Saturday, August 16, 2014

Let's Try Some Eye-talian Food!

I love the way old cookbooks give me an idea of what foods were familiar in their time periods and what was exciting and new. Eating tongue for supper might not be much of a surprise for a farm family in the '50s, but "Eye-talian" food-- now that could be exotic, especially to Americans with no Italian heritage. Just looking at the titles of the recipes in The Italian Cookbook from Culinary Arts Institute (1956) shows how foreign the cuisine seemed.

Paging through desserts, I spotted this recipe

and giggled just a bit. "Cream Rolls"? Who really needs "Cannoli" to be translated? People in the '50s, apparently. And don't object that every recipe has a translation because a very few recipes do assume that readers will know what the food is without needing a translation. "Lasagna" is just labeled that, not called something like "Layered Sauce, Cheese, and Noodle Casserole." "Minestrone" is not called "Vegetable Bean Soup with Pasta." The book assumes some familiarity with Italian foods-- just not exotic dishes like cannoli.

I giggled even more when I saw this one:

"Macaroni Muffs"? (I'll admit, my giggling was significantly more adolescent this time. Don't tell anyone.) Imagine a time when "Macaroni Muffs" was a clearer title than the simple "Manicotti."

Sometimes the titles work the other way, though. What do I mean? I'm pretty sure that this is actually an American recipe that the Culinary Arts Institute wants to sound more authentically Italian:

I can't imagine too many '50s Italian grandmothers making "Pizza Biscottata all 'Inglese" in the old country. What do you think?


  1. Hee hee! As we can see from the pictures, Christopher Columbus seems to really enjoys muff... I mean "manicotti" ;)

    And on a personal note: when I was a young girl growing up in the 80s, there was nothing I liked better than English Muffin pizzas. Especially if my mother could find, mini pepperoni!

  2. Have you ever had English muffin pizzas on homemade English muffins? They are sooo good.