MYRA WALDO REVISITED (SEARCHING FOR THE FRENCH CONNECTION)

The search began with an inquiry from a blog visitor, an attorney in San Diego, who began to question the identify of “the famous pseudonym”, as indicated on a little paperback cookbook titled THE ART OF PARISIAN COOKING, by Colette Black. He bought it when he was in college and wanting to learn how to cook more than frozen dinners or hamburgers.  On the back of this little paperback cookbook published by The Cromwell-Collier Publishing in 1962, is the notation “Colette Black is the pseudonym of a renowned writer, hostess, and world traveler, whose other cookbooks include the French Provincial Cookbook, the southern Italian cookbook and the Low Calorie Cookbook, all available from Collier books.”

From John H. July 6, 2013 :

I was led to your site because I was wondering who was behind a wonderful cookbook I bought in college and has been a staple of mine ever since. The recipes are easy and they are uniformly wonderful but I never knew who the author was (since they said it was a pseudonym) and I never saw any other books by her. The Art of Parisian Cooking still has the best recipe for boeuf bourguignonne I have ever had. Just made it the other day and it was wonderful. I found her name under copyright entries for the book at the Library of Congress. Sure wish someone would reissue the book in hardback form. If I am wrong and she is not the author, in the words of Emily Litella* “never mind”.

(*Emily Litella was a character created by Gilda Radner in the early days of Saturday Night Live-sls).

Hello John – you have my curiosity piqued – who is the author on the book? I don’t think it’s one of Myra Waldo’s as I don’t have the title listed under her books. I did a Google search and DID find a title THE ART OF PARISIAN COOKING but it offered very little else – no author, appears to be scarce.
Is there anything at all you can tell me about this book? I’d love to know. And someone who reads my blog might know something. Thanks for writing! – Sandy@sandychatter

The author is “Colette Black” but the book indicates it is a pseudonym for an important author. I got on the list of copyright titles from the Library of Congress.  Here is a link: Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1962: January-June. I am trying to copy and paste it, but don’t seem to be able to do so. I will keep working on it. It is a GREAT cookbook!

John:  July 7, 2013

I just clicked on the link I sent and I got to the site but you have to scroll down to find Myra Waldo Schwartz. I hope you can find it. I also hope it is she. That would sure add to the romance and mystery of this woman you have so kindly revealed to me via your blog.

Sandy:  July 7, 2013

HELLO John – I’m trying to find it and am missing something – and I have no idea who Colette Black is. It’s perplexing to think that Myra Waldo would have used a pseudonym for one of her books – she used her name of Myra Waldo throughout writing career producing 40-something cookbooks and a fistful of travel guides – but that doesn’t mean she DIDN’T; maybe there was a reason we don’t know about. What I have found perplexing is how or why she completely disappeared from public life. It was only a fluke that I learned – maybe a year or two ago – that she had moved to Beverly Hills where she lived out the rest of her life. That was such a “what-if” moment in MY life (discovered most of it in an Obituary) – Until 2008 I lived in the San Fernando Valley not very far from Beverly Hills. I thought ‘oh, to have been able to interview her’ – but maybe by then she didn’t WANT anything to do with the public. I spent about a year researching Myra Waldo before writing my first article about her for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange (in the mid 1990s). Myra’s cookbooks were fantastic. She also had an incredible career [in addition to writing cookbooks] – and then simply disappeared from public eye. One can’t help but wonder why.

Wonderful female chefs/cookbook authors such as Elizabeth David and Marion Cunningham–just to name two out of a plethora of wonderful female cookbook authors I admire – wrote until they were at death’s door. It begs the question, why didn’t Myra Waldo? Well, maybe between us we can figure this out. Thank you very much for writing. I just printed Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon to have on hand for comparison. (One of my favorite past times is delving deep into food – the history, not necessarily the cooking and eating part.

My guess is that she used the pseudonym “Colette Black” because she thought people might not be as attracted to “Myra Waldo Schwartz” as an author of a book on Parisian cooking. Sort of like the identity she created for the Molly Goldberg cookbook.

John:  July 7, 2013

In the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, entries are listed by author. This particular edition is from 1962. The entry for Myra Waldo Schwartz reads as follows:  SCHWARTZ, MYRA WALDO  The art of Parisian cooking by Colette Black, pseud. [caps as in original entry] 1st Ed. (Cookbook original Collier Books AS196) © Crowell-Collier Pub. Co.; 27Apr62; A6564110; Cook as the Romans do; Recipes of Rome an northern Italy by Myra Waldo, 1st Ed. (Collier Books Collier Books Cookbook original AS99) © Myra Waldo Schwartz 29Dec61 A546005

And it goes on from there with other entries. I think this is a wonderfully fascinating mystery. She must have been a really fascinating woman. I am glad you are keeping her alive.

John, I found the cookbook [The Art of Parisian Cooking] on Amazon.com for $4.00 & 3.99 shipping and it’s paperback, may not be in great condition, but I am curious enough to find out. A HARD BOUND copy is listed at $140.00!!! Hope to hear from you & any additional input you may have to contribute! – Sandy

I am so glad you found it! Mine is paperback too. I know you will enjoy it. Great recipes in that little book. I do not know if I mentioned how I came to it. I was in college at UCSD and used to wander through the college bookstore and just browse through books. The Art of Parisian Cooking caught my eye and I had always heard that French cooking was the best so I picked it up. My diet at the time was mainly hamburgers and fast food and anything else a young college guy could throw together. (Absolutely NOTHING green!). When I looked in the book the recipes looked easy I decided to buy it (for 95 cents) and thought I would give it a try. The first thing I made was “Fondue du Poulet” which is NOT a fondue but was great and I found I liked cooking and the result was a pretty great product. I also discovered that girls liked it when guys cooked for them! So I started cooking for my dates. That started a lifelong relationship with finer food than I as a college kid was used to making for myself. It dovetailed with my discovering that there were better wines out there than Red Mountain Hearty Burgundy. The rest, for me, was history.

