I’ve posted this before–letters continue to come in from people all over the USA who remember Meta Given’s cookbooks with great fondness and, in some cases, are trying to find one of them. This is what I wrote:

Originally on February 14, 2011, I wrote the following blog post: “Abe of asked 500 customers who owned a cookbook that had been given to them by a family member to tell the story about their handed down culinary companions. He wrote, “Those old, splattered, battered cookbooks found on kitchen shelves are also treasured family heirlooms in many cases. According to research by, Irma Rombauer’s The Joy of Cooking is the cookbook most frequently handed down through the generations. The books often spanned several generations of cooks and had huge sentimental value. In 96 per cent of the cases, a grandmother, mother and mother-in-law had handed over the book to the next generation. The books tended to have a long history within each family – 58 per cent of the cookbooks were more than 50 years old. Thirty eight per cent of the current owners said they had owned the book for more than 30 years…”

Well, recently I had the opportunity to hold in my own two hands a copy of JOY that had belonged, for decades, to my sister-in-law, Bunny Schmidt, who passed away from cancer of the esophagus in 2012, about eleven months after my partner Bob passed away from the same disease. It’s a battered and stained Joy, exactly what Abe Books was talking about. I am delivering it to my niece Leslie in a couple weeks. She is the oldest child of my brother and sister in law, Bunny.

The cookbook I grew up on, and learned to cook from, was – as I have written before in Sandychatter—an Ida Bailey Allen Service cookbook that I believe my mother bought for a dollar at Woolworth’s. (I now have that very cookbook, which is certainly battered, tattered and stained. Years later I searched for, and found, more pristine copies).

When I was a teenager, a copy of Meta Given’s “The Modern Family Cookbook” appeared in our family bookcase (a little cherry wood bookcase with glass doors, that my younger sister now has). I think it was a book club offering but that baffles me as neither of my parents ever joined a book club. I have a vague memory of my mother refusing to pay for it and so it languished on the family bookshelves until I began to read it and eventually claimed for my own. And, to add to the mystery, there is no indication on the inside pages of the cookbook that it was ever a book club selection. The original copyright was 1942. This edition was copyrighted by Meta Given in 1953, which sounds about right to me.

Not surprisingly, the pages most stained are those with cookie recipes on them- rocks and hermits, gum drop cookies, something called cocoa Indians, lemon drop cookies and molasses drop. My mother turned me loose in the kitchen when I was 9 or 10 years old and most of the time, I baked cookies. I really wasn’t. interested in cooking anything else at the time.

I now own a copy of the original 1942 “Modern Family Cookbook” which is somewhat thicker and heavier than the 1953 edition. In 1947, Meta compiled “Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking which is in two volumes. I had to laugh at myself; I thought I only had a copy of Volume I but when I began going through some of my old cookbooks in our new built garage library, I found a copy of Volume II.

None of my copies of Meta Given books have dust jackets and therein is the crux of the matter – so often, biographical information can be found on the dust jackets of cookbooks. I began a Google search:

Margi Shrum of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote the following in April, 2009 “I spoke last week to a group of parents of special-needs children, and the conversation turned to old cookbooks. Egads, I love them. My favorite is one my late mother used, “Meta Given’s Encyclopedia of Cooking,” which seems to have been first published in 1947. I have the 1955 edition. It’s chock-a-block with antiquated stuff. I never, and you shouldn’t, use the techniques for canning or preserving foods in these old books, and I am never going to make Muskrat Fricassee (calls for one dressed muskrat. If I could picture what a muskrat looked like I’d picture it dressed in top hat and tails. Carrying a cane). But there’s also a lot of useful stuff in this book, which is in two volumes and has 1,500 pages. I’ve tried loosely over the years to find information about the author but to little avail. She was of some note in the 1940s through the early ’60s, if the popularity of her cookbooks is any indication. Her first was the “The Modern Family Cookbook,” published in 1942.”

Margie adds, “The encyclopedia’s foreword says Ms. Given grew up on a ‘Missouri hill farm’ learning to cook with the limited foodstuffs available to her. She then studied home economics and became involved in developing and testing recipes, and in writing about nutrition, shopping and kitchen equipment. Her foreword to my edition — purchased on eBay and immediately chewed on by my golden retriever puppy, who smelled food — was written from Orlando in 1955….”

May I add that the foreword also states that Meta Given..” had good food (growing up) but little variety. The women were forced to be resourceful in presenting the same simple foods in a variety of interesting ways. She watched food grow on her family’s farm and worked to help it develop into a sound and abundant harvest. She learned to store and preserve a summer’s plenty to last through the winter months. And she acquired from her parents a deep appreciation for the goodness of earth’s bounty…”

Sure enough, Volume II of Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking” offers a recipe for Muskrat Fricasse—as well as recipes for antelope, deer and beaver. It also has a recipe for Hasenpfeffer which I won’t ever be trying. Hasenpfeffer was the bane of my childhood. If you came home from school and smelled it cooking, you knew we were having it for dinner and there was no escape.

Also offered in Volume II are recipes for raccoon, squirrel, woodchuck and turtle. Meta lost me at “evisceration and removal of feathers, removal of fur….” But you know what? Of all the comprehensive cookbooks in my collection, these are surely the most detailed (everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask? I wasn’t afraid to ask—I just never wanted to KNOW).

Elsewhere on Google, someone wrote, “My mother was only 17 years old when she got married. Somewhere in that time, she was given a special two volume cookbook set called Meta Given’s Encyclopedia of Modern Cooking. It was a true cookbook of the 50’s, offering advice so basic, the author must have assumed many of her readers couldn’t boil water. Until Julia Child altered my mother’s views on food, Meta Given’s was the only cookbook in our home. The recipes were so simple and straightforward, I learned to cook from them at a very young age. By the time I was nine years old I could make real fudge, basic one-bowl cakes, quick breads, and peanut butter cookies all by myself. I also learned to make a pumpkin yeast bread when I was slightly older. Over the years my mother’s Meta Given’s cookbook disintegrated into a pile of loose pages. However, I was able to track down a used set several years ago. Although most of the recipes seem outdated, it was quite an experience just holding the cookbook while childhood memories rushed back…”

The following single line clue was also found on Google: “When not penning cookbooks, Ms. Given—I don’t think she’d approve the title, but an extensive Google search fails to reveal her marital status— taught Home Ec at the University of Chicago in the post-World War II years…”

Maybe Meta Given tired of teaching in Chicago and returned to her home in Missouri. We may never know- but if you are interested in finding her books, there are umpteen sites to choose from as you browse through Google.
I have the following:

• The Modern Family Cook Book published in 1942
• Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking Volumes 1 and II published in 1947
• The Modern Family Cook Book, published in 1953

As well as the following, which I do not have:

• The Art of Modern Cooking and Better Meals: recipes for every occasion
• The Modern Family Cook Book New Revised Edition
• The Modern Family Cook Book by Meta Given 1968
• The Wizard Modern Family Cookbook
• Delicious Dairy Dishes

On August 10, 2011 someone named Don posted the following comment:

Hi Sandy, Please let me know if you ever find out what happened to Meta Given. I have been going through some old family letters and it turns out that my great aunt, Helen Swadey, was her assistant in the 40′s and 50′s. She would help with the writing and arranging the final meals for the photo shoot. Thanks! Don

I sent Don the following message: “Hi, Don – how interesting that your great aunt worked for Meta Given! I HAVEN’T learned anything more than what I wrote but maybe someone will read this and write, if they know anything else about her. Oddly enough I have had emails from a number of people, in response to other cookbook authors I have written about – so there’s always a possibility that someone will see the inquiry and shed some light on this prolific and excellent cookbook author. Now, that would have been a job I’d have loved – assistant to Meta Given! Let me know if you learn anything else.

On February 2, someone named Brenda sent the following message to my blog:
I am preparing a Birthday Party for my mother who turns 80 this July. We are having a picnic theme, and we are replacing my mother’s Meta Given Cookbooks with a better set. The sisters of the family are HUGE fans of Meta Given, and I am trying to find anything out about her to have it framed for my mother to put in her kitchen. She raised all of us girls using this cookbook and we all have copies!! I know I am a little late adding this comment, but can you or anyone help me out? Sincerely, Brenda

On February 22, 2012, Karen wrote the following message: I had to comment because one of my earliest memories of Thanksgiving is my mother and grandmother quoting Meta Given about making turkey gravy: “You can only make so much fine favored gravy.” I haven’t even looked at the recipe in years, but must admit that I do know how to make fine flavored gravy and I don’t even eat gravy! Thanks Meta. I have my grandmother’s copy. My mother still has and uses her own copy. My oldest daughter has her other grandmother’s 2 book set. Over the years, I have managed to collect one of the single book editions for my sister and two copies of the 2 book sets for my sisters-in-law. Just recently, I finally got the single book edition for my youngest daughter. We are a family devoted to Meta Given, which is why I found your blog. I was looking for some information about her and started to do some research. So, if you find out anything else about her, I’d be delighted to hear it and then I will in turn share it with the rest of the family. Thanks!

On February 25 2012, Neil sent the following message: I’m a 44-year old single guy who grew up with a mother who occasionally whipped out this tattered, index-missing BIBLE. I have no other name for it… other then the BIBLE that was in our kitchen. Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. The version I’m most familiar with is the single volume gem published in 1955 on its EIGHTEENTH printing (35,000 copies). My mom was inspired by the “White Sauce” in that book – creamed onions were a Thanksgiving tradition. Like most people who are reading this, when I finally understood the power of Google I FINALLY had a chance to have my own copy of this piece of history – it’s WAY more than a cookbook and we all know it. I paid almost $200 because I just had to have it. Since then I purchased a “backup” copy – you know… just in case. That one is in a safe room where the temperature and humidity is just right. A few years ago I stumbled upon a dessert recipe that blew me away – Lemon Chiffon Custard on page 746 in my book. “A puffy cake-like topping and a creamy custard bottom layer.” OMG”

On May 2, 2013, Janice King Smith sent the following message: “According to census reports she (Meta Given) returned to her hometown of Bourbios, MO, and later relocated to Florida. Being from the general area, I was happy to have The Modern Family in my collection and enjoy seeing the differences between how she prepared the meal versus what we were taught by my grandma who lived during the same time frame literally 3-4 hours away from each other.”

On May 24, 2012 Anna wrote the following message: I am doing a little research on Meta Given… My Mother’s maiden name was Given. I was told Meta Given was a Great Aunt of mine from Missouri that wrote cookbooks, and I have all copies of her cookbooks, and learned to cook from them. The books I have were been passed down through the years from my grandmother..Ruby Given, to my mother Anna Jane Given, and now to me. I will be passing them on someday to my children and grandchildren!

On June 22, 2012 Gil wrote the following: I have the 1953 version of Meta Given’s Modern Family Cookbook. I turn to this book when I need to know how I should cook a vegetable that won’t be listed in most cookbooks and I have more than 100. I am going to cook turnips today and I want to know a cooking time. I recently checked in this book for a cooking time for beets. I have two of these books but one is so battered that I am afraid to open it.
Gil Wilbur Claymont,DE.

Now, many months later, after years of searching and speculating about the unknown later life of Meta Given, my new-found friend, Bonnie Slotnick, who owns a cookbook store in New York** (see address at end of article) managed to unearth information about Meta that no one has been able to discover.

It turns out that food writer Jane Nickerson***, writing for the Lakeland Ledger in 1981, interviewed Meta and in an article that appeared in the December 10,m 1981 Lakeland Ledger food column, discovered “the rest of the story” –the details no one knew about Meta Given once she disappeared from the cookbook publishing limelight.

By Jane Nickerson, writing for the Lakeland Ledger on December 10, — wrote the following: “A few lines the other day in this paper reporting the death of Lakelander Meta Given in no way hinted the professionalism of that nonogenarian, [sic] author of the monumental, two-volume cookbook ‘Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking.’

That brilliant work, published in 1947 by J.G. Ferguson and later distributed by Doubleday, contained in its 1969 edition 1,665 pages, 71 tables and charts, 230 photographs in black-and-white and color, 2,906 tested recipes and more than 200 drawings. Considerably in excess of a million copies are now in use.

Born and reared on a farm in the Ozarks, where, as she once put it, ‘my parents had no money,’ Miss Given remained throughout a vigorous life essentially modest and straightforward.

At 15, she had finished her own education, or so she thought, and was teaching in a rural grade school. Later she instructed high-school students in physics, chemistry and agriculture.

But she began to feel she needed more training. In 1916, she enrolled in the University of Chicago to study a subject still in its infancy at that time—home economics. She went on to work for the Evaporated milk Association, developing recipes for that trade group. Then came a stint as food editor of the Chicago Tribune”.

“But the Depression came along,” Meta told Jane in a 1975 interview, “and in 1931, the Tribune fired me. By that time I had my own test kitchen and staff and was also doing freelance work in recipe development and food photography for Kraft and other companies.

“I couldn’t fire my staff. But the jobs that came along were spasmodic, and so to keep my people busy, I started them working on a household cookbook.” In 1942, J. G. Ferguson, a Chicago printer whom Miss Given had consulted, published the “Modern Family Cookbook.” From it, the encyclopedia developed.

A heart attack in the late 1940s persuaded Miss Given she should pursue a quieter life. The tall, spare, broad-shouldered woman, with a coronet of white hair, wound up her hectic career in Chicago, and retired to Florida, where, among other things, she grew oak leaf lettuce and developed recipes for pies using loquats and other local fruits.

Her inborn modesty made her hard to interview. Among the first “career women” in this century, she wore her accomplishments lightly, and could not understand why anyone should be especially interested in recording them.

This article was unearthed for us by Bonnie Slotnick of Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks 163 West Tenth Street New York, New York 10014-3116 USA –so if you are searching for your mother or grandmother’s tried-and true-cookbook you might want to contact Bonnie.

Happy cooking and happy cookbook collecting!

UPDATE! May 10, 2015

If you have ever read the above, which was posted on my blog February 11, 2011, under the title “Searching for Meta Given”, you will no doubt notice the many readers who have written about Meta Given – – mostly people who had her cookbooks or were looking for them.

