Saturday, April 25, 2015

It's Ten P.M. Do you know what a pizza is?

You better not be sick of Good Housekeeping's Cook Books (1958) because I'm not, and I've got twenty full booklets to discuss. I'm hoping to give each at least a mention, but there's a pretty good chance some of them will come up multiple times.

The "Ten P.M. Cook Book" is one of those books because aside from recipes for everyday parties, it also has recipes for various holidays. I'm not going to tell you how to celebrate Thanksgiving today, but you might want to know how to celebrate Thanksgiving at Ten P.M. when we get to November!

Today we will be looking at the ways this booklet plays with definitions.

Sometimes, I think the definition is a little too... well... strict. Guess what is facing the page with this at the top:

If you guessed "Strictly Stag" meant this...

...a pan full of beans and franks at varying degrees of ... uh ... interest? attention? ... then you understood they meant business when they said "Strictly Stag."

Sometimes the book uses the time as an excuse to rename a pretty familiar dish to make it sound more like party food. If you don't want English muffin pizzas to sound like an after-school snack, call them something else.

"Ten P.M. Pizzas" certainly sound more exciting and adult. Plus cutting each muffin half into four to six (teeny) wedges makes them into hors d'oeuvres! Have an Eye-talian (sorry, you have to  pronounce it that way in the '50s!) stereotype serve them with an expression that suggests he is fine with the concept of English muffin pizzas, and you've got a solid party.

Then sometimes, the definitions get a little too broad. I'm perfectly content to accept an English muffin pizza as a pizza, even if Luigi there is probably trying very hard not to roll his eyes as he serves the ignorant party-goers. At least these mini-pies have real pizza toppings: tomato (paste), salami, olives, mushrooms, cheese, even oregano and thyme. They're legit as far as I'm concerned.

There are other things even I will not accept as pizza.

(Sorry about the weird format, but the book's shape and size makes it difficult to copy sometimes!)

French rolls are a fine start-- French bread pizza can be yummy. Ham, oregano, Parmesan and even Cheddar cheeses-- definitely okay. But canned tuna and "catchup"? Forget it! Defining this as a "pizza" is going too far, even if it's served at night with the lights turned low in an attempt to hide the shame.


  1. Is that frank in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

    That's an open faced tuna melt w/ "catchup", not pizza.

    1. That's the most reasonable interpretation!