John:  July 7, 2013

I just clicked on the link I sent and I got to the site but you have to scroll down to find Myra Waldo Schwartz. I hope you can find it. I also hope it is she. That would sure add to the romance and mystery of this woman you have so kindly revealed to me via your blog.

The art of Parisian cooking by Colette Black, pseud. [caps as in original entry] 1st Ed. (Cookbook original Collier Books AS196) © Crowell-Collier Pub. Co.; 27Apr62; A6564110; Cook as the Romans do; Recipes of Rome an northern Italy by Myra Waldo, 1st Ed. (Collier Books Collier Books Cookbook original AS99) © Myra Waldo Schwartz 29Dec61 A546005

And it goes on from there with other entries. I think this is a wonderfully fascinating mystery. She must have been a really fascinating woman. I am glad you are keeping her alive. The Art of Parisian Cooking also has a filet mignon au champignon that is great, something call fondue du poulet (basically a chicken curry), a lobster mousse and a Lobster thermidor, among many others.

Sandy: Thanks, John–I believe you, Colette Black was Myra Waldo/Schwartz–and Collier’s was a publisher she used frequently.

It may remain a mystery altho I think I could try writing to someone (maybe the person who wrote her obituary) & see if I can find a list of everything not previously listed (and an explanation for her using a pen name in later years?). I’ll try to get to the website you mentioned. –if I can put together enough information I could do an update on “Where’s Waldo” – to let the world know she’s been found. Did you notice, Where’s Waldo has more comments over the past 2 years than almost anyone else I have written about. I think Complete Meals in One Dish is my favorite of all her books–for the text as much as the recipes–it’s enchanting and her writing is a style I can identify with. I have written about other mostly forgotten cookbook authors but Myra remains #1. Will try to put together a list of the unknown titles. Thanks! Sandy

John H:  I wonder if she has living relatives. Maybe they would know more and could shed light. I think you are single-handedly keeping her memory alive. I am sure she would have liked that.

Maybe there is a book in it for you, actually. Following the mystery. I know I would buy one as, I am sure, would many of your readers.

Sandy:  Thanks John. You may be right – Myra isn’t the only cookbook author who disappeared from sight–just recently someone led me to the answer about Meta Given (another fascinating story) & a few years ago I was led to the answer about a handwritten cookbook I bought from a used book store in Hollywood decades ago–a young woman, American by birth but living in Great Britain–solved the who-dun-it mystery of the author of my beloved handwritten cookbook, compiled over decades. That became Helen’s Cookbook and the follow up to Helen’s Cookbook.

And not too long ago I was able to write about The Browns, whose books I have loved since I first began collecting cookbooks–turns out a couple of descendants of the Browns also had blogs and they found ME. Just recently realized I need a master list of all the titles – and I HAVE started it but sometimes it’s a tossup- write about something new and different or try to compile a master list? And while I was going through some of the articles in my WORD file, I see there are a lot more than I thought. but doing a book about these cookbook authors and presenting it as a detective story would be interesting (if someone doesn’t do it before I do) – btw, I find it fascinating that authors I have written about–without virtually Anything listed on Google at the time–now, when I go back–I find dozens of entries that weren’t there before. Meta Given is one such example. By the way, the first one I wrote about–originally for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange–was Ida Bailey Allen. Thanks for writing! – Sandy

John:  You should read [the introduction to] the Art of Parisian Cooking by Colette Black. I had never read the introduction but after discussing it all with you decided to do so and compare the style to some of Myra Waldo’s other writing. I see some similarities but would defer to your judgment. My conclusion is that she was the author because of the copyright register.  I love a mystery!

Sandy  Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, John –  It wouldn’t be too far- fetched for Myra  to have taken up writing under another name. She just disappeared (as Myra Waldo) from public view and cookbook writing – and quite possibly publishers were no longer interested in her as Myra Waldo. A cookbook author with whom I have had some correspondence said never mention the year she was born because it turns publishers off–they seem to think once you reach a certain age, your material is no longer publication -worthy. Do you suppose that could have happened to Myra also? Her published cookbooks span decades. Have you learned anything else you could share? This would be a great blog post to write if I can dig up enough material. I’ll start with the Art of Parisian Cooking.
Sandy

John:  August 17, 2013

My theory is that Myra had a lot of success under her own name but thought a cookbook about Parisian Cooking should have a more French sounding name if it was going to succeed. I think the actual title of the book is “The Art of Parisian Cooking by Colette Black” but that she simply did not put author credit on it. So the title is not “The Art of Parisian Cooking” with author credit for “Colette Black”. If you find an intact copy (mine has lost its back cover) it mentions that “Colette Black” is a pseudonym for a “famous writer” (which of course, only heightened the mystery. I figured it was some great French writer of literature who did not want people to know she also knew cooking. It is wonderful how many details the imagination can provide.) Finding out from you that Myra traveled widely (especially in Europe) and often wrote about the food from places she went suggests to me that she spent some time in France and picked up a bunch of recipes when she was there.

I am certainly no expert but I think cookbook writing back in the 50′s and 60′s was less glamorous than it is today. They were really “how to books” for women (mainly) like the “how to books” on auto repair were for men. I don’t think the authors were big stars like they are now, though I could be completely mistaken about that. But the cookbooks I have from that era are pretty anonymous or use false names like “Betty Crocker” with little reference to the authors as personalities.