*why the red italics? Because, I thought—it was because Meta couldn’t bring herself to fire her staff during a particular stringent period, she put them to work on a cookbook – a cookbook which turned out to be the nucleus of the two volume cookbooks published in 1947, that people are searching for still, today. Some of whom are paying big bucks for! But I get it. As all of you know, you who have some of Meta Given’s cookbooks—they are timeless, recipes you can follow from start to stop without wondering if it will turn out right. And there is hardly a topic that Meta doesn’t write about!

**Looking for a particular old cookbook? Contact Bonnie Slotnick at or at 163 W. 10th Street, NY NY 10014-3116

***Jane Nickerson, food writer for the Lakeland Ledger also wrote a cookbook about Florida food and recipes. Jane passed away March 2, 2000. She was employed as a food writer from 1973 to 1988 for the Lakeland Ledger.

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith with a special thank you to everyone who ever wrote to request or provide information. A special thanks to Bonnie Slotnick whose culinary sleuthing provided “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say.

=–Sandra Lee Smith

Chef Louis Szathmary – a Tribute to the Master

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The following was sent to me recently via an email:


Louis Szathmary, a larger-than-life chef, teacher, writer and philanthropist who operated The Bakery restaurant here from 1963 to 1989, died Friday at Illinois Masonic Hospital after a brief illness. He was 77.

After selling his restaurant, he became chef laureate at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., considered the world’s largest food-service educator. His 400,000-item culinary arts collection of memorabilia and books, valued in excess of $2 million, is housed at the university.

In recent years, Chef Szathmary divided his time between Providence and Chicago, where his food-service consulting firm was located. At the time of his death, he was working on two books and was active on the editorial advisory board of Biblio magazine.

Other donations he made from a personal library that totaled 45,000 books included a Franz Liszt collection to Boston University, cookbooks to the University of Iowa and a Hungarian collection to the University of Chicago.

A native of Hungary with a doctorate in psychology from the University of Budapest, Louis Szathmary immigrated to the United States in 1951. After cooking in restaurants and corporate dining rooms, he went into food-service research. He came to Chicago in 1959 as manager of new product development for Armour and Co. and opened his restaurant four years later.

The Bakery, at 2218 N. Lincoln Ave., brought continental flair to the local restaurant scene. Its signature dish, an individual beef Wellington, became one of the city’s claims to gastronomic fame. The restaurant’s success also made its owner a celebrity–a forerunner of the outspoken New American chefs who came to prominence in the 1970s and ’80s.

Of considerable girth with silver hair and a sweeping white mustache, Chef Szathmary was the center of attention in his restaurant dining room. He was described as indefatigable, witty, unique, blustery, egotistical and sensual by various writers.

As a book author, newspaper columnist, radio broadcaster and lecturer, the chef spoke out on subjects as diverse as convenience foods and restaurant critics. (Unlike most classically trained chefs, he was for convenience foods and helped develop frozen and dehydrated food products for companies such as Stouffer and Armour and for NASA. As for critics, “They can’t tell shiitake from Shinola,” he liked to say.)

Chef Szathmary also was active in a campaign in the mid-1970s to persuade the U.S. Department of Labor to elevate chefs from the category of “domestic” laborers.

His books were “The Chef’s Secret Cook Book,” “Sears Gourmet Cooking Forum,” “American Gastronomy,” “The Chef’s New Secret Cook Book,” and “The Bakery Restaurant Cookbook.” He also was editor of the 15-volume “Cookery America” and “Antique American Cookbooks.”

He was honored as a “living legend” by Food Arts Magazine, the Illinois Restaurant Association and the James Beard Foundation. He was scheduled to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Penn State University Hotel Society in April 1997. One of his favorite tributes came in 1990 when the alley behind The Bakery was renamed Szathmary Lane by the Chicago City Council.

Survivors include his wife, Sada; a daughter, Magda; and a brother.

A private funeral will be held in Chicago on Oct. 12. A public memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Oct. 24 in Bond Chapel of the University of Chicago, 1025 E. 58th St. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the Museum Acquisition Fund of the Culinary Archives & Museum at Johnson & Wales University.
I first became curious about Chef Louis Szathmary when I was writing articles for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange in the 1990s. At the time, there was not much I knew about him other than what appeared on dust jackets of his books. I started out initially with the idea of writing capsule biographies about some of the most prominent chefs.

Finding chefs to write about was no problem—there are so many, especially nowadays, when hundreds, if not thousands, of four-star restaurants throughout the USA all boasting of their own super-chefs, who in turn frequently write cookbooks. I must have several dozen chef-authored cookbooks on my bookshelves. Other famous chefs appear on television and cable cooking shows; many of them have become familiar household names and faces. Who isn’t familiar with Rachel Ray and Paula Dean, Bobbie Flay and dozens of other TV chefs?

Many of the old-time chefs and cooking teachers of the 1800s – women such as Fannie Farmer, Miss Leslie, Mrs. Lincoln and others have been written about in depth by other writers.

I wanted tell you about some other super-chefs, starting with one you may not know much about.

My favorite Chef is Louis Szathmary! (Pronounced ZATH-ma-ree). Szathmary had an incredibly fascinating life.

Louis Szathmary, described by one writer as “a heavyset man with a generous face and large bushy mustache “(a description that matches the face on the cover of “The Chef’s Secret Cook Book”) was, surprisingly, a Hungarian who had a doctorate in psychology from the University of Budapest and a master’s degree in journalism. Szathmary was born in Hungary on June 2, 1919, reportedly on a freight train while his family fled invading Soviet troops. He learned to cook in the Hungarian army. After service in the Hungarian army during World War II, Szathmary spent time in a succession of German and Soviet prison camps and thereafter was a displaced person confined to the American occupation zone in Austria. He lived in Austria and other Western European countries before coming to the USA in 1951.

A few clues to Szathmary’s background appear in the preface to “AMERICA EATS”, by Nelson Algren. “AMERICA EATS” was published in 1992 as part of the Iowa Szathmary Arts Series. Szathmary, who knew Algren personally—and purchased the manuscript from him–wrote the introduction to “AMERICA EATS”. (Nelson Algren was a fiction writer and the author of “THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM” which won the first National Book Award. In addition to writing fiction and poetry, Algren also wrote two travel books. “AMERICA EATS” was his only cookbook).

What cookbook collector hasn’t heard of the Iowa Szathmary Culinary Arts Series? But, in case you haven’t, briefly, Louis Szathmary, in addition to being a chef and the owner of the famed Bakery Restaurant in Chicago for many years, was a cookbook collector. Actually, Szathmary didn’t just collect cookbooks—he amassed an enormous collection of rare cookbooks, scarce pamphlets and unique manuscripts spanning five centuries of culinary art. He had a collection of twelve thousand books devoted to what he called “Hungarology” – books about his native country – which were eventually donated to the University of Chicago Joseph Regenstein Library. Ten thousand books of Hungarian literature were donated to Indiana University while a small collection of composer Franz Liszt’s letters was given to Boston University.

Johnson & Wales University, the world’s largest school devoted to the food and service industry, was the recipient of over 200,000 assorted items, described as a treasure trove of historical artifacts, which filled sixteen trailer trucks used to make the transfer to the school. There were antique kitchen implements, cheese graters, meat grinders, nut crackers, raisin seeders, chocolate molds, books and even menus.

Included in the gift to Johnson & Wales was “a collection within the collection”, a presidential autograph archive that included documents dealing in one way or another with food, drink, or entertainment, written or signed by every American chief executive. In George Washington’s handwriting is a list of table china he inherited from a relative. A handwritten letter from Mary Todd Lincoln invites a friend from Baltimore to the White House for an evening of relaxation. In a penciled note to his wife, Julia, Ulysses S. Grant asks that two bottles of champagne be sent to the oval office for a reception with congressional leaders. (Szathmary referred to this collection “from George to George”, meaning from George Washington to George Bush). His gift to Johnson & Wales has been attracting thousands of visitors since opening to the public—I believe it! I would love to go to Rhode Island just to see the collection!

The autograph collection includes items written by other historic figures, from Napoleon Bonaparte to Charles Dickens, as well as a note from the fourth earl of Sandwich, inventor of the most frequently ordered food item in the world.

If all of this were not mind-boggling enough, in addition, Szathmary donated over 20,000 cookbooks to the University of Iowa Libraries, creating the Szathmary Collection of Culinary Arts. Almost overnight, according to David Schoonover, the library’s rare book curator, the institution became a “major research center in the culinary arts”.
The University of Iowa Press, in conjunction with the University of Iowa Libraries, publishes reprints, new editions, and translations of important cookbooks from the collection of Chef Szathmary. It must have given Chef Szathmary great satisfaction to witness the birth of the Szathmary Culinary Arts Series. Each title presents an unusually interesting rarity from the collection he donated to the institution. One of these published books was “AMERICA EATS”, which I have in my own collection.

“In my native Hungary,” Szathmary wrote for “AMERICA EATS”, “I was raised in a bookish family. From my great-grandfather on my father’s side, my forebears were all book collectors, and when I had to leave just hours before the Soviet army arrived in the Transylvania city where I resided and worked in the fall of 1944, I had already inherited and amassed a sizable number of books, mainly on Hungarian literature and other Hungarian subjects…”

However, Szathmary arrived, in his own words, “virtually penniless” in New York in 1951, with only fourteen books in his small wooden trunk. He appeared to have been fond of telling the story of arriving on our shores with $1.10 in his pocket, one change of underwear, two pairs of socks, one Sunday suit – and fourteen books. (It is worth noting that the 14 books Szathmary treasured most were not donated to any of the universities. The books he carried with him to America included a Bible he received as a child, three books on Mozart and several volumes of Hungarian poetry).

Upon his arrival in America, Szathmary began to collect books. Writes Szathmary, “My first purchase was a book by Ludwig Bemelmans at the Marlboro outlet store at 42nd Street and Broadway, where in 1952 all the remainder books were sold for nineteen cents each.” Szathmary confessed that he worked two jobs in the beginning, one during the day and another at night—and spent all the money he made on books. Of his early days in America, Szathmary said that he would spend hours in the Salvation Army basement searching for books, which he purchased for as little as five cents each. He said, “I rummaged through books in bins, on tables outside the door, and amid the garbage the accumulates in the back of used bookshops. I found treasures—valuable items—because I had the time.” Later, as time and money improved, he often worked at one job during the day and another in the evening. On the seventh day, he recalled, “I spent all the money I made on books.” (A man after my own heart!)

He continued to collect books while at the same time, as his interest in culinary arts and food management grew, he began to collect books in these fields as well.

Szathmary and his wife Sadako Tanino, owned and operated The Bakery Restaurant in Chicago for 26 years. It grossed more than $1 million a year for much of the time he was in business—and this was a restaurant that served only five dinners a week, no lunch, no bar and no “early birds”.

Szathmary authored several cookbooks of his own, including “THE CHEF’S SECRET COOK BOOK”, “THE CHEF’S NEW SECRET COOK BOOK”, “THE BAKERY RESTAURANT COOK BOOK” and “AMERICAN GASTRONOMY”. He was advisory editor for a series of 27 cookbooks, in 15 volumes, titled “COOKERY AMERICANA”, for which he also provided introductions. (I only have three of the volumes from the series at this time, “MIDWESTERN HOME COOKERY” and “MRS. PORTER’S NEW SOUTHERN COOKERY BOOK”, and “COOL, CHILL, AND FREEZE”. These are facsimile editions of earlier cookbooks. Szathmary seems to have been utterly dedicated to American cookery and cookbooks.

Szathmary was a prolific writer, and in addition to cookbooks, also wrote poetry. Additionally, he wrote a food column for the Chicago Daily News, and then in the Sun-Times every week for twelve years! Maybe he felt he didn’t have enough to do, for after closing the restaurant, he continued to operate Szathmary Associates, a food system design and management consulting business, and he devoted a great deal of time to what he described as “the matter of the books”. He also continued to lecture and worked continuously on new projects.

What is particularly intriguing about Szathmary as a chef is, I think, his wide range of expertise. So many of the super chefs today focus on one type of cooking. Szathmary, who could have devoted himself to solely to Hungarian cuisine, seems to have adopted the American potpourri of cookery, which embraces many nationalities. He was famous for his Continental cuisine, in particular his Beef Wellington.

What you also may not know about Szathmary is that he developed the first frozen dinners for Stouffer Food Corp. He worked as product development manager for Armour Food, coming up with new foods and ways to prepare them. Szathmary also designed a kitchen for military field hospitals that could be dropped by parachute and assembled quickly in combat zones.

At The Bakery, Szathmary’s restaurant in Chicago, he dominated the dining room with his commanding presence. He’d walk around in rolled up sleeves, wearing an apron, often telling diners in his booming voice, what to order – or to ask them why something was left on a plate. His customers at The Bakery appear to have provided the inspiration for “THE CHEF’S SECRET COOK BOOK”. In the introduction, Szathmary said he gave recipes to ladies who visited his restaurant. Apparently, they often accused him of leaving something out!

Szathmary wrote, “When I tell the ladies that I am able to give them everything except my long years of experience, they still look suspicious. So once again I launch into my best explanation, an old record played over and over again, which goes something like this: If you go to a concert and listen to Arthur Rubinstein playing the MEPHISTO WALTZ of Franz Liszt, and if you go and see him backstage after the performance and ask him for the piano notes, and if through some miracle he gives them to you, and you take them home and sit down at your piano (untouched for years), open up the notes and play the Mephisto Waltz and your husband says ‘Darling, it doesn’t sound like Arthur Rubenstein—“ what do you tell him?

Probably this: Oh, what a selfish artist! He left out something from the notes, I’m sure. Because when I play it, it doesn’t sound like when he plays it.

Well, dear ladies,” concluded the great chef, “Do you really think Rubenstein left out some of the notes? Or do you think his talent had something to do with it—and his daily practice for years and years and years?

You see, my dear ladies, cooking is just like playing the piano—it needs talent, training and practice.”

