Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Treasury of Great Recipes: Review

A Treasury of Great Recipes (1965) by Mary and Vincent Price is a treasure itself on so many levels. First, of all, I love Vincent Price and reading through this glorious recipe book was lovely experience. Mary was responsible for the look of the cookbook--the cover, the photos, the arrangements of the food in the photos and Vincent wrote the introductory pieces for each section and the reminiscences which precede each recipe. I could absolutely hear his voice reading those introductions to me. Vincent Price so very obviously enjoyed life and food and travel were two of his favorite parts of life. His joy in traveling the world--sampling the local food, discovering new restaurants, wheedling treasured recipes out of the chefs--that joy spills over into all the memories and tidbits that he shared with us in this cookbook.

It is also a delight to look at all the menus from a by-gone era when fresh lobster could be had fro $4.50 and desserts would run less than a dollar. Unfortunately, most of the restaurants featured in the book are gone. Some having disappeared only within the last 10-15 years or so. But it is still fun to look at the pictures from some of the best eateries of the 1960s and to know that Vincent and Mary have preserved a number of the best recipes for us.

One thing that I found amusing was the fact that Wolfgang Puck (who writes an introduction for this--the 50th anniversary edition) made a great deal of the fact that Vincent Price--movie star that he was--was just a Midwestern boy at heart. Having grown up in St. Louis, he was a down-to-earth kind of guy and ALL (emphasis mine) of these recipes were intended as helps for the average housewife. Well--either I'm not an average housewife or "average" means something quite different to Wolfgang than it does to me--because I have never served baby octopus at my house and, quite frankly, can't ever imagine myself doing so. There are several recipes that call for ingredients that this average housewife does not keep stocked in her pantry....

But. That doesn't mean that I might not get adventurous and try some of the more out-of-the-way selections (NOT baby octopus, though). In fact, I'm quite determined that a copy of this book needs to find its way into my house on a permanent basis (this one was from the library). The desserts especially look fantastic and there are several chicken recipes that I'm anxious to try. This is definitely a book for those who love cooking and who enjoy peeking into the kitchens of a different time and place....oh, and it's a definite must-read for those who love Vincent Price. ★★★★ 


Andrea Stoeckel said...

I have an original signed copy of the Prices’ book. I’ve used it a lot over the years. It’s the only place I know that has authentic Indian Pudding from Fanuel Hall in Boston. It was one I refused to give up in the downsizing of my cookbook collection.1

Bev Hankins said...

Ooooh! How wonderful for you to have a signed copy. I adore Vincent Price and would love to have an autographed original. that would be sweet.