Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why yes, the rolls are happy to see you!

When my sister was in elementary school, she had to write a report about snails. I will always remember that report because she illustrated it with a picture that just cracked me up: a snail wearing novelty googly-eye glasses (you know, the kind with fake eyes popping out on springs) over its eyestalks. Eyestalks look weird enough as it is-- with the added whimsy of novelty glasses, I thought that was the funniest picture I'd seen in my young life.

So what does this have to do with vintage cookbooks? Well, I just picked up "Metropolitan Cook Book" (a pamphlet put out by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in June 1959) mostly because the whimsy of the pictures made me think of my sister.

We'll need some fanfare to start our tour:

How about an all-food band? I never knew pears could play trumpets or that a partially peeled potato could strike me as being scantily clad, but there we have it.

Some of the food seems eerily happy or excited about the prospect of being eaten:

 The cake is so delicious that it can't resist tasting itself, and the carrots, tomatoes, and other veggies are beaming as they line up for a dunk in the soup.

Other foods are less sold on the idea of being consumed, though:

The cookies are intent on making an escape from the cookie jar.

The eggs have mixed emotions:

One egg seems really pissed off at the big egg for hatching. Maybe he thinks hatching is a bit inappropriate in the view of women and children. (At least, I assume that is what the hat-wearing egg with her passel of tiny eggs is meant to represent.... I'm not quite sure how we have a mommy egg with baby eggs, but I guess I have to take this world on its own terms.) That egg between angry egg and hatching egg breaks the fourth wall by returning the viewer's gaze. He seems a bit worried about what we're thinking of all of this, perhaps concerned that we will guess his secret identity. I stared at him for a few minutes, and I think I figured it out. I'm pretty sure he's Jason from Home Movies. What do you think?

The egg family isn't the only unusual family. In its own way, this one makes more sense:

The parental cake is having trouble keeping those leap-frogging little cupcakes in line. Maybe the cake should have thought of the realities of parenthood before anybody pulled out the muffin tins....

I wanted to make sure you had at least a few recipes to go with the pictures. If you need some lunch ideas, how about a nice peanut butter and deviled ham sandwich? Cottage cheese with watercress and mayo?

The picture, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with any of the suggested sandwiches. It also doesn't have much of a sense of scale. It looks as if a grape tomato is exasperated to find itself in a sandwich consisting of half a fish that has not been cleaned (scales, bones, and all!), a teeny weeny strip of bacon, a miniature pickle, a fried hummingbird egg, and maybe a couple of saltine crackers, along with a small patch of aquarium gravel and a berry still on its stem. That will be one memorable sandwich!

This picture probably reminds me the most of my sister's sense of humor:

A pie getting a pie in the face! I just love it.

And to cap it all off, some rolls that have yeast in their pockets AND they're happy to see you:

Know what I mean? Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Say no more.


  1. Vintage illustrations AND a Monty Python reference?! You made my day :D

    1. And it makes my day to know Monty Python references are seen and appreciated!

  2. Thank you for the Home Movies reference. That egg absolutely looks like Jason!

  3. I adore vintage cookbook cartoons! One of my main reasons for loving them so much! Thanks!

    1. They can be pretty great! A lot of cookbooks are too serious.