Szathmary concluded, “The best-kept secret of the good chef is his long training and daily performance. It’s not enough to make a dish once and when it’s not up to standard, to declare, ‘the recipe is no good.’” A specialty of “The Chef’s New Secret Cookbook”—if you manage to obtain a copy—is that each recipe is followed by a “chef’s secret” – Szathmary, throughout his life, was enormously generous – sharing his recipes, his collections, everything in his life. It saddens me that I never met him—but curiously, I sometimes feel, as I am typing, that he is looking over my shoulder and nodding his approval.
Szathmary spearheaded culinary education in Chicago by fostering work study programs with restaurants at vocational and high schools. Students and dining enthusiasts were invited to use the library on the second floor of The Bakery. He shared a passion for travel by assisting first time travelers with their plans to visit Europe and Asia.

Szathmary chose, on his own, to donate the bulk of his collections to various universities and institutions. Aside from Szathmary’s incredible generosity, what a wise move to make! Can you think of any better way to make sure the things you love most will be treasured by future generations, people who are certain to love your books as much as you do?

Szathmary explained that he had always bought books for various reasons. ‘When you bet on the horse race,” he said, “You bet for win, for place, for show. When you buy books, you buy some to read, some to own, and some for reference. You want to possess the books, you want to own them, you want to hold them. Perhaps you even hope that you will read them….’ (As a book collector myself, I completely understand this philosophy—it’s never been enough just to read my books – I have to own them too). 

And after having donated hundreds of thousands of books and documents to these different universities, Szathmary confessed “I am still buying books. It’s like getting pregnant after the menopause; it’s not supposed to happen.”

My all-time favorite Szathmary story is written in an article about obsessed amateurs. Writer Basbanes met Szathmary as the transfer of some 200,000 articles to the warehouses at Johnson & Wales was taking place. Szathmary was overseeing the transfer of his collection. Where, Basbanes asked the great chef, had he stored all this material?

With a twinkle in his hazel-brown eyes, Szathmary said, “My restaurant was very small, just one hundred and seventeen chairs downstairs for the customers to sit. But I owned the whole building, you see, and upstairs there were thirty-one rooms in seventeen apartments. That’s where I kept all the books”.

For many of us, we recognize in Louis Szathmary a kindred spirit. How to explain to non-collecting people the love of searching, finding, owning treasured books? One can only hope there are lots of books in Heaven. Meanwhile, here on earth, Louis Szathmary has left us with a wondrous legacy.

“SEARS GOURMET COOKING” was published in 1969.

“THE CHEF’S SECRET COOK BOOK” was published in 1972 by Quadrangle Books and is packed with mouth-watering recipes and lots of “Chef’s secrets” – tips provided by the master himself. “The Chef’s Secret Cook Book” was on the New York Times bestseller list for several years.

“AMERICAN GASTRONOMY” was published in 1974.

“THE CHEF’S NEW SECRET COOKBOOK” was published in 1976 and

“THE BAKERY RESTAURANT COOKBOOK” was published in 1981.

Szathmary also edited a fifteen volume collection of historic American cookbooks. One of the volumes in this series is “Cool, Chill and Freeze/A new Approach to Cookery” which I purchased from This is a reproduction, with introduction and suggested recipes from Louis Szathmary, of recipes from “FLORIDA SALADS” by Frances Barber Harris, originally published in 1926, and Alice Bradley’s ‘ELECTRIC REFRIGERATOR MENUS AND RECIPES”, first published in 1928 (oddly enough, I have both of the originals).

Included in the Iowa Szathmary Culinary Arts Series are “THE CINCINNATI COOKBOOK”, “RECEIPTS OF PASTRY AND COOKERY FOR THE USE OF HIS SCHOLARS”, “THE KHWAN NIAMUT OR NAWAB’S DOMESTIC COOKERY” (originally published in 1839 in Calcutta for European colonials living in India), “P.E.O. COOK BOOK” and the previously mentioned “AMERICA EATS” by Nelson Algren.

Since embarking on the life of Louis Szathmary, I have purchased three of his cookbooks from Alibris.Com on the Internet – they have a great listing! The most recent to arrive is a copy of “The Bakery Restaurant Cookbook” which I was delighted to discover is autographed by the great chef—who was something of an artist, too! (Why am I not surprised?).

His ‘autograph’ is the face of a chef, wearing a white chef’s hat.

Louis Szathmary was a member of the United States Academy of Chefs, the Chef de Cuisine Association of Chicago, and the Executive Chefs’ Association of Illinois. In 1974, he was awarded the coveted titled of Outstanding Culinarian by the Culinary Institute of America, and in 1977, he was elected Man of the Year by the Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society. He was considered by many to be the “homemakers best friend”, a master chef who willingly shared his secrets of culinary expertise with the world. His cookbooks read in a friendly, chatty way, making me wish with all my heart I could have known….this super chef! You would be wise to make an effort to add his books—if you don’t already own them—to your cookbook collection. Louis Szathmary was, above all, an excellent chef.

Nicholas Basbanes, in his article about Chef Louis for Biblio, described his first meeting with “this delightful, compassionate, brilliant man with the big white mustache”, relating “when I asked how it feels to give away books that were such an indelible part of his generous soul, Chef Szathmary responded, “The books I give away now, they stay in my heart, just like all the others. I don’t have to see them to love them.”
After writing about Louis Szathmary for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, I wrote about him again, on my blog, Sandychatter, which began in March, 2009. I wrote my updated article about Szathmary in 2011. To date, the post has received 131 messages—and THAT is what has inspired me to write about my favorite chef again.

In January, 2011 someone named Nancy wrote: “Sandy – I had the pleasure of working as one of Chef Louis’ personal assistants from 1985-1986. He certainly was a fascinating character and very aware of his own importance in cooking history. In addition to his extensive cookbook collection which included favorite church and community cookbooks (a personal favorite) Chef Louis also had an extensive post card collection. Seeing your blog about him brought back wonderful memories”.

In February, 2011, someone named Sue wrote: “Thank you so much for writing about Mr. Szathmary! I only ate at The Bakery twice, as I lived several hours away, but both times he came into the restaurant and greeted each table – such a new thing for a Midwesterner in the 70s & 80s. I have eaten in many famous restaurants since then but this first experience with great food and an interesting chef, in a unique setting, will always remain the most memorable and the best! I have all of his cookbooks and have slowly tried to collect the Americana series though some have been impossible to find.”

In March, 2011 a man named Dennis wrote: “Hi, Sandy-My wife and I had a ‘colorful’ experience working with/for Chef Louis, similar, it seems, to Grant Aschatz’s time with Charlie Trotter. Our first night in the city, the Chef bid us dine at the Bakery at his expense…but tip well! — it was great. Coincidentally, we sat at a table next to Mike and Sue Petrich; he was a wine representative for Mirassou wines. After dinner, the Petrichs and we went upstairs to our modest 3rd floor apartment rented to us by the Chef and his delightful wife, Sada. We survived four months and had a colorful story resulting from each day with the Chef. Barbara Kuch was there and incredibly helpful. The staff was wonderful. Our “larger than life” Chef brought old-world training values to his new world – such a challenge…for all. He was unbelievably generous and painfully demanding — beyond professional. Sadly, I had to witness the Chef physically threatening a very young apprentice for “f—ing up the chocolate moose.” Conversely, when my wife’s father was dying of cancer, the Chef said, “Shhh – don’t tell Sada – here is $250 for your flight home to see your dad.” I know Beethoven has an emotional breadth unequalled by all others musically; similar was Chef Szathmary in the realms of cuisine and people. Sandy – thanks for sharing; thanks for listening…there’s so much more. Thanks for the opportunity. Sincerely – d’crabb”

As you can imagine, pieces of a puzzle – the puzzle about the enigmatic Louis Szathmary – began to fall into place, through the Internet, through readers finding my article about him and wanting to share their experiences with the one and only Chef Louis.

In April, 2011, I received the following message from Helen “Hi Sandy, I must add my story. When I was about 35 years old I was married to a Hungarian. My name then was Muranyi. I was working in Chicago selling radio advertising. Unwittingly I made an in person sales call on Louis. He roared at the thought that he might need advertising. He explained that reservations were filled weeks in advance. However, he was such a sweetheart he invited me to his library to see his 14th century Hungarian cookbook and his test kitchen. Needless to say at his invitation my husband and I did dine there as often as possible and it was the “special” restaurant for occasions for the children. The two younger never got to go as they were too young and grudgingly bring it up still as adults that were cheated. Always when we did dine there we received a special appetizer (usually a baked white fish in white sauce) that we noticed other diners were not served. Could it have been that the reservation was made in the name Muranyi? Usually we had a tableside visit from Louis and sometimes his cute little Japanese wife. Actually I am searching for some information on her artwork that she had on the walls made from the wine corks. If you could be helpful in any way I would be grateful for any information or help. Those were special memories for my family. **

In July, 2011, someone named Juan wrote the following message: “Sandy, did you know that Chef Louis was responsible for the lobbying initiative that changed the US government’s classification of food service workers from ‘domestics’ to ‘professionals’. Chef Louis did, indeed, have a temper . . . . I worked there throughout my adolescence -Saturdays, school breaks, summer vacations- and I managed to get myself on the receiving end of it from time to time. Miss Lenegan (as Barbara Kuck often affectionately addressed Nancy) can attest to that! It took me a while, but I eventually realized that much of Chef Louis’ temper came from the fact that he cared deeply for and had high expectations of every single member of his “family” at The Bakery.

There were three different collage themes at The Bakery. Matchbooks, corks and obsolete currency. All of them were made by Louis and his wife Sadako (affectionately known as Sada or Auntie Sada) nee Tanino. The matchbook collages decorated the front room; the cork collages decorated “The Cork Room” (the main dining room); and the currency collages decorated “The Money Room” (the front room of the southernmost of the three storefronts used for private parties, banquets and the many cultural/social events that Louis hosted for the Hungarian community. could go on and on…….”

And in December, 2011, someone named Gabriele wrote the following: “How strange to come upon this blog today — I just happened to be wondering whether Sada was still alive and ran a Google search on her, and in the process came across your blog (which is quite lovely, by the way!).
I, too, worked with Chef Louis, but not in the kitchen. I was a part-time secretary who took dictation and typed up correspondence, articles, and whatever Chef needed. This was in 1993 and continued off and on for several years. My very young daughter came with me and stayed in her playpen except for lunchtime. She thought Chef Louis was Santa Claus!
He was working on a cookbook introduction and would ask me how to word things because he wanted to keep his Hungarian style while using proper English. It could be quite a challenge at times, and was always interesting. His wife, lovely Sada, was the epitome of grace, kindness and hospitality.

Chef Louis and I had some very interesting conversations about the Austro-Hungarian Empire as I had spent a college year in Baden bei Wien, Austria. He and lovely Sada will stay in my memories until I die. Thank you for such a wonderful post..”

Near the end of 2011, someone named Joan wrote the following message: “This is great!! I lived in Chicago until recently and LOVED Chef Szathmary and the restaurant. He was always generous and helpful and gave me perfect information re: products etc. Which brings me to why I was surfing his name. He had recommended a meat thermometer which I bought and which a guest recently broke, and I’ve been unable to find on line. It’s a La Pine (made in Switzerland). I see in his early correspondence that he’d provided a “form” to order it but I didn’t keep a copy. Do you by any chance have info regarding where I could look to order another??? Thank you so much!!!

Tributes to Chef Louis Szathmary continued to come throughout 2012:

In January, someone named Sue wrote: “…thanks for the write up on the Chef! I have his cookbook he signed for me with his legendary signature (he’d use 2 or 3 colored markers) where he made the L in Louis into a caricature of himself…the mustache, the chef hat were all drawn into the capital script L. I helped him with food prep for a tv show he was taping in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 70′s…I was only 12 or 13… he used my mom’s kitchen/stove to cook the turkey in the brown paper bag that he was going to pull from the oven on the show. Even though I was so young, he left a HUGE impression! I have used that cookbook so much that the pages are falling apart and I know it’s a treasure. Thanks for writing about him. I think part of the reason I love to try recipes, cook, etc… because of him. He was a very interesting man and larger than life… I am very privileged to have had the opportunity to have met him..”.

In March 2012, Kathy wrote “A wonderful treat to read all the comments….and stroll down the Hungarian lane….what a loss that there are not as many Hungarian restaurants to enjoy all the blessings of food, people, and their talents…one in Michigan called ‘Rhapsody’ was wonderful!! Thanks to all for sharing your stories….I will be looking for the Chef Szathmary cookbooks!!”

I have deliberately omitted all my response to messages but I thought this one was pertinent. I wrote the following back to Kathy: “thanks for writing! Thought I’d add a line – a few years ago I was visiting friends who live around central Oregon and they took me to a wonderful Hungarian restaurant for lunch. It was, for me, like stepping back in time. After lunch I spoke with the owner and told him my Hungarian connection, friends we’d had back in the 1960s – and he actually knew some of those Hungarian men – they had been Freedom fighters in the 1956 Hungarian revolution. Many escaped to the USA to avoid prosecution. I love Hungarian food, and also love the individual stories…”

In April, 2012, someone named Mike wrote: “ Hi Sandy, Thanks for posting the article about Chef Louis. He was my great-uncle. I only met him in person once but what a day! His library was massive and that was after he had given away many books. The food he cooked for us was exceedingly rich but very tasty. It’s easy to see why he shut down The Bakery, that style of food is long out of favor. I’m thinking it was easily a 2,000 calorie meal. But it was sublime food. Sada is an amazing woman and a lot of fun to be around..”

