Monday, October 06, 2008

A Good Time to Be a Girl

Working for the Girl Scouts is much like working for any other company.

As in any office, you never know what you are going to find on the community lunch table. On occasion, there will be doughnuts, bagels, or pumpkin bread. Unlike most other offices, there is also a ready supply of Girl Scout Cookies.

The difference, of course, is that the employees in my office stay away from those particular cookies.

It’s not that they aren’t delicious or a wonderful quality food product. It’s just that we are so overexposed to them during the year, they lose all mystery. Frankly, after 8 years, I can’t look at a Thin Mint without going a little cross-eyed.

We serve Girl Scout Cookies at meetings, bring them to community events, and (I, especially) hand them out for public relations events.

But it wasn’t cookies I found on the lunch table today.

Someone must have been cleaning out their home library and brought in the rejects for recycled reading. Sitting primly atop the table was the 1947 Cookbook for Beginners (Cooking for Brides) by Dorothy Malone.

Curious, I picked it up and within minutes was laughing uproariously.

I suppose the…gender notions…found in this book were commonplace in 1947, but by today’s standards they seem unbelievably sexist, and (honestly, I found them) a little quaint. Kind of sweet, actually. Still sexist, though. Really, really sexist.

Reviews from the back of the book:

“Whether you are a bride or a seasoned spouse, here is a volume to convince you that cooking is a pleasure rather than a necessary evil.”

“The bride who reads Mrs. Malone will want to start her kitchen career upon laying down the book.”

Table of Contents:

The Beginner Dons Her Kitchen Apron – and prepares to cope with three good meals a day. She puts on her beruffled apron and checks her kitchen equipment, the staple closet, the spice corner, and the emergency shelf. She learns about measurements, too, and gets a beginner’s view of quantities.

Rise and Shine, It’s Breakfast Time – Attractively dressed and nicely complexioned, the beginner deals with simple breakfasts, produced with ease and confidence. Sunday brunches are also dealt with, as the beginner progresses from the elemental breakfast to slightly more complicated dishes. Which dishes, it will be noted, double handsomely for Sunday night snacks, lunches for unexpected guests, and after-the-movie tidbits.

The Foreword: (This is a little long, but absolutely priceless, and well worth the read.)

We find it startling to note that the girls who boast proudly of their ability to cook are getting scarcer and scarcer. It’s a sad indictment of our sense of values, for every woman ultimately knows that a well-cooked meal is a triumph of creative talent, a potent and insidious lure to the suitors on whom she is casting a speculative eye, and a most excellent adornment, eventually, to a happy marriage.

It’s fun to cook! It’s a great thrill to produce a luscious spicy apple pie which is eaten to its last flaky crumb, or an old-fashioned strawberry shortcake tumbled with crimson berries and smothered under snowy whipped cream. It’s an even greater thrill to watch the light of admiration that creeps into an ardent swain’s or perhaps a young husband’s eyes when he realizes that he has snatched a very jewel from the matrimonial mart, and that he will be well and delightfully fed all the days of his life!

It takes intelligence to be a good cook. It’s the intelligent cook who will have nothing to do with “good plain food,” but who specializes in “simple food” which is cooked with imagination, seasoned with a flair, and served with charm. It’s the intelligent cook who realizes it is a rich privilege to minister to the well-being of a family.

In this little book you will find the ways and means of mastering the fine art of cooking. Please note that we have scaled the recipes, in the main, to feed two. Knowing, however, that you will be seized with a compelling urge to show off the exciting results of your kitchen adventuring. We have included two chapters entitled “Entertaining” and “Specialties of the House” in which the recipes will feed 6 to 8.

May your culinary laurels grow greener with the years. You’ll never wear prouder honors.

But my absolute favorite (so far) has to be:

Chapter 1 – The Beginner Dons Her Kitchen Apron
You may have been the most popular deb of the season. You may be the most up-and-coming ‘Career Girl’ of the business world. You may be a very paragon of charm and unselfishness and sweetness, and a threat to the bachelor status of any man able to recognize a paragon when he sees one. But you can’t be a cook without a cookbook – and experience.

This book is written, therefore, for the day when, in the natural sequence of events, your thoughts turn to domesticity, to ruffled plastic aprons and parsley, to – eventually – a home of your own.

Gosh, I’ve never been so glad to be a girl!

In 2008.


joydriven said...

um...i lost it here:

"Attractively dressed and nicely complexioned, the beginner deals with simple breakfasts, produced with ease and confidence."

attractively dressed?! and nicely complexioned?! straight out of the sack?! strike me out.

Alice said...

