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Friday, April 13, 2012

My, Chef, What Big Teeth You Have!




Once upon a time (1950), the American male was a pitiful creature who relied utterly upon the fairer sex for all of his nutritional needs. A man could go a whole lifetime being fed by women — first his mother, then his wife, then, perhaps, a nurse. The kitchen was a place of mystery he never ventured into, much like the way the women steered clear of the garage. A man was slave to his wife’s tastes, abilities and appetites — he just handed over his paycheck and hoped for the best. What he wanted was bacon and eggs, steak and BBQ, pie, and drinks — plenty of them. Instead, he got cereal and salad and casseroles and OJ. How could he be expected to perform his vital functions on such paltry fare?


The answer was to encourage men to claim their inner wolf and claim the kitchen as their own territory so that they could dictate what to fill their bellies with. The problem they faced (besides figuring out how to make fire come out of the stove) was that they couldn’t read. Not a single one. Sure, they were semi-literate when it came to manly words, like street signs and instruction manuals, but for the most part, actual reading left them cold. Men, as we all know, prefer the more immediate stimulation of pictures rather than text, and all the cookbooks had a lot of sentences in them.


The authors of A Wolf In Chef’s Clothing came up with the perfect solution: write a cookbook only using pictures! It freed a man from having to calculate what ounces and spoonfuls were by providing handy illustrations. How could it possibly go wrong? Well, for one thing, no man would be caught dead buying a cookbook, so they gave this one a very large alcoholic beverage section, and supplied dating tips alongside the recipes. Even the simplest task could be used to win over a hapless lady — including this charming lass, who has stayed the night at her beau’s abode and is still clad in her stocking and a fancy mule.


I hope she knows that should she decide to stay and become his betrothed, he will be the one doing all the fetching and carrying, baking, broiling and frying. And shopping and washing up. And sweeping, polishing and gardening. And laundry. And howling at the moon.

The New Wolf in Chef’s Clothing , Robert H. Leob, Jr., 1950

Also from this book: Steakmanship

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