The next message I am copying (after leaving out many short messages from blog readers), is important because it comes from an employee of the University of Iowa. In November, 2012, I received the following from Colleen Theisen: Thank you for your wonderful article. If you want to see some of Chef Szathmáry’s collection we have digitized the handwritten cookbooks and put them online to be transcribed. You can find them here on our crowd sourcing page:
Colleen Theisen
Outreach & Instruction Librarian
Special Collections & University Archives
University of Iowa

Then, in December, 2012 came a message from someone else who worked for the Chef. I received the following from someone named Andrew: “I met Chef Louis in the summer of 1953 when I was a school boy trying to be a kitchen help at the Jesuit Manresa Inst. in So. Norwalk, Connecticut where he was the Head Chef cooking three meals seven days a week for 250 or so Jesuits. To my good fortune I was able to keep up the relationship right up to the time he died in 1996. My two sons spent one summer each at his The Bakery Restaurant also as kitchen help. I was fortunate to have eaten at the Chef’s restaurant twice the last being when he had his 70th birthday bash at The Bakery. Chef Louis was kind to invite my wife and I to several events at the Johnson and Wales Culinary Museum and a private dinner at Dartmouth. If there ever was a “Most Unforgettable Character” he was it, while being a genuine Renaissance Man. May he rest in peace..”
Still in December, 2012, came this email from a man named Charles, a boyhood classmate of Chef Louis: “Upon reading your history of Louis Szathmary and The Bakery Restaurant, I felt it appropriate to send this letter detailing several reminiscences of my time with Louis. He was a good friend since our school days in Hungary, and I am hoping you enjoy these stories as you share them with others.

It is proper that I introduce myself. My name is Károly (Kahroy, Anglicized later to Charles) Bartha (the h is silent), third grade student (14 years old) at the Reformed high-school in Sp, in the Northeastern part of Hungary.
It is September of 1937. The pupils were excited to hear the news that two students were transferring: brothers, one in the first grade, the other in the fifth. (There were eight grades then). Géza (Gayzaw), the younger was in my brother’s class and lived with us in the same dormitory. The older, Lajos, immediately acquired the nickname, Poci (Potzi, one with a pouch) because of his large size around the waist.

For the Pentecost holiday next year, we received a four-day vacation. Because the brothers lived too far and the train fares were too costly, they decided to remain in Sarospatak. I asked them if they would like to spend the vacation with us. They accepted gladly. We arrived in Viss (Vish), my birthplace of about 1100 residents, unannounced. My father was the school-master for the Protestant (mostly Reformed), Jewish, and Gypsy (now Romany) pupils there.

My motherly grandparents lived with us and three more brothers in the same household. Although my parents were surprised, they welcomed the boys warmly.

There was not much to do in a hamlet with unpaved roads and without electricity. Our guests fit in fine immediately. Luckily, Lajos took along his set of pastel chalks and proceeded to make an excellent portrait of my grandpa. (Louis had a copy of it in Chicago.) Next day, he painted a picture of the mountain of Tokaj (Tokawy) and another of a manually operated ferry-boat on the bend of the nearby river, Bodrog.

Géza visited our vineyard and helped with the tedious job of red currant picking.

They went to church with us, where my father was the organist. I think they had a good time with us.

During his second year in Sarospatak, Lajos became the president of the school’s Literary and Debating Society. His talent for writing surfaced shortly and was greatly appreciated by the students and the teaching staff. After Lajos’ graduation in 1940, our paths parted. Would they ever cross again? The war was looming on the horizon.

Lajos served in the Hungarian Army, so did I. He cooked somewhere, I attended the Hungarian Royal Military Academy. He was taken POW by the Americans, I surrendered to them. I emigrated to Detroit in 1949, he followed two years later, eventually to Chicago. Around the end of 1960, I learned through emigrant papers that a fellow Hungarian named Louis Szathmary opened a restaurant in Chicago.

We dropped in unannounced for a Saturday lunch in The Bakery with our kids. We were seated, and shortly after, greeted by the Chef himself. After mutual introduction, Louis remembered me when I uttered the word, Viss. I remembered him immediately, hugging each-other.

Finishing our lunch, Louis didn’t let me pay for it.

Although he asked us to come back repeatedly, we did not for a while, fearing that he’ll repeat the hustle over the pay.
A few years later Louis invited us to a Hungarian gathering, for some cultural event. We accepted, and went back several times afterwards. Approaching my retirement, Louis asked me if I would help him in his library. Having nothing else to do, I gladly accepted his invitation.

A few years later, I began to work for him.

Arriving at The Bakery around noon, Louis introduced me to his “crew”. I knew Sada from earlier meetings, a pleasant, gracious lady indeed. Next came Barbara, the chief-steward carrying a huge string of keys, who later behaved as if she owned the place; then Laci (Lawtzi), Louis’ personal driver and general factotum, fixer of everything; Pista (Pishtaw), the creator of tortes and other sweets, and preparer of the wondrous Beef of Wellington. Sadly, I cannot recall the names of those who were present at that long table.
Later, Sada told me that she spent an entire summer in Sarospatak where her husband attended high-school, with teenagers from all over the globe to learn Hungarian. To my surprise, her Hungarian was adequate for an everyday conversation.

Four-five (maybe ten) years ago, I read an article about Barbara in a magazine. I thought her last name was Koch (with guttural ch), I might be wrong. She was referred to in the article as the daughter of Louis Szathmary. (Hence her chip on the shoulder attitude?) Indeed, Louis created a position to her as curator—with plenty of stipend—to the Culinary Museum of the Johnson & Wales University. [Sandy’s note: Barbara was not Szathmary’s daughter; she was an employee. He did have a daughter named Magda-sls].

My first night at The Bakery was uneventful, sort of. I was assigned temporarily to the living quarters of Louis’ departed mother. Before going to sleep, I looked around for something to read. There was a long shelf above the bed, holding about twenty large books of the same size. To my surprise, all of them dealt with cannibalism, a definitely different and—luckily—a dying-out way of food preparation and consumption. Who collected them and for what reason, I never asked. It was, in my opinion, a minuscule part of Louis’ collection of cook-books, numbering a few thousand. Somehow, I didn’t read much that evening. Everyone to his taste.

After a sumptuous lunch, Louis showed me his cook-book collection. I found it immense, rather unorganized, noticing several duplicate copies. Louis told me that I’ll have nothing to do with these. His working area, the den of a genius, was a “mess”—a rather mild description— which nobody was allowed to touch. My real job was to weed out duplicate copies, called “duplum”, in the literature part of his library and to arrange the books for dissemination.

Louis asked me to leave alone his Transylvanian collection, housed in a separate room, and his private collection in his living quarters.

For the next few weeks (year and a half, to be exact), I spent 5 to 6 hours a day on ladders, from noon on Tuesdays to noon on Fridays. If I ran across books with interesting illustrations, such as wood- or linoleum-cuts, I put them aside. After the early evening meal, Louis looked them over, creating several piles to be given to his friends. Around eight o’clock, I had a call from Louis occasionally. If there were few guests that evening, he would ask me to join him while he ate his dinner. (I normally declined to eat again.) Looking around, he would get up to greet the guests, returning to finish up his meal with a cordial.

It is difficult, if not impossible to break a habit—such as collecting books—especially if the “store” rolls up to your doorsteps. Although Louis slowed down near the end of his life, he loved to visit an adventurous Hungarian refugee’s truck, loaded with anything Hungarian, including recently released books. Sausages in one hand and 4-5 books under his arm, I encountered Louis at the back door. Asking him what he purchased, he sheepishly confessed the sausages, but not the books, of which he already had several examples. I returned the books, telling the fellow to sell Louis only newly acquired printed material.

And, finally, I feel I owe Louis the following: Besides dividing and donating his library to several universities in the USA, Louis also remembered his alma mater in Sarospatak. He sent his Kossuth collection there, not only books and letters, but also memorabilia. (Louis Kossuth (Koshut, o as in or, h being silent) Regent-President in 1848-49, belonged to the Hungarian lower nobility, so did Louis. Kossuth attended the High-school in Sarospatak for a while, so did Louis. Both were fierce Habsburg foes and pro-democracy fighters, and both were Protestants. Hence the affinity, in my opinion, between the two patriots.) Louis asked me to assure that his collection arrived safely on my next trip to Hungary. Naturally, I complied, taking numerous pictures of an as-yet unorganized collection. Louis also sent huge pallets of émigré newspapers and several hundred books to join his Kossuth collection. This was the time I left The Bakery.

One of my brothers told me recently, that Louis’ presents were neatly arranged in a separate room, in a building adjacent to the main library. At the main entrance to the high-school, there is a marble memorial plaque for the school’s famous professors and pupils. Louis’ name is on it, as the last entry (for the time being). The grateful citizens of Sarospatak also arranged a special room commemorating Louis and his deeds, in a manor-house near to their 14th century famous fortress.

May you rest in peace, Lajoskám!

Charles Bartha

May l add the correct Hungarian pronunciation of Chef Louis’ name:
Sz az in s(ee),
a as in (m)a(ll),
th t is the same, the h being silent,
m same,
á as in a(re),
r same, somewhat rolled,
y as in i(n).
The accent is on the words first syllable, as you noted correctly.

His given name was Lajos, pronounced approximately: Lawyosh.
His former full name is, with Hungarian hyphenation: Szath-má-ry La-jos. Yes, family name first, with no comma between the two names.
I called him often by his affectionate name: Lajoskám, my “little” Lajos”. **

Isn’t this a wonderful email? It provides us with so many little details to Chef Szathmary’s life! This is what I wrote back to Charles: “I am in your debt and enormously delighted that you took the time to share all of this information about Chev Szathmary with me and my readers. Some of them, you may have noticed, either worked for him or had been acquainted with him in one way or another. My only claim to kinship is that one of my books of his is authographed and I wrote about him because I was so fascinated with his life. That, and a bit of Hungarian ancestry – my paternal grandfather was from Hungary. I am going to print a copy of your message to put with one of my cookbooks written by him. You can’t imagine how much I envy your being able to work with his collection. I “only” have about 8 or 10 thousand cookbooks–I stopped counting years ago and I understand how out of hand a cookbook collection can become. I’m thrilled that you wrote and provide so much insight to the man who became the quite famous Chef Szathmary. Please feel free to write to me again, anytime! Thank you so very much for writing this. – Sandy@sandychatter

The next memorable email about Chef Szathmary came from a woman named Fredricka, and was dated March 12, 2013. Fredricka wrote: “While attending a mathematics education conference in Chicago around 1972, I gathered several colleagues from Syracuse University including my Ph.D. committee chair and the University of Georgia where I was on faculty and my 17 year-old gourmet cook daughter and cabbed it from the Conrad Hilton to The Bakery. Chef Szathmary personally guided our menu decisions and autographed The Chef’s Secret Cookbook to my daughter: “To Lisa with my best wishes” followed by his unique signature embedded in his drawing of a chef’s hat. Lisa and the chef somehow got talking about his special meat thermometer (to not leave in during cooking was unheard of) and she was thrilled with her new culinary acquisition. The next year Lisa and I had occasion to return to the Bakery and the Chef remembered us. Lisa and I often remembered our lovely experiences at The Bakery as recently as a few months before I lost her this past June after a 10-year courageous battle with cancer. She ended up following her dream of having her own art gallery and creative website ( which her clients referred to as a jewel in Philadelphia. I am using the Chef’s rib roast and Chef’s Salt recipes this Saturday for Lisa’s elder son’s 31st birthday dinner…” **

In August of this year, (2013) someone using the initials MPJ wrote the following: “I happened upon your blog and it brought back delicious memories! When I was about eight years old Chef Louie, his wife, and their friend James Swan held a program showing slides from their trip to Easter Island. Mr. Swan was a friend of my mother’s and she brought me to the program. Afterwards Chef Louie had a buffet including, as I recall, turnips or something he’d carved to look like Easter Island figures. What I remember most though was the pâté. I tried it, I loved it. He sold it for take away at the Bakery and we were fortunate to live nearby. We had it for every birthday and holiday. My mother even brought it to me in college. I miss that pâté…”

There have been numerous other messages but I’ve restricted myself to copying those that shed light on Chef Szathmary’s personality and his most incredible life.

Last, but not least, I received another email in August of this year (2013). Marie wrote: “ I ran across this site while doing some research on Chef Louis Szathmary. My husband and I buy estates, foreclosure cleanouts, auctions etc. and recently made a purchase of over 300 boxes. I was floored to learn that this is the partial estate of Chef Louis and am in awe at the contents. So much so that I have begun to research him and his professional life. Which is something I have NEVER been intrigued enough to do with any estate purchase we have made. I’m not sure what I will do with all his belongings, but learning about him will help me decide.”

I’ve exchanged many emails with Marie, who has been indexing and making up lists of the various books, menus and other culinary objects that she has determined were, apparently, at one time in the possession of Barbara Koch, the woman mentioned in some of the email messages. I bought some cookie cutters and a 2-quart Anchor Hocking measuring cup from Marie, to have something personal of Chef Szathmary.

The following is from one of Marie’s email messages:

“Yes, he certainly was an amazing character! I feel like I know him by just going through all of his belongings. We finished sorting and organizing his estate last week and today we had a rare book collector of specifically food and drink related items fly in from Maine. He spent 10 hours selecting the items he was interested in and his finds consisted of TWENTY ONE (21) boxes of items. Even with his purchase that barely skimmed the surface of what we have. If you would like to tell me what types of things you are interested in I could give you a nice selection of choices. Aside from books and cookbooks, there are many items like:

*Artwork – the Chef was quite the artist in pen and ink drawings too!

*Culinary Kitchen Tools/Gadgets – Simply hundreds, 99% of them are vintage pieces

*Photos – pictures of him cooking at different events, being silly at “the Bakery”,family pics etc.

*Liquor Collection – he collected liquor bottles, some full, some not. Some bottles date back to 1913!

*Memorabilia – Awards he received, pins, uniform patches from “The Bakery”, some of his chef hats and jackets etc.

*Paper Archives – Lot and lots of rough drafts of his cook books, doodles he drew, catering menus, personal and professional letters he received and sent, his teaching outlines and notes etc.

I’m sure I am forgetting things, but off the top of my head that is an overview of what we have. If anyone has any interest, email me with a more narrow request on what you would like to have please:

Sandy – I JUST found out today HOW these things ended up in a storage facility. His second wife put them there, and apparently she has fallen on hard economic times and couldn’t afford to satisfy the monthly storage costs…..Mystery solved!”

—Sandra Lee Smith
October 11, 2013


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 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.

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:


The art of South American cookery,

by Myra Waldo. Illustrated by

John Alcorn. 1st ed. Doubleday.