I will say that the introduction to the Art of Parisian Cooking is airy and whimsical and contains allusions to the French reputation for enjoying life in all of its aspects. This came at a time in American history when we were slowly emerging from a more puritanical Victorian way of talking about things. So her sly references to sex, though extremely tame, might have been seen as mildly racy when the book first appeared but might have been acceptable coming from a “French” writer.

Over the years, I have learned to hear meter and style and to be able to identify writing or speech based on that rather than the actual identification of the author. (I guessed that the writer of several episodes of a TV show were written by David Mamet, for example, before the credits appeared based on the sound of the dialogue. It will be very interesting to me to hear what you think when you read the introduction to the Art of Parisian Cooking. My guess is you will know immediately whether or not you think it is Myra’s work. Sorry for the long post.

John, I like your belief that you can identify writers by their style–I think that’s true & you know, I have received dozens of email messages from people reading my posts over the past few years & writing to say they like how I write–my style, if I have such a thing, is to write the way I talk and to bring people into my kitchen to talk about food and recipes. I strive to keep it plain & simple. When I was writing about Myra Waldo (first time was back in the 1990s) I was collecting her books at the same time, and trying to read as many of them as quickly as possible–I think I said before that Complete Meals in One Dish was a favorite; many of the introductions to chapters are written the way a friend might write to you from another country about their food/recipe experiences. Well, I hope I can learn more about Collette Black & perhaps dig up enough information to write a sequel (am also collecting information to write a sequel to Chef Szathmary). This is such an exciting experience. Thanks much! Sandy

In my business, conclusions can be drawn based on direct evidence and on things that are deducible from direct evidence. Circumstantial evidence works too. Here is my case: (1) the Patent Office register lists Myra Waldo Schwartz her as the author of the Art of Parisian Cooking; (2) Myra Waldo wrote several books called “The Art of …. Cooking”; (3) Myra Waldo traveled everywhere in Europe with her husband and wrote about the indigenous cooking; (4) with her interest in food and cooking, she had to know the French had the reputation for the best cuisine and Paris the best of the French; (5) she wrote about the cooking of a bunch of places including Italy and South America but not about Parisian cooking? Seems unlikely to me. The case rests.
But I am really anxious to hear what you have to say when you read her introduction. As I said before, I think you will be able to tell if she is your Myra. I agree with your correspondents, by the way. I like your conversational style. It goes with the topic.

Sandy: August 18, 2013

Hi, John – thanks for the input – I have copied and pasted your latest comment to my WORD file & I hope you won’t object to my including it (do not have to include your email address, last name, etc, just “John” maybe in San Diego? – I wouldn’t have been able to word your case for Myra being Colette as well as you did.  Will let you know when my copy of the book arrives. I have been mulling over whether or not someone from her family would respond to an inquiry. It might be worth a try. The obituary listed some family members. And it begs the question – were there any other books printed under the name of Collette? Thanks for the information!

Sandy – You are welcome to use anything I have written to you in whatever way you would like, with or without attribution. I am happy just to advance the solution to the mystery.

Thanks, John – I will let you know when my copy of Colette’s book arrives in the mail. Looking forward to comparing her writing with Myra’s.

Sandy – I assume you’ve read your copy of The Art of Parisian Cooking by Colette Black by now. What do you think?

Sandy:  John, I will start researching Colette when I get back from Seattle. Also meant to tell you, I am on LinkedIn – just seldom use it (I forget–I have too many irons in the fire) – but when I am intrigued by an author (such as Waldo/Black – then I zero in on it and everything else goes by the wayside.
Thanks for your help!! I’m delighted! – Sandy

Sandy:  ps to John–want to suggest you go back and read through all the titles I listed, of Myra’s books, – in at least 3 or 4 it references French cooking being among the countries represented in some of her books. In Complete Meals in One, she mentions trying out several languages on a person they encountered when their car broke down–French was one of the languages they tried out on the farm wife they met (to no avail). I think I can make up a list of the books in which French cooking was referenced. Maybe she always planned to write one, separately on French cooking & never got to it. Or she DID and we never knew!!

Sandy: September 16, 2013

John, I thought I had written to tell you that my copy of the Art of Parisian Cooking did come …. I haven’t come to any conclusion RE whether she and Myra are one and the same person. I’m inclined to lean in that direction & have wondered if I wrote to a family member, whether they would respond. It would make a fantastic blog post if Collette & Myra were one and the same person. I think I’ll try to find something else that Collette has written–I have virtually all of Myra’s cookbooks & in some instances, more than one copy. Have gotten sidetracked working on some material about Chef Szathmary.

If there are Myra family members you have located, I sure would contact them. Maybe they will know and maybe not, but it would be worth the try.

Sandy: September 16, 2013

ps- note to John – OMG. I just had an epiphany kind of moment – I was re-reading some of Myra’s dialogue in which, whenever she & her husband traveled, – she always simply referred to him as “my husband”. His last name was Schwartz. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Schwartz German for black?

Oh My God!

You are so right!!

You have just hit on it!

That is so great!

That is the last key!

John: September 17, 2013

Sandy – Something else just occurred to me. Myra clearly used the name “Black” because of her last name. So, how come the name “Colette”?

You said she traveled extensively in France and this is the “Art of Parisian Cooking”. If it is Paris, perhaps she dined at Le Grand Vefour, one of the most Parisian of Parisian restaurants and it has been in business for over a hundred years.

What is significant about that is that they have always promoted the restaurant by saying that it was the favorite restaurant of both Napoleon and the French writer Colette. In fact, when I dined there I sat in the booth that Colette preferred.  I wonder if that is why she chose that name?

