15. SK – Don’t forget fat people like me. Even though some of us have actual medical problems that make us overweight. (For instance, my mom had a friend who was over 400 pounds. After going through a bunch of insulting doctors who told her she was just lazy, one finally actually examined her and found a tumor on her thyroid. Even if she had been stranded on a deserted island ala Castaway, she still wouldn’t have lost weight because of that tumor.) Yet people still refer to us as lazy over eaters, slobs, and even stupid like Homer Simpson.

    Here’s an interesting tidbit I picked up while reading about reasons a woman should try to at least look thinner by dressing certain ways – a fat woman on average gets paid less then a physically fit woman or a fat man.

  16. We had the book on our shelves! (we keep cookbooks) The binding did not survive. It’s been rebound inhouse. We bought it in 1965 for $2. The authorsays “Changing an Oriental recipe so that a Westerner will enjoy it isn’t as easy as it sounds.” She has retained the use of aji-no-moto, or MSG. She has chapters on Hawaii, Japan, Philippines, China, India, and Russia. I’ve seen worse recipes. No ketchup or chop suey, but she uses a lot of cooked ingredients and canned stocks and soups. There are plenty of better books with useful illustrations using fresher ingredients and more authenticity, so if cookbook space is tight, this should be the first to go. Ours has circulated once since 1999, and there are no names on the last manual card (1965.)

  17. I actually own this book (courtesy of my grandmother, who helped put it together). I think it needs to be removed more for the awful recipes than for the cartoon! They really are awful, 60’s dinner party fruit in Jello type things. Most of the recipes use Oleo. Ugh. The picture is a cartoon, though, and is about as real as you can expect from any such drawing.
    The book is worth reading for a laugh, though.

  18. I sooo want that book for my cookbook collection. I disagree about shredding it. Our history, good and bad, should be preserved.

  19. Even if cooking equipment hasn’t changed much, availability of ingredients popular in the 1950s may be iffy. My mother-in-law gave me the cookbook she received as a wedding gift in 1957. Great illustrations and instructions, but many of the ingredients are no longer popular in typical supermarkets (oxtails, tripe, etc.), not to mention sizes of prepared foods like canned goods have changed.