© Myra Waldo Schwartz; l8 Aug 6l;


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 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 and 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.)


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 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.





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


Don’t look now but everywhere you turn, a magazine or newspaper is offering a list of some kind.  Parade magazine (the supplement that comes with my newspaper) offered a list of  PICKS – 13 things  for us to look forward to in 2013. Only two of the 13 things impressed me, personally – #2 is Maeve Binchy’s final novel, titled “A Week in Winter”. I have read all of Binchy’s books so I’m sure I will buy this one.   And a Johnny Cash Museum opening in Nashville is something to anticipate, I think.  My youngest son and I are big Johnny Cash fans. I was thrilled when this son became a fan—it was something I could share with him. I am not impressed with the rest of the list which includes a Revamped American Idol (I don’t watch this program) and Stephen King’s JOYLAND – I don’t read Stephen King. One aside – I DID read some of King’s earliest books and loved them. Then he became “too far out” for my taste.

From Travel & Leisure comes a list of “13 for 2013” – the places to go this year, which includes Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Gold Coast, Australia, Charlevoix, Quebec – and not to be outdone, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I am more impressed with Bon Appetit’s list of TOP 25 FOOD TRENDS although now I am forced to confess, I am not sure exactly what the top 25 food trends are meant to be.  I’m guessing it’s the article titled STARTERS, the BA 25/what to eat, drink and cook in 2013.  Number 5 features the Good & Evil chocolate bar that costs $18 so I guess some of us (me, anyway) will be sticking to Hershey’s cocoa or the Baker’s unsweetened chocolate bars. Number 15 on the list is Fresh Horseradish which I probably won’t buy anymore; it was something Bob loved and before he got sick, we bought fresh horseradish, converted it into little jars of horseradish sauce and I still have some in the freezer!  Number 16 is a new gadget so you can mill your own flour. That, and the rest of the 25 didn’t impress me much—but overall, this issue of Bon Appétit for January 2013, is worth the purchase if you aren’t a subscriber because it’s the Cooking School Issue and is packed with information from making roasts to salads to sauces and sweets.  It also contains a meat lover’s guide to vegetables.  A must issue for serious chefs and wannabes everywhere.

That said, you might want to check out the FOOD & WINE issue for January, 2013 – it contains Best Recipes & Food Trends for 2013 which includes America’s most exciting new restaurants and their top recipes. The cover features Spice-Rubbed Roast Chicken & two sauces—and out of all the recipes featured, I think this is the one I am most likely to prepare.

From Family Circle magazine for the new year is a list of 35 Ways to be Healthier but the Slow Cooker Suppers may be at the top of my list—while Conde Nast Traveler offers Gold List, World’s Best Places to Stay and features 510 (yes, five hundred and ten) top hotels, resorts and cruise ships. REDBOOK offers 23 Speedy Ways to get Organized while HOUSE BEAUTIFUL features 101 Kitchen & Bath Ideas.

Following is the list of its top choices for favorite recipes:

1 potato and cheddar cheese soup

2 sweet potato casserole

3 chocolate cream cheese brownies










My fav choice from this list was the Orange-Soaked Bundt Cake – but I do love orange in any recipe. You need to go to to get the recipe, though.

I turned my mind to favorite cookbooks – specifically lists of favorite cookbooks and the first to pop up on is a list from Epicurious.

This is what Epicurious had to say:

“First on the list is (quite naturally) THE EPICURIOUS COOKBOOK: MORE THAN 250 OF OUR BEST LOVED FOUR-FORK RECIPES FOR WEEKNIGHTS, WEEKENDS AND SPECIAL OCCASIONS By Tanya Stelle and the Editors of Epicurous  (clarkson Potter, publishers)

Second on their list is BOUCHON BAKERY BY Thomas Keller and  Sébastien Rouxel (Artisan)  Third is HOMEMADE PANTRY by Alana Cjernila (Clarkson Potter, publishing) which features 101 foods you can stop buying and start making yourself –such as vanilla extract. I have been making my own for a long time but  the book looks like something I will want to add to my collection.

#4 on the #Epicurious list is a book titled ROOTS: THE DEFINITIVE COMPENDIUM WITH MORE THAN 225 RECIPES, by Diane Morgan.

#5 on their list is a book titled, simply, SALADS by Mindy Fox (Kyle Books, publisher) while

# 6 is SEAMUS MULLEN’S HERO FOOD by Chef Seamus Mullen (Andrew McMeel, publisher) followed by

#7 SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS, by Adam Roberts (Artisan, publisher) and   #8  is SOUVENIRS by Hubert Keller, and is a food memoir published also by Andrew McMeel.

#9 is VIETNAMESE HOME COOKING by Charles Phan – and last but not least is

#10 VINTAGE CAKES by Julie Richardson (Ten Speed  Press) (note to self: write something about the vintage cookbooks in my collection).

You  can obtain more detailed information on all of these cookbooks by going to  and there is a list of top ten for 2011 as well. I am going to be totally  honest with you – I guess it’s my meat-and-potatoes-midwestern mentality, but out of all these books the ones I am most likely to check out when I go back to Barnes & Noble is  Vintage Cakes even though I have a very old cookbook of vintage cake recipes. I like the idea of Souvenirs, but I do enjoy food memoirs and have a fairly respectable collection of these books. I am very likely to buy HOMEMADE PANTRY if it lives up to my expectations.


I would like to give a special salute to the following cookbooks – some may not be your favorites and some may be books you haven’t even heard of. But a request I  received the other day for a particular recipe from a Meta Given cookbook, (thanks to Mary Jane for requesting it), made me stop and think about the cookbooks I turn to most often when someone  (including myself) is searching for a particular cookbook.

So #1 on my list today for best ten reference cookbooks is META GIVEN’S cookbook.  When I was a teenager, a copy of Meta Given’s “The Modern Family Cookbook” appeared in our family bookcase (a little cherry wood bookcase with glass doors, that my younger sister now has). I think it was a book club offering but that baffles me as neither of my parents ever joined a book club. I have a vague memory of my mother refusing to pay for it and so it languished on the family bookshelves until I began to read it and eventually claimed for my own. And, to add to the mystery, there is no indication on the inside pages of the cookbook that it was ever a book club selection.  The original copyright was 1942. This edition was copyrighted by Meta Given in 1953, which sounds about right to me.

Not surprisingly, the pages most stained are those with cookie recipes on them- rocks and hermits, gum drop cookies, something called cocoa Indians, lemon drop cookies and molasses drop. My mother turned me loose in the kitchen when I was 9 or 10 years old and most of the time, I baked cookies.

I now own a copy of the original 1942 “Modern Family Cookbook” which is somewhat thicker and heavier than the 1953 edition. But in 1947, Meta compiled “Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking which is in two volumes. I had to laugh at myself; I thought I only had a copy of Volume I, but when I began going through some of my old cookbooks in our new built garage library, I found a copy of Volume II. So, it’s “Meta’s Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking that I am elevating to first place”. You name it and chances are, you will find it in one of these two volumes.

#2 in my list of favorites is “Ida Bailey Allen’s Service Cookbooks, volume 1 and 2”.   The cookbook I grew up on, and learned to cook from, was – as I have written before in Sandychatter—an Ida Bailey Allen Service cookbook that I believe my mother bought for a dollar at Woolworth’s. (I now have that very cookbook, the Service Cookbook, which is certainly battered, tattered and stained. Years later I searched for, and found, more pristine copies).  When someone requests a long forgotten recipe, I have often found it in one of Allen’s cookbooks. She was a famous radio recipe personality back in the day and I wrote extensively about her in my article “I LOVE YOU IDA BAILEY ALLEN, WHEREEVER YOU ARE”. It had this title because this is another one of those instances where I have been unable to learn what happened to the cookbook author when she disappeared from public view. Ditto Meta Given! I am still trying to discover where Given went when she retired!

#3 on my list of favorites “AMERICA COOKS” by the Browns, – Cora, Rose and Bob Brown. Published in 1940 by Halcyon House, “America Cooks” presents favorite recipes from 48 states (Hawaii and Alaska were not yet states in 1940).  I’ve read “America Cooks” many times—and it was “the” book that led to my quest to find other cookbooks like it; cookbooks with America in the title, regional cookbooks that were still regional before the USA became so homogenized. Now I have an entire bookcase with cookbooks bearing the name “America” in their titles but I still love “America Cooks” the best. Thanks to my penpal Betsy, who introduced me to The Browns’ cookbooks, I began collecting all of their titles. All of their books are truly the kind of cookbook you can sit down and … read like a novel. And much to my surprise and delight, earlier this year—or maybe it was the year before—a descendant of the Browns discovered by Blog and wrote to me.  And thanks to one of them, I managed to find a copy of the Browns’ Vegetable Cookbook, the only one out of the series that I was missing. For me, exchanging messages with someone from this Brown family was sort of like Paul Harvey’s famous last line “now you know the rest of the story.” I heartily recommend ANY of the Browns’ cookbooks as great additions to your cookbook collection.

#4 on my list of top ten for 2013 is another one for which my Sandychatter subscribers write requesting a recipe. The title is “THE MYSTERY CHEF’S OWN COOKBOOK”.  The Mystery Chef was a man named John MacPherson who hosted a Philadelphia cooking program “The Mystery Chef” on NBC in 1949. It was one of NBCs first daytime programs and the show ran on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from March 1st through June 29.

MacPherson was a former chemical engineer who arrived in the USA from London in 1906.  He started on radio in the 1930s when he took over a program for a friend and soon began to share his love of cooking with his listening audience. His “Mystery Chef” radio program   ran from 1932 to 1945 – a period of time in which radio recipe programs were in their heyday. (What baffles me is that I never came across the Mystery Chef when I was writing about radio recipe programs…first for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, and more recently, on my Blog. Please see “When Radio was King” a post I entered on my blog on June 21, 2009). Radio recipe programs were enormously popular almost from the inception of radio and continued for decades. NOW you have television recipe programs, a forum that started very simply and has grown until we have the Food Network and dozens of television chef celebrities!)

MacPherson’s programs featured recipes for a limited budget, which makes perfectly good sense considering that in the 1930s the USA was in the throes of a Great Depression. He was very popular with thousands of people who requested copies of his no-fuss recipes. In 1934 MacPherson copyrighted his recipe book which was published in 1936 under the title “The Mystery Chef’s Own Cook Book” by Longmans, Green and Co.  And why he had the name of the Mystery Chef will most likely make you laugh, as it did me.  MacPherson writes, in his cookbook, that having a job as a radio cooking show was considered beneath him, by his family, particularly his mother. So he didn’t use his own name, and became famous simply as “the Mystery Chef”.  Every so often someone who remembers the Mystery Chef radio program or had a Mystery Chef cookbook, will write requesting a favorite recipe. So, The Mystery Chef has spot number 4 on my list.

#5 on my list is cookbook author Jean Anderson’s “AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK”, the most popular recipes of the 20th century and although Anderson has written numerous cookbooks, American Century Cookbook is my favorite reference book. (I wrote about Jean Anderson in January of 2011 and you can find a bibliography in that blog post).

#6 of my favorite cookbook authors is Myra Waldo, another prolific cookbook author who compiled dozens of books, most out of print and some only to be found in tattered condition.  I wrote about Myra Waldo originally for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange quite some time ago; I updated and wrote about her again in 2011 on my blog.  My favorite cookbook—and there are dozens from which to choose—is “COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH” published in 1965.  The author and her husband traveled throughout Europe—Robert Schwartz never seems to be addressed by name, he was always referred to as “My husband”—and each chapter is introduced with a delightful short story of where they traveled and what they saw, and how they happened to discover this dish or that. I was so intrigued with the short stories that I leafed through the entire book and read them all first, before the recipes.

Like Ida Bailey Allen and Meta Given, Myra Waldo disappeared from the public eye—I’m not sure when—and for years (prior to the Internet), I was unable to find any trace of her. It broke my heart when I finally discovered, recently, while updating my information on her – she retired in Beverly Hills, California, and passed away just a few years ago. What I wouldn’t have given to talk to her!  (Please refer to my blog post “Where’s Waldo”, from January, 2011, for a bibliography of her cookbooks—and be forewarned! There are a lot of them!  Sometimes putting together a bibliography is as challenging as writing the article itself.

#7 which a lot of American cooks might think should have been #1 (but I have spent my entire life marching to the beat of an off-beat kitchen drummer) would have to be JOY OF COOKING. The Joy of Cooking is one of the United States’ most-published cookbooks, having been in print continuously since 1936 and with more than 18 million copies sold. It was privately published in 1931 by Irma Rombauer, a homemaker in St. Louis, Missouri, who was struggling emotionally and financially after her husband’s suicide the previous year. Rombauer had 3,000 copies printed by A.C. Clayton, a company which had printed labels for fancy St. Louis shoe companies and for Listerine, but never a book. In 1936, the book was picked up by a commercial printing house, the Bobbs-Merrill Company. Joy is the backbone of many home cooks’ libraries and is commonly found in commercial kitchens as well.

The book was illustrated by Rombauer’s daughter, Marion Rombauer Becker, who directed the art department at John Burroughs School.. Working on weekends during the winter of 1930-31, Marion designed the cover, which depicted St Martha of Bethany, the patron saint of cooking, slaying a dragon. She also produced silhouette cutouts to illustrate chapter headings. Much slimmer and more conversational than later editions, the original Depression-era edition included sections on canning, pickling, and instructions on how to use meats such as squirrel, possum and raccoon—all recipes that can be found in Meta Given’s cookbooks. Well-worn copies of the book from the library of Julia Child are on display at the National Museum of American History.

In 1962, a revised edition of Joy was published, the first since Irma Rombauer’s death. This edition was released without Marion Becker’s consent. Subsequent releases of the book in 1963 and 1964 were essentially massive corrections, and Becker was known to swap copies of the 1962 edition for later corrected versions.