Sandy: September 18, 2013

John, I think you may have hit the nail on the head–if memory serves me correctly (and I will have go back to my file on Myra) I dont think she had children of her own. She had two nephews and I don’t think there were any nieces. It enabled her and her husband, Robert, to travel not just to France but to many different countries – she wrote several cookbooks encompassing these countries. It makes sense to me that Collette might have been a favorite name & one she might have chosen if they had had any children of their own. Is this another piece of the puzzle falling into place? I have to look up the name of the family member who wrote the obit too. curiouser and curiouser! Wouldn’t it be fantastic to find out we are absolutely right?? – regards, Sandy

Sandy: September 19, 2013

ps – John, back in August in one of your messages to me RE Myra Waldo, you wrote: 1) the Patent Office register lists Myra Waldo Schwartz her as the author of the Art of Parisian Cooking – I think this pretty much seals our supposition that Myra Waldo and Colette Black were one and the same person–I’ll still make an effort to contact a family member. Do you know of any other cookbooks that Myra wrote as Colette? I haven’t found any other titles yet. – Looking forward to writing a sequel to my original “Where’s Waldo?” –You have been such a huge help with this. – Sandy

John: September 19, 2013

One more thing about the idea that Colette came from the French authoress. Colette wrote Gigi in the 1940’s and it was made into a French film and then adapted for stage in the early ‘50’s (long before your time!)

It was a huge hit on Broadway in the mid-‘50’s and the movie was a huge hit in the late ‘50’s. Colette had a bit of a renaissance during that time. It would not surprise me if Myra and Robert went to Paris and dined in the Le Grand Vefour having already heard of Colette and Gigi (they lived in New York, after all). Add a big French celebrity and the English version of her last name and voila! You have Colette Black.

I think your observation that “Schwartz” means “black” in German was genius. It really explains everything! I am glad only to have helped.

That is GREAT!   Mystery completely solved!

I have loved The Art of Parisian Cooking for nearly 50 years.  I am thinking of buying the Provencal and Italian books too.  I’ll bet the recipes in those books are just as good. Thanks for letting me know.

It is interesting that Myra did several other cookbooks under the Colette Black name.  I wonder why she did some in her own name and some under the Colette name.

This is exciting!  What a journey!  This is going to be terrific for your readers.

One more thing about the idea that Colette came from the French authoress. Colette wrote Gigi in the 1940’s and it was made into a French film and then adapted for stage in the early ‘50’s (long before your time!) It was a huge hit on Broadway in the mid-‘50’s and the movie was a huge hit in the late ‘50’s. Colette had a bit of a renaissance during that time. It would not surprise me if Myra and Robert went to Paris and dined in the Le Grand Vefour having already heard of Colette and Gigi (they lived in New York, after all). Add a big French celebrity and the English version of her last name and voila! You have Colette Black.

I think your observation that “Schwartz” means “black” in German was genius. It really explains everything! I am glad only to have helped.

SandySeptember 19, 2013

John – I have sent a message to a woman who I THINK may have been related to Myra, and is listed on Facebook. Cross your fingers! Am hoping I have the right person and that she will either confirm or deny the relationship with Myra and Myra’s connection with Colette. if this person isnt the right one – I can try for one or two others.

Sandy:  September 19, 2013

John–regardless of whether I get a response or not to my inquiry re Myra/Colette–I think we have solved the question ourselves. I would just like an official response but that might not happen. Do you remember any other titles (besides the Art of Parisian Cooking) that were copyrighted in her real name?

Here is one:

SCHWARTZ, MYRA WALDO.

The art of South American cookery,

by Myra Waldo. Illustrated by

John Alcorn. 1st ed. Doubleday.

© Myra Waldo Schwartz; l8 Aug 6l;

A517793.

Sandy: September 19, 2013

John, I found 4 titles THE SOUTHERN ITALIAN COOKBOOK, 1963, THE LOW CALORIE COOKBOOK 1962, FRENCH PROVENCIAL COOKING, 2 LISTED ON EBAY $29-$33. (YIKES!) and of course, our ART OF PARISIAN COOKING. If I had the other titles I could compare them with books she wrote under Myra Waldo. There were a couple of diet type cookbooks. I’ll have to dig out the many paperback copies of her cookbooks that I acquired when doing searches. I think one was a diet cookbook. no response on FB yet.

OMG, Sandy!  I got back on the Library of Congress log of copyrights to get you the other books listed for Myra and look what other titles I found under Myra Waldo Schwartz!

Cook as the Romans Do

Cooking from the Pantry Shelf

The Hamburger Cook Book

The Souffle Cookbook

And last but not least:

The Low Calorie Cookbook by Colette Black

Again it is listed (like the Art of Parisian Cooking) as “pseud”, meaning it is a pseudonym for the author.

Now here is the BIG news:

I decided to put The Low Calorie Cookbook by Colette Black into my Google search and I found several books by Colette Black!

Southern Italian Cookery

French Provincial Cookery

ALL of them say “Colette Black pseud.”

So, she wrote more books under that pseudonym.

Put “the low calorie cookbook by Colette black” into Google and it will give you an Amazon link. Go on that link and you will find the other books.

I think you have not only found Colette Black, but also that Myra wrote more books than you thought!

I am excited!

