"The world's greatest cooks are men."
"While there are many women cooks who can prepare a fairly presentable bouillabaisse the dish reaches the heights only in the hands of a man."
"After suffering steam-table tastelessness or misplaced house-wifely economy, any palate will perk up at the taste of fresh fish, properly prepared -- by a man. (Women don't seem to understand fish -- and, we suppose, vice versa.)"
"Game can be cooked in a spick-and-span tiled kitchen, of course, and even exceptionally by some women (who usually are good shots as well); but a log cabin or an open grill is the logical place -- and a man's the proper cook."
Aside from those being "fighting words" for Julia Child, female chefs, and women in general -- these quotes, and countless others along the same line, can be found in a book which I found and bought at the library over the summer. Most libraries, by the way, earn a little extra income taking in donated books (or ridding their shelves of old or outdated ones) and selling them for less than the average late fee. I love going into libraries for nothing else but this...so, when my daughter had to read three books off a designated reading list during the summer, I hit the "selling alcove" to scour their designated "throw-aways".
I have, if you are not aware, a fondness, nay, a love of cooking, and as such own quite a growing, towering mass of these cookbooks and magazines. So, it wasn't much of a surprise when I ran across a pristine 1949 copy of "Esquire's Handbook for Hosts", I ripped it off the shelf as madly as those women you see parodied in movies battling it out over the "to die for" on sale sweater at the end of season sale at Neiman's.
I opened it up and delighted to see it probably had never been opened up once in its very long shelf life. Well, things were about to change...so I grabbed some change, plunked it down, and proud as a peacock (remember men, that's "peacock" not "peahen" as those are SOOOOOOOOO terribly inferior to the male of the species), exited the library with it, my daughter, and a few more books I bought, in tow.
But it wasn't until I got home and perused this uber-snob delight, because, seriously, that IS what this book is: A guidebook for the "well-appointed, well-to-do, well-dressed, and well-inherited" self-made bachelor. It's also a play-by-play guide for any self-respecting man's man who uses words like "buttle" and "canapes".
Hoity-toity men of the late 1940s apparently also had a profound affectation to banter about the word "Esky" when referring to Esquire Magazine. "Esky" undoubtedly felt the need to ram that fact along with some food and drink recipes peppered with assorted other host-related milieu of the impeccably refined...down my throat...and down my throat often.
While I found that little tidbit [I'll never use] out, I also found out this is a genuine time-traveling trip into the "very condescending to women" male-dominant society of...well, mid-1900s high-society. In a word, this is not something you are going to run across every day...nowadays.
Call me an anti-libber, but I thoroughly enjoyed the "James Bondishness" this book had. You know...the circa 1960s Bond, where women were just eye-candy ready to be unwrapped and then tossed aside like the cellophane wrapper you'd have to peel off packs of unfiltered Camels (you know, back when you could smoke in pleasant company without getting arrested) before you tapped the pack and plucked one out.
Yes, this book has everything for the dapper misogynist: Nude cartoons of women (yeah, it's a wonder it was allowed to be sold IN Alabama -- yes, I will never let this state live that 'wine label fiasco' down), hints and tips on how to get a woman...and which woman to choose who won't embarrass your family or bring you down a few notches in the social standings, and how women, themselves, know if they are indeed attractive to a man...or just a homely bore.
Seriously, it does. All that and much, much more!
So, when you are in need of knowing the proper way to shut up a tipsy vulgarian (lure him to a back bedroom and give him a "potent stiff one" to ensure he is rendered totally unconscious), what cures a morning hangover (absolutely NOTHING), or how to cook snipe...you'll find those -- plus a hefty dollop of brain teasers to impress even the most discerning of your Yale compatriots -- in this book.
And, as the writers of this prestigious bit of persnickety pomp would say, "Get out your gourmet viands and let the gay times commence!"
"My, my...how times HAVE changed, haven't they, Jeeves?"
Now where the devil could he have run off to? I tell you...good help is sooooooooooo hard to come by these days.