This edition was published in paperback format (most notably, a two-volume  mass market paperback edition) . It is still widely available in used bookstores. The 1964 edition was also released as a single-volume comb-ring bound paperback mass-market edition starting in November 1973 and continuing into the early 1990s.  The 1975 edition was the last to be edited by Becker, and remains the most popular. More than 1,000 pages long, it became a staple in kitchens throughout the country. Though many of the sections may feel dated to the contemporary American palate, many home chefs still find it a useful reference and it is still widely consulted. The foreword to this edition explains that Becker’s favorite recipes include “Cockaigne” in the name, (e.g., “Fruit Cake Cockaigne”), after the name of her country home in Anderson Township, near Cincinnati, Ohio.  The 1975 edition remained in print, primarily in various inexpensive paperback editions, until the 75th Anniversary edition arrived in 2006.

After the 1975 edition, the project lay unchanged for about 20 years. In the mid-1990s, publishers Simon and Schuster, which owns the Joy copyrights, hired influential cookbook editor Maria Guarnaschelli (who I have never heard of), formerly of William Morrow, and editor of works by Jeff Smith and others. Guarnaschelli, under the supervision of Rombauer’s grandson Ethan Becker, oversaw the creation of the controversial 1997 edition. The new edition kept the concise style of its predecessors, but dropped the conversational first-person narration. Much of the book was ghostwritten by teams of expert chefs instead of the single dedicated amateur that Irma Rombauer had been when she created the book. The 1997 version is fairly comprehensive, covering a great deal of detail that is not traditionally part of] American cooking; however, it deleted much information about ingredients and frozen desserts.

Originally sold with the title The All-New, All-Purpose Joy of Cooking, it was reissued in February 2008 with the title The 1997 Joy of Cooking after being sold for some time alongside the 2006 edition. In 2006, a 75th Anniversary edition was published, containing 4,500 recipes and returning Rombauer’s original voice to the book. The new version removes some of the professionalism of the 1997 edition and returns many simpler recipes and recipes assisted by ready-made products such as cream of mushroom soup and store-bought wontons. The 2006 edition also reinstates the cocktail section and the frozen desserts section, and restores much of the information that was deleted in the 1997 edition.

The new version includes a new index section called “Joy Classics” that contains 35 recipes from 1931-1975 and a new nutrition section.  So now you know the rest of THIS story (whew!)  I have several old and battered Joy of Cooking cookbooks in my collection as well as a copy of the facsimile edition of the first Joy. At least I think it’s the first. With so many editions, who can tell? (Quick aside – I first started thinking about JOY when I was visiting my brother Jim and his wife Bunny, in Michigan years ago. I think it was for their daughter/my goddaughter’s high school graduation and she is now married and the mother of two little boys. Bunny had the book out to make cream of asparagus soup and it was the most battered tattered cookbook of my acquaintance—held together with rubber bands.  **

Rombauer had no need to write a dozen or two other cookbooks; she made her fortune with just one. But thinking and writing about Irma Rombauer reminded me of another one of my favorite cookbook authors—Marion Cunningham who passed away not long ago. Marion wrote perhaps half a dozen cookbooks but may be most famous for her re-write of the Fannie Farmer cookbook.

So #8 on my list is a toss-up between Marion’s re-write of the famous Fannie Farmer Cookbook and another one that I simply love, Marion’s “LOST RECIPES” published by Alfred A.  Knopf in 2003. I love it for its title and for what it represents – recipes being lost to us, keepers of the flame, collectors of old recipes, old favorites connecting the past with the present.  Marion believed that families were becoming lost and disjointed, families not sitting down together at meal times. I wanted to tell Marion that I cooked meals throughout all the years my children were growing up—we sat down to eat at 6 pm and there were often several droppers-in who knew I made dinner every night and they also knew no one was ever turned away. And for almost all the years Bob and I shared a life together, I made dinner almost every night, until he got too sick to eat. I still cooked for him but a meal might consist of macaroni & cheese when he could no longer enjoy most foods. But it’s a pleasure to me to report that my youngest son and his family, at least, have dinner at the table, together, at 5:30 almost every night. The torch has been passed.  Discover LOST RECIPES for yourself.

And #9 is a companion cookbook, in my mind, to #8. Number 9 is “AMERICA’S BEST LOST RECIPES” published by Cook’s Country Magazine in 2007. I wrote a poem for my poetry group about this collection of Lost Recipes so I will share it with you:

The editors of Cooks Magazine/ published A cookbook that is titled/                  AMERICA’S BEST LOST RECIPES/

121 kitchen-tested heirloom recipes

too good to forget

and it is a beautifully bound book

with hidden wire ring binding

and filled with a some recipes

I have never heard of,

Although there are others

I am familiar with:

Nine Day Slaw,

24-hour Salad,

German Potato Soup,

Beefy Bean and Barley Soup,

Brunswick Stew,


Monkey Bread,

Wacky Cake,

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake,

Lazy Daisy Cake,

Hummingbird Cake,

Orange Kiss Me Cake

Nesselrode Pie,

lackberry Cobbler,

Peanut Blossom Cookies,

Brown Sugar Fudge and

Buttermilk Candy–

But I have to confess –

I never knew any of these recipes

Were lost–

 The people at Cooks Magazine

Had only to give me a call;

I could have told them none

Of the recipes were lost.

I have all of them in my


Especially peanut blossom cookies–

I make those every


For my son Kelly

ho loves them.

Maybe some people just

Didn’t know  where to

look For them.


#10 is a repeat of my 2011 list, “500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES” from Martha Storey and Friends –from Storey Books in Vermont. Why do I like it so much?  Whenever I am searching for a recipe “500 Treasure Country Recipes” is probably the next book I will pluck off my shelves. Occasionally, I’ll be searching for something to include in an article on my blog – or I might be searching for something unusual, like Vinegar Candy – because someone wrote and asked me about it. I love the format of “500 Treasured Country Recipes” and I like that it includes many preserving recipes, whether it’s a canning recipe or drying or freezing the harvest. Published in 2000, it’s still very up-to-date eleven years later. It really is a TREASURE.

You may have noticed, there are a lot of famous cookbook authors whose cookbooks I have left out –that’s because I prefer to focus on the cookbooks I really do use and refer to often. So, what’s YOUR favorite cookbook? And why?  And be glad I only selected ten, not a hundred, of my favorites. Actually…the more I browse through my cookbook shelves, the more I find “favorite’ cookbooks”.

Happy Cooking and Happy New Year!



We have long been fascinated with the appetites and food interests of celebrities (my cookbook collection on celebrities fills two shelves) – as well as presidents and their wives (another two shelves of  cookbooks) plus royalty.  WHY we are so intrigued with the eating habits of the rich and famous is something of a mystery.

One of the first books I found which was devoted to recipes and foodlore of English royalty was a slender volume titled COURT FAVOURITES (sic) by Elizabeth Craig.  At the time, I had no idea that Elizabeth Craig was a famous British cookbook author. Bear with me—discovering Elizabeth Craig and COURT FAVOURITES was probably around 1965 or 66, when I was just beginning to collect cookbooks.

COURT FAVOURITES was published in 1953, the same year that Queen Elizabeth II was crowned Queen, and in the foreword, Ms. Craig explains how she acquired the recipes which were the basis of her book:

“Ever since I was 12 years old,” writes the author” I have kept my eyes open for unusual recipes and interesting menus. When other girls were playing Snakes and Ladders (an English game) I was laboriously copying out recipes from magazines and newspapers.

Among them were various notes on royal fare, but it was not until about 20 years ago, when I met an Irishwoman who had the privilege of knowing an English princess, that I began to wonder if some time in the future I might be able to make use of these…”

Ms. Craig goes on to explain how her Irish friend, who often dined with the English princess, was given the opportunity to see the scrap book which had been given to Queen Victoria when she was a young girl. This manuscript cookbook originally belonged to Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV, and Caroline of Brunswick.  Princess Charlotte, Victoria’s aunt, gave the collection to her when she was a very young girl. This collection of recipes dates back to the 1500s and even contained Ann Boleyn’s instructions for making syllabub.

This manuscript cookbook was hand bound in vellum with a crown stamped on every page.  Some of the recipes were in old Italian handwriting. Others were difficult to decipher, as the pages were spotted and faded with age.  From the dates, one could determine that the recipes had been chosen and inserted with care over a period of fifty to eighty years. There was another book of faded script, bound in Russian leather, which contained many recipes cut from old books and papers, along with recipes evidently copied by Princess Victoria.  In the second book, in Victoria’s sprawling unformed handwriting, was a recipe for plum pudding, dated 1565. On the first page of this little book, someone had written “GIVEN TO VICTORIA ON HER BIRTHDAY, 1831”.

We can be thankful that Victoria realized the worth of what she had been given and continued to contribute to the collection. Part of the reason for her interest may have been due to her devotion to her beloved Prince Albert, for whom she prepared meals on a little stove in their private rooms at Windsor.

But, returning to the 1950s, the Irishwoman, who Ms. Craig does not name, was given permission by the princess to copy recipes from the two books. She, in turn, presented them sometime later to Elizabeth Craig, and this was the nucleus of COURT FAVOURITES.

COURT FAVOURITES is an enchanting cookbook. There are lots of  recipes to try, if you are interested in duplicating Henry IV’s Bearnaise sauce (most likely named after his birthplace, Bearn) or Mary Queen of Scots favorite “Scotch Petticoat Tails) which dates back to 1568. Mary brought the recipe with her    from France where the little cakes were known as Petits Gateaux Tailes.

Elizabeth the first was very partial to meringues/kisses recipes that are still around hundreds of years later. (One of my favorites is a meringue cookie called Beacon Hills, which contains chocolate chips). There are, however, dozens of other recipes and a fascinating journey through the British  royal kitchens  covering centuries of kings and queens.

We learn that it was not until Queen Anne ascended the throne that the art of cookery in England made much headway. Queen Anne not only encouraged gastronomy but also the art of wines.  During her reign, wonderful cellars were laid down  in England. Unfortunately, however, her successors did not appreciate the good work she had inspired, and George I and George II introduced a heavy Germanic influence to the British table. Actually, the first three Georges weren’t very much interested in gourmet food—but George IV was considered bon vivant, due to having hired Careme as his chef. Another of King George IV’s chefs, before Careme took over, was a man named Brand. One day he created a special steak sauce that delighted the king. George IV sent for Brand and announced that his sauce was “A-1”  Well, later on the chef retired to manufacture his sauce for public consumption and guess what? The Sauce was called A-1, sold today under the name of A1 Worcestershire Sauce.

Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, was very economical and disliked and kind of extravagance. She was very particular how food should be prepared. Queen Charlotte took a great interest not only in the preparation of food but also in herbs, fruit and vegetables. It is said that she was so fond of mulberries, that the old mulberry trees in Buckinghamshire were planted by her. It was this same Queen Charlotte who would present to the young Victoria her manuscript cookbook which Victoria would treasure, and add to, for over fifty years.

It seems that Elizabeth Craig’s book has commanded respect in other publishing quarters, for – imagine my surprise – as I was reading ROYAL COOKBOOK, favorite court recipes from the world royal families, published by Parents Magazine Press in 1971 –what did I find under the British chapter, but numerous references to Elizabeth Craig’s book. It appears that COURT FAVOURITES was a primary reference source when Parents Magazine compiled THEIR book.

Of course, there are “royals” throughout the world, not just in Great Britain (although it seems to me that the seat of history lies in England.) And if you are interested in learning more about the Royals in other parts of the world—and what they like to east—ROYAL COOKBOOK is a good choice. The book is oversized, coffee table size, with lavish photographs. More than 18 countries are represented—including Russia, Poland, China, Japan, Africa, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and, of course, England/Great Britain. There are numerous photographs (or photographs of paintings) of the royals themselves, including Napoleon and Marie Antoinette of France, King George I (a very dour looking man) and Queen Elizabeth II. Hawaii is represented from the days when it was a monarchy, and there is a photograph of the famous Kamehameha IV of Hawaii and his wife, Queen Emma, and the beautiful Princess Kailulani, daughter of Princess Likelike.

There are also numerous photographs of royal china and serving pieces—not to mention hundreds of royal favorite recipes.

Focusing again on Great Britain, there is an interesting little book titled TO SET BEFORE A QUEEN BY Mrs. Alma McKee.

Mrs. McKee explains in her book, published in 1963, how she happened to end up cooking for Queen Elizabeth II, when QEII was still Princess Elizabeth at Clarence House. When Mrs. McKee went to work there, she was told that she was the only female chef in charge of a royal kitchen. She had previously cooked for King Peter of Yugoslavia, she says, but that was different, since they were very young and very informal.

Mrs. McKee left King Peter’s household to take a long convalescence following pneumonia, and when she returned to work, her agency offered her a choice of two jobs. One was with Isaac Wolfson, the Industrialist, and the other at Clarence House.

After King George VI died and Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II, she eventually moved to Buckingham Palace, but Mrs. McKee stayed at Clarence House to continue cooking for the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

Mrs. McKee’s book is small but chockfull of interesting recipes and reminiscences of her years as cook for the British Royals.

“TO THE QUEEN’S TASTE,” (subtitled ELIZABETHAN FEASTS AND RECIPES” by Lorna Sass, is a fascinating slender volume published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1976. The queen here is Elizabeth the First who, we learn, liked to eat alone. Possibly it was because of her bad teeth. As she got older, Elizabeth I chewed something called “comfets” which were sugar coated whole spices, to freshen her breath. The book itself borrows from other known sources  of who-was-eating-what in the 1500s, but also provides a glossary of terms which is most useful in translating old recipes.

Elizabeth I was not exactly a gourmet, but she had a notoriously sweet tooth. Her pockets were always filled with candies and anyone who wanted to get into her good graces would dream up a new confection (This may be why she had such bad teeth!)

However, Elizabeth’s fondness for sweets, according to Betty Wason in “COOKS, GLUTTONS AND GOURMETS” led her apothecary to experiment with using the juice of the vanilla bean as flavoring for marzipan, the first time the Mexican pod had been used to flavor anything but the chocolate drink of the Aztecs. Elizabeth was delighted and vanilla has been a favorite flavoring used in candies ever since.

It was also during the reign of Elizabeth I that fruit was first used alone in a pie. Some preserved cherries were given to her as a New Year’s gift and the Queen was so pleased that she ordered a thirty acre tract to be turned into a  cherry orchard. It was the first time cherries were planted in England, and when the trees bore fruit, she ordered them baked in a pie.  Cherry pies from that time forward were a specialty at English royal banquets.