SandySeptember 20, 2013

John…I’ve been thinking we are working at cross purposes at times–if that is the right expression–when I go through messages I find we have repeated ourselves more than once…I propose to go to work in WORD tomorrow morning and start with the Myra’s cookbook titles I listed at the end of my article. Then I will do a list of Colette’s titles. Also want to add publishing dates for both lists. This is important because she was writing under both names in the early 60s. How on earth did she do it? There are at least 3 diet-genre cookbooks in paperback under Myra Waldo that I found amongst my cookbooks. Cooking for your heart & health, The low salt, Low cholesterol cookbook, The slenderella cookbook – plus the one she did as Colette. (Slenderella was an early version of something like Weight Watchers or Curves).What blows my mind is that she was doing all of this B.C. (before computers!) – what’s the earliest that she could have had her own P.C.? I didn’t have a home computer until I divorced in 1984 and decided I needed a computer to keep up with my writing. so how did she manage? Well, we may have discovered who Colette Black was, but it begs the question – how on earth did Myra DO it ALL? amongst the paperbacks are two THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING and THE COMPLETE BOOK OF VEGETABLE COOKERY, which appears to have been part of a group–I just have those two…some of these paperbacks have turned up in unlikely places–thrift stores or used book stores when we still had a lot of those to go digging around in.. sorry this is so long but your email prompted thoughts of mine–I would love to list you as my cowriter/researcher on this project if it doesn’t infringe on any of your professional work–we’ve shared so much of this & it has been challenging and delightful to have someone get as excited about it as I am. So on that happy note I will sign off for tonight. to be continued! – Sandy

John: September 20, 2013

 Sandy – Just to keep it straight, perhaps we should communicate through e-mail. You can cull out of our e-mails whatever you would like.

I still believe that the clincher would be to find recipes for the same dishes in both Colette and Myra cookbooks to see if they are the same. My guess is that there will be some.

I was really excited to find other “Colette” books; to find that they were pseudonyms and to find more than one “Colette” book listed under Myra’s name as copyrighted by her.

Anyway, I am happy to help in whatever way I can. I love solving a mystery. In my line of work we look for patterns from which one can extrapolate.

The fact that there are books “The Art of ____ Cooking” by Myra both and “Colette”, suggests to me a pattern of title that ties them together. When you add that to the fact that about the same time there were books both by “Colette” and by Myra that were healthy eating or diet books, also suggests a relationship. Finally, the fact that both “Colette” and Myra did books the final word in the titles of which was “Cookery” (a word not in common usage) suggests that the same person was involved with both.

BTW – Just the lawyer in me talking, but you should copyright your work so it is protected. It is easy. Just put © Copyright August 2013 Sandy Smith at the end of each of your posts. There is a difference between copyrighting your work and registering the copyright. It is the registration that costs money and time. JW

Sandy: September 20, 2013

John–I was going to reply by email & then discovered I didn’t have it written down but I know it’s in my inbox emails somewhere. And how do you use the copyright symbol? I used to know that & trade mark but don’t remember them now. Oh, and wanted to mention – I was tickled that you thought Gigi was before my time. Not at all. I was a kid growing up in the 50s. And Gigi was on tv not very long ago. I think that was Maurice Chevalier (sp) first big film hit. And I do want to give you credit for your research on this project. I would have never connected all the dots by myself. You wrote today “still believe that the clincher would be to find recipes for the same dishes in both Colette and Myra cookbooks to see if they are the same. My guess is that there will be some” – I’ve been thinking the same thing! It amazes me how often we are on the same page. I was reading the introduction to the Art of Parisian cooking in which she delves into the history of French cuisine–Myra doesn’t do this in all of her cookbooks but she does in some–I think some of the paperback editions are condensed so the introductions are shorter. I wanted to see if the lengthier introductions have a pattern of similarities. I would like to check the recipes in Art of Parisian cooking with some of the others in Myra’s collection of foreign cookbooks–some of them just have to be very similar if not the same. (just now I opened up my paperback copy of Myra Waldo’s Bicentennial American Kitchen thinking it could be her most recently published book (was thinking 1976) – aha! the copyright date is 1960. Thanks again for your input–it has been a long time since I put this much into cookbook research–it’s exciting, like putting a complicated puzzle together. Still no answer from the person on FB I think is related to the family. I just know they are in Beverly Hills. – Sandy

Sandy: September 20, 2013

I have been working on my Myra cookbook list and wanted to share one title in particular with you – it’s not a book I have, I’m sorry to say – my collection of her books is far from complete and now I want to go back to searching for some of the missing titles. Anyway – this title caught my eye:

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN adapts hundreds of French gourmet recipes for American kitchens (and palates) with recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts, and a glossary of different kinds of cheeses, a chapter of information regarding wines and an herb and spice chart. This is the kind of book that will make gourmet cooks out of all of us. (*and now I wonder – how would THIS book compare with the Art of Parisian Cooking?) MUST find this one!

NOTE TO FILE: 9/22/13 I ordered the Complete Book of Gourmet Cooking for the American Kitchen from Amazon.com before checking my own bookshelves and discovering I already had it. Then spent the past 2 days cross referencing Complete Book of Gourmet Cooking (which contains French recipes for the American household) with  “Colette’s” ART OF PARISIAN COOKING—after I cross referenced 20-something recipes, including the famous Beef Burgundy that got John & me working on this project, and established that the recipes were virtually identical except for minor types of alcohol – Cognac versus Brandy, which John assures me is the same thing, Cognac just being a more expensive type of brandy. One recipe called for a cup of heavy cream while its counterpart only had half a cup[ of heavy cream – but for all intents and purposes, the recipes are the same. It was an amazing discovery.