When we were first married (fortunately, my cooking skills have improved since then) one night Darren asked what's for dinner? I said, "Tater tots." He asked, "And....what's to eat with them?" I answered, "Ketchup." I know it was at that moment the realization dawned on him that he had snatched away a very jewel from the matrimonial mart.

Ann-Marie said...

I've often wondered when my day will come - the day when my thoughts - in the "natural" sequence of events, natch - turn to domesticity, to ruffled plastic aprons and parsley.

When pigs fly, my friends. When pigs fly.

Laura Brown said...

How the heck did they get ruffles on a plastic apron?

Rebekah said...

"Whether you are a bride or a seasoned spouse, here is a volume to convince you that cooking is a pleasure rather than a necessary evil.”

I'm sorry, but I think it's a necessary evil. I enjoy cooking from time to time, but I'd much rather not be the one cooking - or cleaning for that matter. Thankfully, I married a wonderful man who has a great mother. She trained him well. He is a very good cook, tends towards being a neat freak, and looks pretty cute in my apron ;) (Which I love btw - it says "Born to shop, forced to cook")

Rebekah said...

Ok, so amid the cookbook thing, I forgot about the girl scout cookies. I love girl scout cookies. Especially Thin Mints. I can see why you would probably tire of them pretty quickly. It's probably how we feel after cookie season is finally over.

Me, I wish my freezer was full of thin mints instead of peanut butter patties. (That's what I get for covering the $$ for someone else, and then them never buying it.) *thought! take pb patties to meeting tonight for troop to devour!*

Anonymous said...

I'd hate to let you down.....
I would love to be the person that describes. There's nothing wrong with being a woman. And, if women don't want to cook why would we wish it on the man we love? Isn't that kind of like, being called a good wife because our daddies taught us how to change tires and the oil? Hand me that apron!

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

Long comment.
Hate to break it to you, but I'm with Tob on this one. Have you read my profile?? I love to cook and bake. And dress in the polka dotted dress with heels. I don't know, maybe I'm just weird. If I found a plastic ruffled apron, I'd probably stop and buy it. More for the fun of wearing it than the functionality, of course. And my husband likes frilly little aprons,too. Sometimes I even wear them over clothes. ;-)

Cooking isn't so bad. Maybe because I grew up with my mom at home, cooking three meals a day...and my dad praising her all the time. I just came to think that was right and normal. Of course, they also told us we could be astronauts if we wanted. No sexism there. My dad can cook, too.

It's especially fun to cook with herbs and wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food...

Ann-Marie said...

Tob & Wendy - long comment right back atcha!

I have no problem with cooking or wearing an apron (well, I don't wear one, but I wouldn't judge those who do).

What I have a problem with is being spoken/written to like I have the brain of a gnat! Or the assumption that only women should cook. Or that women should use food as an "insidious and potent" lure to attract men. Or that women can't have happy, fulfilled lives sans men. Or being referred to as a Career Girl. Or living under the false assumption that how I look defines who I am. Or that there is only one path for all women.

This book was a HUGE reminder of how far we've come since women were confined to the kitchen and the bedroom.

CANDICE said...

I think I need that book....

a joyful nusiance said...

I love Alice's tator tot story!! I laughed so hard on that 1!!

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

Ayyaaya! Gotcha up in arms, huh? Relax, I agree that women have come a long way. I just like to cook. And I was trying to be funny. You know, on funny Ann-Marie's site and all. ;-)

Women should have choices, be able to vote, wear jeans and high-heel black boots, and be out of the kitchen whenever they want to.

However, it's also nice to dress up for your husband and cook nice meals, just to show you care. But you already know that. It's more consideration and kindness now than expectations and manipulation.

We've come a long way, Baby!

Ann-Marie said...

Amen, sista!

Ann-Marie said...

P.S. - I was telling Brett about this post, and he says, "I don't know of any guy who marries someone for their cooking!"

I said, "Well, maybe in 1947."

He says, "What? They didn't have sex back then?"

I'm like, "Oh, right. Thanks, buddy."

I've got a real enlightened soul living in my house!

Alice said...

Yeah, I guess I didn't think this post had to really do with cooking. I love cooking (now). Some of my best times are teaching my girls to cook.

I thought it had to do w/ some sort of lame notion that my cooking skills were the super-secret ingredient that made my husband snap me up off that matrimonial mart (that phrase is just killing me), and they're what's keeping him married to me.

Also, the whole thing was so surface too...why should I be attractively dressed and nicely complexioned in the kitchen? I mean, my mom (a phenomenal cook) is from around that particular era, and she would do a combination of roll her eyes/die laughing if she read that.