It was also during Elizabeth I’s reign that a merchant named Tom Coryate brought samples of a two-pronged fork home with him after a journey to Italy, and presented one to his queen. Elizabeth was amused and had others made, one of which was made of gold. The fork became something of a fad at court although the country as a whole regarded it as an effeminate innovation.

Other books which provide insight and some details to royal appetites include Esther B. Aresty’s THE DELECTABLE PAST, FOOD IN HISTORY and THE FINE ART OF FOOD, both by Reay Tannahill, and Betty Wason’s COOKS, GLUTTONS & GOURMETS.

Ms. Wason notes “Henri IV of France was a gourmet.  Henry VIII of England was a Glutton. Both had gargantuan appetites. Henry VIII’s reign presented us with the grand feast of Christmas…with twelve days of revelry and feasting.

It’s really quite fortunate that people have always been so interested in what is being served and eaten on royal tables. Ever since A FORM OF CURY* was written by the cooks serving King Richard II, we have had a kind of continuous record of what people were cooking and eating.  Without these records, much of the culinary history of the middle ages would have been lost to us. Now, you may argue, perhaps successfully—that kings and queens were eating exactly the same thing as peasants. This is true, up to a point. Royalty’s dinner fare may have been more exotic and plentiful than the poor serf’s—just as what the President of the United States may be eating something far more luxuriously than you or I, today. Nonetheless, I think most food fare was rather standard then, as it is now.

(*From Wekepedia:The Forme of Cury (Forms of Cooking, cury being from Frenchcuire) is an extensive recipe collection of the 14th century whose author is given as “the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II“. The modern name was given to it by Samuel Pegge, who published an edition of it in 1791. This name has since come into usage for almost all versions of the original manuscript. Along with Le Viandier, it is the best-known medieval guide to cooking.)

The roll was written in late Middle English (circa 1390) on vellum and details some 205 recipes, although the exact number of recipes varies slightly between different versions).

Many royals have been entertained at the White House and thanks to the various White House Chefs and other backstairs employees, records have been kept o these famous meals.

The first heir-apparent to the British throne to visit the United States was that of England’s Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, who would become King Edward VII, when he visited the White House during the administration of President Buchanan. It was considered such a social coup that it was talked about for years! (Prior to becoming President, James Buchanan was Ambassador to the Court of King James. His niece, Harriet Lane, accompanied him and became a favorite of Queen Victoria. All of this may have contributed to the Prince’s visit to the United States and its success.

Some years later, after the Civil War, President Grant and his family entertained Prince Arthur, the third son of Queen Victoria, with a dinner that was so lavish, it was reported to have cost $2,000 (a lot of money in the 1800s!) The Grants also hosted a dinner for King Kalakaua of Hawaii, but this dinner tried the patience of the White House Chef, as the King’s personal attendants tasted everything first and decided which were fit for the king to eat.  This was also done to be certain that the king would not be poisoned!

In more recent times, President and Mrs Reagan entertained Prince Charles and Princess Diana when they visited Washington, D.C. for three days. Mrs. Reagan spent weeks consulting with Buckingham Palace over the menu and the guest list. Since Prince Charles is partial to fish and fowl, a lobster mousse was served as a first course, and a lightly glazed chicken was served as an entrée.

This was surely an improvement over the visit paid by the King and Queen of England (Elizabeth II’s parents) when they visited the White House during the Roosevelt Administration and were served hot dogs! (It should be noted that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had very little interest in food—hot dogs might have seemed like a good idea to her at the time).

Actually, to be fair to the Roosevelts, we should note that the rest of the                   King and Queen’s visit was treated lavishly.  At a State Dinner, they dined on diamondback terrapin from Maryland and hothouse grapes from Belgium. It was considered to be the most elegant dinner during the Roosevelt administration. And, it seems that the Royals enjoyed hot dogs very much—so much that they in turn served them to the American Bar Association at a garden party given at Buckingham Palace in 1957.

So, next time you are having hot dogs, consider this—even kings and queens have eaten them.


COURT FAVOURITES by Elizabeth Craig, 1953

ROYAL COOKBOOK, published by Parents Magazine, 1971

TO SET BEFORE A QUEEN, Alma McKee, published 1963

TO THE QUEEN’S TASTE, Lorna Sass, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976


THE DELECTABLE PAST, Esther B. Aresty, 1964

FOOD IN HISTORY, Reay Tannahill, 1973

THE FINE ART OF FOOD, Reay Tannahill, date of publication not indicated


*This is by no means all of the books you can use to learn more about what people were eating, or how they lived, throughout the centuries since man learned how to make a fire and then discovered meat thrown on the fire tasted pretty good. When I first wrote this article, I was using the books that I had for references.

Just as a sample of what you can look for today might include:

NEAR A THOUSAND TABLES/A HISTORY OF FOOD by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto published in 2002– or

CENTURY OF BRITISH COOKING by Marguerite Patten, published in 1999

AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK by Jean Anderson, published in 1997


Apparently, back in the day, some cookbooks started with the premise that brides didn’t know how to cook (remember this was long before the Food Network came along). And I do know that some cookbooks (“Joy of Cooking”, “The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook”) were considered eminently suitable for a new bride. I know; my first Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook was a wedding present when I married in 1958. But what could be more suitable or perfect than a cookbook with “Bride” in the title?

One such cookbook was “THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK” by Poppy Cannon, and published by Henry Holt and Company in 1954—but an identical title was used also by Myra Waldo, copyrighted in 1958 by Myra – paperback copies went through a number of printings. Well, you could have knocked me over with a basting brush when I entered “Bride’s cookbooks” to do a search on Amazon! I was so enchanted, I ordered several of the titles (like I needed another cookbook with “Bride” in the title.)

Let’s go over some of these titles together – maybe you know someone about to get married who doesn’t know how to cook? Could there really be such a person? I have no doubt it was far more common in the 1950s when I was graduating from high school and engaged in a wild dash to the altar, along with many girlfriends—girlfriends whose mothers never let them near the kitchen stove would call me up to ask how to do some of the most basic things – I had been blessed with a mother who turned me loose in the kitchen when I was ten or eleven years old. Not even my best friends had the latitude in the kitchen that I enjoyed – we did much of our cooking/experimenting in MY mother’s kitchen. I quickly discovered – if you could READ you could follow directions in a recipe. My mother’s Ida Bailey Allen Service cookbook became my kitchen bible. But maybe I give today’s mothers and exposure to cooking shows on TV too much credit – why else would there STILL be such a wealth of cookbooks aimed at Brides?

Consider the following listings (mostly from—I did find some but not as many, on


COOKBOOK FOR BEGINNERS WITH COOKING FOR TWO (AKA COOKBOOK FOR BRIDES) by Dorothy Malone, 1953, mass market paperback 45.00.

HAVE COOKBOOK, WILL MARRY, A BASIC COOKBOOK FOR TODAY’S BRIDE by Ruth Chier Rosen, January, 1957 (no copies listed)

BRIDE’S COOKBOOK by Myra Waldo, 1958 (paperback copies available starting at $1.25. Collier Books published this and my paperback copy has a pink cover).

1001 WAYS TO PLEASE A HUSBAND – THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK, Myra Waldo,llustrations by Grames Miller, 1961 (Are 1001 Ways to Please a Husband and the Bride’s Cookbook by Myra Waldo one and the same book? I don’t know.)

A BRIDE’S COOKBOOK: A KITCHEN PRIMER BY Peggy Harvey, 1962 new & used copies $12.00.
BRIDE IN THE KITCHEN by cookbook author Betty Wason, published in 1964. (Not listed in Amazon or Alibris).


HENRY CHARPENTIER COOKBOOK (BRIDE’S BIBLE) – Henry Carpentier, 1970 (one listing $25.00)

A BRIDE’S VERY FIRST COOKBOOK by James Croom, 1996 paperback $0.01 (*this is a booklet; I recognize the title as one from my own cookbook collection).

THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK by the editors of Bride Magazine, (1969) (used copies starting at $1.00) I bought a copy of this paperback cookbooklet – that sold originally for $1.45! It promises over 200 can’t fail recipes and more than 250 step-by-step illustrations. You know what? I like this little cookbook.

THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK by Ernie Couch & Teri Mitchell, 1990

THE BRIDE AND GROOM’S FIRST COOKBOOK by Abigail Kirsch and Susan M. Greenberg, January 1996 (new $0.72, used starting at one cent, collectible copy at $3.99)

THE BRIDE & GROOM’S MENU COOKBOOK BY Abigail Kirsch & Susan Greenberg, January 2002, (new $4.74 and used starting at one cent.

THE BRIDE AND GROOM FIRST AND FOREVER COOKBOOK< Mary Corpening Barber, Sara Corpening Whiteford, 2003, $15.00

BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK (BRIDAL EDITION) by Betty Crocker, 2005 (new copies $18.14, used starting at $6.16)

THE NEWLYWEDS COOKBOOK, Ryland Pilers & Small, January 2006

WILLIAMS-SONOMA BRIDE & GROOM COOKBOOK: RECIPES FOR COOKING TOGETHER by Gayle Pirie and John Clark, March, 2006 (new, $23.19 – used copies starting at $1.06)

THE I DO COOKBOOK FOR THE BRIDE AND GROOM, April, 2007, Celia Jolley et al ($27.00 new, $22.23 used)


THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK BY Edgar William Briggs, published August, 2008, (paperback copies $12.95)

MY DAUGHTER, THE BRIDE COOKBOOK, CREATING MEMORIES IN THE WAY OF FOOD by Lisa Estabrook, July 2008 (paperback starting at $11.23, hardcover editions $15.99 used, or $22.09 new)

THE FOOLPROOF COOKBOOK FOR BRIDES, B ACHELORS & THOSE WHO HATE COOKING by Rohini Sikngh, Dec. 2011 (various prices – $49.75 new, also $30.66 new—hardcover used copy available from $3.50).

I CAN’T BOIL WATER…THE NEW BRIDE’S COOKBOOK, Katherine Jacobs, 2011, ($45.00)
Actually, this list is incomplete. There are probably a few dozen additional titles. And for those of you confused by the abundance of the same titles – it should be noted that “titles” cannot be copyrighted. So if you want to write a cookbook and call it the Bride’s Cookbook, – have at it.

I wanted to mention a couple of other things and maybe charm you with a recipe or two from something of Myra Waldo’s and Betty Wason’s respective cookbooks because they are two of my favorite cookbook authors and I have written about both on this blog. (See January, 2011 of my blog for posts about both of these prolific and interesting cookbook authors. I have also written on the blog about Henry Charpentier.

I have only a paperback copy of The Bride’s Cookbook by Myra Waldo but it’s in pretty good condition as paperback copies go. I have a hardcover copy of THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK by Poppy Cannon (sans a dust jacket but sometimes you can’t have everything ) – but I hit the jack pot with BRIDE IN THE KITCHEN by Betty Wason with a pristine copy that has a fine dust jacket. And – I didn’t go looking for it; it came to me. A reader of my blog, a retired nurse named Jane, had a copy in her possession – she doesn’t collect cookbooks – and it was my good fortune that Jane wrote to me offering her copy of this cookbook. (It also provided the inspiration for this blog post).

So, thank you, Jane. And just so you know, if you are looking for some other cookbooks to add to your growing collection, these are a few authors you won’t go wrong with…but I noted there are dozens of new cookbooks for brides on the market so feel free to check out some of those, as well. But I want to point out something that (for me, at least) makes those cookbook authors of the 50s and 60s so attractive – it’s just this – you won’t find frozen/prepackaged/streamlined recipes in these cookbooks. They were written at time when whoever was doing the cooking followed directions from A to Z; Myra Waldo’s baking powder biscuits won’t come in a can, refrigerated at your supermarket – her basic recipe for baking powder biscuits can be found on page 187 of her cookbook.

Myra’s recipe for Coq Au Vin (chicken in red wine) has mostly ingredients you will find on your pantry shelves, except maybe for small white onions, fresh mushrooms and some red wine (although I always have red wine on hand. I buy Burgundy wine in a jug and use it strictly for cooking. How else would I be able to make Beef Burgundy on short notice?

Betty Wason’s recipe for Arroz Con Pollo is made with chicken pieces such as legs, thighs, wings & backs (parts of the chicken you can often purchase for not very much money) and most of the other ingredients you will probably have on your pantry shelves This another one of those recipes that you can make a lot, for company, for very little – or even make it often if you are on a tight budget (most young brides I know are struggling to make ends meet—and it generally takes two incomes to do it).

If you would like to try Betty Wason’s recipe (which is popular amongst Californians), here it is:]

TO MAKE ARROZ CON POLLO you will need:

2 cups chicken broth, made with neck, wing tip & giblets (or 2 cups of Swanson chicken broth—or dissolve 2 chicken bouillon cubes in 2 cups of hot water—sls).
4 or 5 chicken pieces, such as a drumstick, 2 thighs, wing, back (or just buy a package of drumsticks or thighs—all thighs would be good for this recipe-sls).

¾ cup long-grain rice
1 TBSP butter
2 TBSP cooking oil (such as canola oil)
1 small onion, chopped
1 canned pimiento diced (or use a 4-oz can of diced pimiento)
1 small tomato chopped, or 1 TBSP chili sauce

Make a broth with wing tips, neck & giblets of the chicken by placing into a saucepan with 2 ½ cups water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until needed for the rice. Meantime, sprinkle salt over the chicken pieces. Heat butter and oil in skillet (the Corning Ware skillet would be perfect for this)…until it just starts to sizzle (don’t let butter get brown), add the chicken pieces and cook over high heat, quickly, until crispy brown. Remove chicken pieces to plate, turn heat to moderate, add onion, pimiento, and tomato or chili sauce. Cook until onion is soft. Add rice, stir to glaze. Stir the chicken broth, measuring 2 cups. (If much has cooked away, you may have to add water to make 2 cups liquid); add this to the rice. Replace the chicken pieces over the rice, cover the pan. Turn heat as low as possible, set timer for 20 minutes. Dish should be ready to serve by that time. If, however, you are not ready—or your spouse has not yet returned home—place the Corning Ware skillet, sans handle but covered, in oven set for 300 degrees until time to serve.