Some final comments from John on this subject:

One other thought about the duplication of recipes.  If there are that many that are the identical (in fact if there is even one), that is pretty proof positive that they are one and the same not only because they are the same in different books under different names but also because it is copyrighted material.  If they were not owned by the same person, they could not have appeared in 2 different cookbooks by different authors because it would have been copyright infringement and Myra’s lawyer husband would have known that. If there were someone named Colette who was stealing his wife’s copyrighted material, he likely would have sued and likewise would not have wanted Myra to infringe anyone else’s copyright. So it is clear enough that they are the same person, if only because the law prohibits misappropriation of copyrighted material.

Copyrights last for the life of the author plus 70 years.  If you have something that you want to make sure is completely safe, you should register the copyright with the Patent Office. It is an easy form that can be obtained online and the registration is not all that expensive.

 But I think the final nail was your brainstorm that Schwartz means “black” in German.  I should have noticed that.  I have a number of Jewish friends from New York who told me that there is a Yiddish slang word “schwarter” that used to be used and was slang for black people.  I do not know if it was intended as an epithet but don’t think so. There was a cartoon in New Yorker years ago that had a black guy wearing a campaign button that said “Schwartzers for Carter”.  If it was an insulting or mean reference I don’t think the New Yorker would have printed it.  But I don’t know Yiddish, so I don’t know.

 Second, in honor of you and Myra, I am making fondue du poulet tomorrow (and I am using Remy Martin cognac).  I will let you know how it turns out. I haven’t made it in more than 10 years but it was always a hit.

 Sandy’s final note: When I first began writing about Myra Waldo in the mid 1990s, I didn’t have search engines like Google to dig around and search for titles, and I didn’t have Amazon.com and Alibris.com to enable me to order some of Myra’s cookbooks—and I most certainly didn’t have a blog which enabled me to write about all the cookbook authors I loved, or for people all over the United States to write back to me when something on my blog struck a chord. Such was the case when my lawyer friend in San Diego became curious about his tattered paperback copy of The Art of Parisian Cooking and wrote to me because he was curious about the unknown author writing under a pseudonym. What little we were able to establish about the elusive Colette Black is that her writing style seemed familiar—and on the back of The Art of Parisian Cooking, Collier Books wrote “Colette Black is the pseudonym of a renowned writer, hostess and world traveler…”  Well, the only person who fit that description was, once I had enough time to mull over it, was Myra Waldo.  But how to prove to our own satisfaction – for John was by this time my co-researcher on this project—that Myra Waldo and Colette Black were one and the same person?  Our emails back and forth, some of which were repetitive or about other topics, have been condensed so that, I hope, you can follow the yellow brick road that led us from no knowledge at all about the identity of Colette Black—to firmly establishing that Colette and Myra were the same person.

For readers who are interested in finding some of Myra’s cookbooks:

SERVE AT ONCE, THE SOUFFLE COOKBOOK, 1954, was published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company in New York and may be her first published cookbook. (I believe she had travel books or pamphlets published before she began writing cookbooks).

“Myra Waldo has been testing and collecting souffle recipes for years,” we learn on the dust jacket of this book., “Her previous writing experience ranges from copy for cosmetics and chain stores to travel folders, and to assisting her husband compile two dictionaries. She is a member of the Gourmet Society of New York...” (This comment on the dust jacket would seem to indicate that the Souffle Cookbook was Myra’s first published cookbook.)

COMPLETE ROUND-THE-WORLD COOKBOOK; RECIPES GATHERED BY PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS FROM OVER 80 COUNTRIES, WITH FOOD AND TRAVEL COMMENTS BY MYRA WALDO, 1954, First American edition, 1957, 9 reprints up to 1960.

THE MOLLY GOLDBERG JEWISH COOKBOOK/PUBLICATIONS, PAPERBACK) copyright 1955 by Myra Waldo & Gertrude Berg, first published by Doubleday, 1955, 7 printings up to 1968.Pyramid  Royal paperback.

Myra Waldo appeared to be ahead of her time with cookbooks that were for our health.  SLENDERELLA COOK BOOK* was first published in 1957 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.  Later, it appeared in paperback under the title, THE COMPLETE REDUCING COOK BOOK FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. Another cookbook published in paperback was titled COOKING FOR YOUR HEART AND HEALTH, first published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1961, reprinted in paperback by Pocket Book in 1962 (cost of the paperback was fifty cents—imagine THAT!).  (*Slenderella, a former New Yorker advised me, was a kind of weight loss facility—think Weight Watchers or Curves)

THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK was published by Collier as a paperback in 1961 with numerous reprints. The copy my friend and editor, Sue Erwin, located was printed in 1972.  As cookbooks go, this one is a delightful departure from the norm. It’s the story of newlyweds, Jane and Peter, told in diary form by Jane; the recipes are good and the story line is cute. As an aside, while researching this and other cookbook authors, it has become apparent that quite a few writers of the 50s and 60s wrote a cookbook for brides.  (*Incidentally, I don’t think the Jane-and-Peter format would go over today).  My paperback copy of the Bride’s Cookbook shows a copyright date of 1958. First Collier edition published in 1961, fifth printing 1972.

Another favorite Myra Waldo cookbook is “THE DINERS’ CLUB COOKBOOK, (Great Recipes from Great Restaurants), published in 1959 by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc.  Recipes are from famous restaurants from coast to coast and there is even one from the Toll House in Whitman Massachusetts—where the original chocolate chip cookie was created. The recipe in the Diners Club cookbook, however, is a frosted daiquiri pie. Many of the restaurants no longer exist today, but it’s fun to read and the recipes sound delicious.

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING, First PRINTING 1960 by David McKay Publishers, 2ND PRINTING 1962, BANTAM PAPERBACK PRINTINGS 11 PRINTNGS AS OF 1965.  THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING offers chapters on cuisine from Hawaii, Japan, Korea, Phillipines, Indonesia, China, Indochina, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, and India.

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN, also published in 1960, by G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS (French cooking for American kitchens)  adapts hundreds of French gourmet recipes for American kitchens (and palates) with recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts, and a glossary of different kinds of cheeses, a chapter of information regarding wines and an herb and spice chart. This is the kind of book that will make gourmet cooks out of all of us.

In 1960, Myra Waldo published “COOKING FOR THE FREEZER” and this was dedicated to preparing meals in advance. Written prior to the advent of side-by-side freezers and cross top freezers, the refrigerator-freezer shown on the cover with the author doesn’t look like it would hold more than a single meal but the author offers recipes that reconstitute satisfactorily after freezing and do sound good. Most of Myra Waldo’s cookbooks show, I think, the influence of her world travels.

THE ART OF SOUTH AMERICAN COOKERY published in 1961 by Doubleday.

CAKES, COOKIES AND PASTRIES, (187 great dessert recipes from around the world) first published by Crowell-Collier Publishing Company in 1962.  Included are tantalizing recipes for goodies like Venezuelan Banana Torte and Viennese Poppy Seed Torte, Greek Pistachio Cookies and Swedish Honey cookies.

MYRA WALDO’S DESSERT COOKBOOK is written in a similar vein, offering recipes from many parts of the world.  Included are recipes for yummy recipes such as Hungarian Plum Dumplings, Chinese Sesame Seed Bananas, Polish Almond Bars and Persian Rice Pudding. This, also, was first published in 1962 by Crowell-Collier Publishing Company.

One book appears to have been originally published by Collier’s as a paperback, was THE CASSEROLE COOKBOOK 1963 (170 ingenious one-dish dinners). I think it might have been a takeoff from her earlier COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH although the recipes are different.  “The casserole” noted the author, “is the greatest single boon for the busy hostess. It permits her to join her guests instead of being confined to last-minute duties in the kitchen…” I agree, and reading both books, found many recipes that would be suitable even today. The back cover of THE CASSEROLE COOKBOOK notes that “Myra Waldo is the author of many Collier cookbooks, including  COOKING FROM THE PANTRY SHELF, GREAT RECIPES FROM GREAT RESTAURANTS, THE HAMBURGER COOKBOOK, COOK AS THE ROMANS DO, SOUFFLE COOKBOOK, CAKES, COOKIES AND PASTRIES  and 1001 WAYS TO PLEASE A HUSBAND: THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK. Incidentally, if you have this last title, it appears to be the most elusive of all Waldo’s books and, for some reason, the highest priced listed in Alibris.com. I am unable to determine whether 1001 Ways to Please a Husband and The Bride’s Cookbook are one and the same or two separate books.

And, although THE ART OF SPAGHETTI COOKERY 1964 does not appear to have been classified amongst Waldo’s “foreign” cookbooks, it does contain recipes from many parts of the world; recipes such as Czechoslovakian potato noodle, Greek macaroni casserole, Bhat Aur Savia (Indian rice and spaghetti) and Chinese beef and noodles.   As an added bonus, the author provides an interesting history of spaghetti in the Introduction.  Another cookbook by Myra Waldo, while not strictly “foreign” has a European stamp, with recipes from France, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH/DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, 1965

COMPLETE BOOK OF WINE COOKERY 1965 (publisher?)

DICTIONARY OF INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND COOKING TERMS, 1967

INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COOKING, ILLUSTRATED BY SIDONIE CORYN 1967 (publisher?)

INTER-CONTINENAL GOURMET COOKBOOK published in 1967 by Macmillan Company. (One edition with a box to hold the cookbook in), but I also have a very nice hardcover edition published the same year.  Was the boxed edition for something special?

THE COMPLETE ROUND THE WORLD MEAT COOKBOOK, also published in 1967 by Doubleday & Company

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE COOKING WORLD published in 1971 by Dodd, Mead & Company is devoted to recipes from China, The Orient (other than China), Where East Meets West (recipes from Russia, Rumania, Greece, Turkey, Iran and Israel), Middle Europe (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia), Italy, the Latin Countries (Spain, Portugal, South America and Mexico) and France.

CUCINA ORIENTALE, 1972 (publisher?) no other information

Despite being a most prolific cookbook author throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, producing over 40 cookbooks, Myra Waldo appears to have all but disappeared from our culinary landscape.  Most of my food-related reference books fail to mention her at all; James Trager, in  “THE FOOD CHRONOLOGY” refers only briefly to her first cookbook, “THE SOUFFLE COOKBOOK” published in 1954, and Waldo’s 1967 “INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COOKING”.  (As a yardstick of comparison, I noted that Irma Rombauer, who wrote only one cookbook (Joy of Cooking) ranks an entire lengthy paragraph in Trager’s Food Chronology, while Margaret Rudkin who introduced the world to Pepperidge Farm Bread and wrote THE PEPPERIDGE FARM COOKBOOK” is acknowledged with nearly an entire page. Ida Bailey Allen who, you know, is the author of first cookbook I was introduced to as a child, is referenced nine  times in Trager’s book, even though some of Allen’s books were little more than pamphlets and many were quite obviously promotions for the products that sponsored her.

And yet, as I leaf through cookbook after cookbook written by Myra Waldo, I am impressed with the quality of her writing. Recipes were written straightforwardly, directions are clear and precise. Any one of us could read her cookbooks, today, and follow her instructions.  Sometimes we are gifted with interesting asides such as those in “THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN” in which Myra explains how Baked Alaska was the unexpected and happy result of a laboratory experiment and tells us how sherbets came to 16th century France with Catherine de Medicis, bride of Henry II.  Myra often gives us a food-related history lesson throughout the pages of “THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN”.  This cookbook, incidentally, is another favorite of mine. The stories she shares in COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH are heartwarming. Each chapter begins with a short memoir—and it is here, in this cookbook, that one gets a true sense of who Myra Waldo was.