Sandy’s cooknote: I still have some of my Corning Ware – as does my best friend Mary Jaynne..but this might not be the most available type of top-of-the-stove baking dish available now. (sometimes you can find some Corning Ware dishes at yard sales.) Betty’s cookbook was published in 1964. However, I know there are various types of cookware (such as Pyrex) that can be used both on top of the stove and in the oven. This recipe can also be made in an electric skillet if you have one of those. I think Betty’s recipe for Caesar salad* would be a perfect accompaniment to Arroz Con Pollo but a bag of mixed salad greens—and a bottle of your favorite commercial salad dressing—and you have dinner.

*Betty’s recipe Caesar salad also contains raw egg—we didn’t have the danger of salmonella poisoning back in 1964. For this reason, I am not including that recipe in this post.

In Myra Waldo’s THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK there is a wealth of recipes and you don’t have to be a newlywed to enjoy them. I like her recipe for Marinated Roast Beef which is made with dry red wine—which I love to cook with (although I don’t drink red wines). Anytime you have a roast beef and there are any leftovers, you have the perfect makings for an easy beef stew. To make Myra’s MARINATED ROAST BEEF (for 6 to 8), you will need:

2 cups dry red wine
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp thyme
1 rolled roast beef (3 pounds)
½ tsp powdered ginger
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped

Begin marinating the beef the night before it is to be served.

Combine the wine, salt, pepper, thyme, ginger, bay leaf, and garlic in a bowl. Place the beef in it and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator [sandy’s cooknote: I would cover it with plastic wrap] Turn the meat and baste frequently. Remove from refrigerator 2 hours before roasting time.

Place the meat, marinade, onion, and tomato in a shallow roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer. Roast in a 325 degree (moderate) oven to the desired degree of rareness, about 55 minutes for rare. Baste occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Force the gravy through a sieve (strainer) or puree in an electric blender.

Sandy’s cooknote: You really want any kind of roast beef to have some standing time, about 15-20 minutes before you serve it, so the juices have time to redistribute. Personally, I like a roast to be more “medium” than rare – just a nice pink. My daughter in law likes meat to be a hockey puck, so we slice a well-done end piece for her. Something great for a roast like this would be oven roasted potatoes and carrots, or even baked potatoes.

I used to whip up an easy chocolate dessert that we called Blender Mouse—but Myra Waldo’s Quick Chocolate Mousse is similar and just as easy. To make Myra’s chocolate mousse, all you need is

2 ounces of sweet chocolate
2 TBSP water
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream

Break the chocolate into small pieces and combine with the water in a small saucepan* Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate melts. Cool 15 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Whip the cream (using an electric mixer) and fold it into the chocolate mixture. Spoon into a glass bowl chill 2 hours.

*Sandy’s cooknote: if you are like me and tend to get distracted and burn things, melt the chocolate in the top half of a double boiler. Have water in the lower half at a low simmer.
Recipe is from Myra Waldo’s THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK.

Happy Cooking!


My penpal, Betsy, who lives in Michigan, began downsizing her own cookbook collection a few years ago; some of the books went to her adult children—some she began sending to me. She also goes to book sales that are far more prolific in Michigan than they are in California and finds amazing treasures. Recently, she sent me three boxes of cookbooks which included several Gooseberry Patch cookbooks in like-new condition, and a few Quail Ridge “Best of the Best” cookbook collection. The latter contains cookbooks featuring all 50 states and in a few cases, a second volume on states such as Texas. Amongst the books she sent to me was a Volume II of Best of the Best from Virginia—which, surprisingly, I didn’t have. (It’s always amazing to me how many books she has sent that I didn’t have—and I have a pretty large collection).

When it’s a cookbook that I already have, I give the duplicate to a friend or one of my nieces.

Well, in one of the boxes that found its way to my doorstep this month is a booklet titled “CASTLE FARE” with a subtitle “Featuring AUTHENTIC RECIPES served in HEARST CASTLE, and next to it a price of $1.00. CASTLE FARE was compiled by Marjorie Collord and Ann Roranzi and it was published in 1965.

One Thanksgiving weekend in the late 1990s, Bob & I stayed at a motel on Route 1 in San Luis Obispo, and scheduled a tour of Hearst Castle for ourselves. Then, again, in 2008 when my penpal Sharon was visiting me and we went on a California Adventure road tour which included one of the Hearst Castle tours (There are 4, I think, from which to choose). It’s a spectacular Tour—one that average people like ourselves can’t begin to imagine.

When Sharon and I were there in 2008, we bought some books about Hearst Castle and I am quite sure we didn’t see a little cookbooklet such as the one Betsy sent to me.

Let me begin by telling you some of the history of the mansion created by famous newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951.

It was designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947. In 1957, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. Since that time it has been maintained as a state historic park where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. Despite its location far from any urban center, the site attracts about one million visitors per year.

According to Wikipedia on, Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark mansion located on the Central Coast of California, United States. Hearst formally named the estate “La Cuesta Encantada” (“The Enchanted Hill”), but usually called it “the ranch”. Hearst Castle and grounds are also sometimes referred to as “San Simeon” without distinguishing between the Hearst property and the adjacent unincorporated area of the same name.

Hearst Castle is located near the unincorporated community of San Simeon, California, approximately 250 miles (400 km) from both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and 43 miles (69 km) from San Luis Obispo at the northern end of San Luis Obispo County. The estate itself is five miles (eight kilometers) inland atop a hill of the Santa Lucia Range at an altitude of 1,600 feet (490 m). The region is sparsely populated because the Santa Lucia Range abuts the Pacific Ocean, which provides dramatic seaside vistas but few opportunities for development and hampered transportation. The surrounding countryside visible from the mansion remains largely undeveloped. Its entrance is adjacent to San Simeon State Park.

Hearst Castle was built on Rancho Piedra Blanca that William Randolph Hearst’s father, George Hearst, originally purchased in 1865. The younger Hearst grew fond of this site over many childhood family camping trips. He inherited the ranch, which had grown to 250,000 acres (1,012 km and fourteen miles (21 km) of coastline, from his mother Phoebe Hearst in 1919. Although the large ranch already had a Victorian mansion, the location selected for Hearst Castle was undeveloped, atop a steep hill whose ascent was a dirt path accessible only by foot or on horseback over five miles (8 km) of cutbacks.

Hearst first approached American architect Julia Morgan with ideas for a new project in April 1915, shortly after he took ownership. Hearst’s original idea was to build a bungalow, according to a draftsman who worked in Morgan’s office who recounted Hearst’s words from the initial meeting:

“I would like to build something upon the hill at San Simeon. I get tired of going up there and camping in tents. I’m getting a little too old for that. I’d like to get something that would be a little more comfortable…”

After approximately one month of discussion, Hearst’s original idea for a modest dwelling swelled to grand proportions. Discussion for the exterior style switched from an initial suggestion of Japanese and Korean themes to the Spanish Revival that was gaining popularity and which Morgan had helped to initiate with her work on the Los Angeles Herald Examiner headquarters in 1915. Hearst was fond of Spanish Revival, but dissatisfied with the crudeness of the colonial structures in California. Mexican colonial architecture had more sophistication but he objected to its profusion of ornamentation. Turning to the Iberian Peninsulafor inspiration, he found Renaissance and Baroque examples in southern Spain more to his tastes. Hearst particularly admired a church in Ronda and asked Morgan to pattern the Main Building towers after it. The Panama-California Exposition of 1915 in San Diego held the closest approaches in California to the look Hearst desired. He decided to substitute a stucco exterior in place of masonry in deference to Californian traditions.

By late summer 1919 Morgan had surveyed the site, analyzed its geology, and drawn initial plans for the Main Building. Construction began in 1919 and continued through 1947 when Hearst stopped living at the estate due to ill health. Morgan persuaded Hearst to begin with the guest cottages because the smaller structures could be completed more quickly.

The estate is a pastiche of historic architectural styles that its owner admired in his travels around Europe. Hearst was an omnivorous buyer who did not so much purchase art and antiques to furnish his home as built his home to get his bulging collection out of warehouses. This led to incongruous elements such as the private cinema whose walls were lined with shelves of rare books. The floor plan of the Main Building is chaotic due to his habit of buying centuries-old ceilings, which dictated the proportions and decor of various rooms.

Hearst Castle featured 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres (0.5 km) of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world’s largest private zoo. Zebras and other exotic animals still roam the grounds. Morgan, an accomplished civil engineer, devised a gravity-based water delivery system which transports water from artesian wells on the slopes of Pine Mountain, a 3,500-foot (1,100 m) high peak 7 miles (11 km) east of Hearst Castle, to a reservoir on Rocky Butte, a 2,000-foot (610 m) knoll less than a mile southeast from Hearst Castle.

One highlight of the estate is the outdoor Neptune Pool, located near the edge of the hilltop, which offers an expansive vista of the mountains, ocean and the main house. The Neptune Pool patio features an ancient Roman temple front, transported wholesale from Europe and reconstructed at the site. Hearst was an inveterate tinkerer, and would tear down structures and rebuild them at a whim. For example, the Neptune Pool was rebuilt three times before Hearst was satisfied. As a consequence of Hearst’s persistent design changes, the estate was never completed in his lifetime.

Invitations to Hearst Castle were highly coveted during its heyday in the 1920s and ’30s. The Hollywood and political elite often visited, usually flying into the estate’s airfield or taking a private Hearst-owned train car from Los Angeles. Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, James Stewart, Bob Hope, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Dolores Del Rio, and Winston Churchill were among Hearst’s A-list guests. While guests were expected to attend the formal dinners each evening, they were normally left to their own devices during the day while Hearst directed his business affairs. Since “the Ranch” had so many facilities, guests were rarely at a loss for things to do. The estate’s theater usually screened films from Hearst’s own movie studio, Cosmopolitan Productions…” (from Wikipedia)

A closer look at guests arriving at Hearst Castle is related in “CASTLE FARE”; the foreword to the 1965 cookbooklet was written by William Randolph Hearst Jr., who writes, “I first started sampling the food as a kid at San Simeon along about 1919…practically all of the perishable food – beef and venison, all sorts of poultry, eggs, most of the fish, vegetables and fruits were raised, shot, caught or grown and eaten right there on the place, which, of course, contributes a great deal to the savory result.

The cooking was, with exception of a very few dishes, just plain American home cooking. By this I don’t mean Grandma Hearst or Mom did it themselves, but I do mean that there was a minimum of dishes done in a fancy French or Italian style.

There were some, of course, as Pop was a great fancier of fowl and raised literally dozens of varieties of pheasant, guinea hen and partridges, ducks, geese, and what not, right there on the ranch…”

William Randolph Hearst Jr goes on to write that while…the food was plainly cooked, his father was not…a steak and potato man. His taste ran more to fowl and birds, lamb chops, cornbeef (sic) and cabbage, ham and hominy grits, and on occasion rare roast beef, kidneys, tripe, etc. rather than T-bone.

The senior Mr. Hearst was also a nibbler, rarely passing a bowl of nuts or candy or fruit without sampling it. He never touched scotch or gin but enjoyed a glass of wine or beer with most of his meals. While the younger Hearst never saw his father drinking brandy, he did have a sweet tooth for liqueurs like Cointreau, Benedictine and crème de menthe.

William Randolph Hearst was also a late sleeper…and if he had breakfast at all it might be a bit of fresh fruit and a cup of coffee with at least half hot milk.

Lunch would be about 1:30 pm, dinner around 8:30 or 9:00 pm, followed by a movie. At luncheon, it was expected that guests be prompt since this meal was served buffet style. Often there were still roaming around the grounds when the luncheon hour arrive, so the butler would pick up the brass cow bell located conveniently on the top of an antique anvil…step out the front door and ring the bell vigorously.

At seven in the evening, guests would start to gather in the Assembly Hall or Living room for cocktails, which were mixed and served by the butlers. Mr. Hearst usually did not appear until 8 pm. He would relax for an hour before dinner, with his little dachshund, Helena, close by. Guests would wander in singly or in small groups to greet and have a few words with their host. At 9 pm, the butler would announce dinner and invite guests to enter one of the most harmonious and beautiful rooms in the castle. This dining room is now referred to as the Refectory and if you have ever toured Hearst Castle, you would be impressed, first and foremost, by the size of the room (67’ long, 27 ft wide) and has a 16th century ceiling from a monastery in Northern Italy. The ceiling displays Christian saints carved from cedar and linden wood. The dining tables are Monastic Refectory tables that are long and narrow because 300 years ago, when Monks dined at these tables, discipline dictated meditation rather than conversation during meals; consequently, the religious only sat at one side of the table.

In contrast to the tables, the chairs are modern reproductions of a 16th Century Dante chair. These copies were, however, made from antique walnut furniture that could not be salvaged so that in a sense are antique themselves. Each chair will fold similar to a camp stool. When Sharon and I toured Hearst Castle in August of 2008, it was almost impossible to take it all in. Tour guides do explain things as you are walking along, but the opulence and sheer magnitude of everything you are seeing makes it almost impossible to take it all in.
If you are interested in visiting Hearst Castle at San Simeon, (and a million visitors a year do so) I suggest booking a motel room in San Luis Obispo, a fantastic college town only about 50 miles south of Hearst Castle, or book at one of the motels along Pismo Beach. It doesn’t take that long to get there. You can pack a picnic lunch, if you like, and enjoy it across the road from the entrance, at a park with a pier.

Whenever I have been there, the park has been doing a bustling business; it might be a good idea to reserve tickets for one of the tours. This is what I have done the last two times I visited Hearst Castle.

I can only imagine how magnificent it must have been when William Randolph Hearst was in residence, living in this impossibly beautiful place – most certainly and surely La Cuesta Encantada. For recipes and more information about Hearst Castle back in the day, you might want to find a copy of CASTLE FARE. I noticed some copies are available on

–Sandra Lee Smith