Another mystery to this most elusive cookbook author is that her books were published by many different publishers, sometimes two different ones in the same year. Oftentimes, an author’s books will be published by the same publisher. (Although someone else who did this were the cookbook authors, The Browns—Cora, Bob, and Rose.  Well, someone else will have to solve that mystery!

Readers of my blog who like cookbooks that are all “from scratch” ingredients would do well to find some of Myra’s cookbooks for your shelves. She was a most incredibly gifted (and beautiful!) writer.

And this is what I found on Google January 15, 2011:

Dateline July 29, 2004

“Myra Waldo, a writer who filled bookshelves with advice on places to see and their customs, died Sunday in her home in Beverly Hills. She was 88 and formerly lived in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  The cause was congestive heart failure, her family said…Myra Waldo was born in Manhattan and attended Columbia University. In 1937 she married Robert J. Schwartz, a lawyer, who died in 1997.  She used her maiden name professionally….” (Obviously, Wolfgang Saxon who wrote this piece – didn’t really KNOW anything about Myra Waldo. He concludes, “Ms. Waldo worked on special projects for the MacMillan Publishing Company in the late 1960s. From 1968 to 1972, she was on the air as food and travel editor of WCBS radio, a job that led to her 1971 “Restaurant Guide to New York City and Vicinity” which she continued to revise into the 1980s.”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME, WOLFGANG?  This is all you had to write about a woman who wrote over FORTY cookbooks? – not including all her books on travel? I would hope that, if I wrote that many cookbooks, someone in my family would compose a better obituary for me. Myra deserved better. I hope that I have given it to her with this tribute.

Jill Holzman, writing for Jewish Journal did considerably better with a short obituary about Myra Waldo Schwartz on August 5. 2004:  “Myra Waldo Schwartz, travel writer, food editor and critic, died July 25 [2004].  A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Myra made numerous television appearances, [had] a radio show on food on New York’s WCBS News Radio 88 and was the food editor for the Baltimore Sun’s This Week Magazine.

She wrote more than 40 books, including “The Complete Round The World Cookbook”, “Seven Wonders of the Cooking World” “The Molly Goldberg Cookbook” and “l,001 ways to Please Your Husband.”

For anyone who wants more proof that Myra Waldo and Colette Black were one and the same person, please note the follow:

All of the following Myra titles are from The Complete Book of Gourmet Cooking (French cooking for the American kitchen). The Colette titles are all from The Art of Parisian Cooking:

Myra – Pate Maison page 7   Colette – page 26 Pate Maison

Myra – Chicken Liver Mousse page 6, Colette – page 26 Chicken Liver Mouse (*amount of cream is ½ cup in one recipe and 1 cup in the other. Remaining ingredients are the same)

Myra – Fondue of Chicken, page 115, Colette – Fondue de Poulet, Page 89

Myra – poached chicken with truffles, page 111, Colette – page 88 supreme de Volaille Demi-Deuil

Myra – Chicken & Sweet Breads with pastry page 118, Colette –  Poulet Et Ris Beau En Pate page 89

Myra – Chicken in cherry Sauce page 106, Colette – Poussin Montmorency page 83

Myra – Fricassee with White Wine, page 97, Colette – Fricassee a la Parisienne, page 84

Myra – Chicken in Red Wine page 96-97, Colette – Coq Au Vin Rouge page 85

Myra – Chicken in Saffron Cream Sauce, page 106, Colette – Poularde Au Safran page 86

There are many more but the special recipe that started our search for the French Connection:

Myra – Beef Burgundy, page 145, Colette – Boeuf Bourguigonne page 67.

I rest my case.

Sandy’s cooknote: A special thank you to John H. in San Diego for all your assistance and insights—particularly in areas in which I have no expertise (writing styles and copyright laws) ©   – Sandra Lee Smith, September 24, 2013

5 responses to “MYRA WALDO REVISITED (SEARCHING FOR THE FRENCH CONNECTION)

  1. This is an intriguing challenge– sadly, I was unable to find any break throughs, so wil anticipate any updates you may be able to post. ;-)

    On another note and in response to earlier invitations from you to post suggestions for topics we might want you to tackle–how about a column on Worst Recipes? (I have at least two candidates, one entitled “My Very Own Escalloped or Au Gratin Potatoes”, which starts out calling for a box of au gratin potatoes . . .???? The second candidate calls for canned sauerkraut and Crisco cooked for two to three hours.

    Happy beginning of Fall,

    Nancy Williams 717-503-0115

    • Nancy, if you send me those two worst recipes – I’ll work on something. I think I even have a cookbook of terrible recipes. might even have a few of my mother’s buried somewhere.
      Thanks for writing. – Sandy

    • Hi, Nancy – I love sauerkraut – but with Crisco? not so much. or, how MUCH Crisco goes into the pot? maybe its a substitute for pork? – sandy

  2. Marita Colasurdo

    Hello, I just purchased Southern Italian Cookery, and was curious about the author, Colette Black, and why she used a pseudonym, as stated on the jacket. Google led me to your informative blog. Thank you for such detailed and interesting background! Marita

    • Hello, Marita; welcome to my blog. I think you will find Myra Waldo a fascinating cookbook author if you continue to search for her work. I spent months trying to learn as much as possible. Thank you for your interest! – Sandy

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