Strong opinions, weakly held

What people were cooking in 1922

I’ve seen several links today to The Stag Cook Book, published in 1922 with the subtitle “Written for Men by Men.” I’m pretty sure it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever read.

The book’s concept is simple — famous people of the time were asked to supply recipes and short essays. It has a recipe for waffles from Warren G. Harding, Houdini’s deviled eggs, and Charlie Chaplin’s steak and kidney pie. Rube Goldberg supplied a funny article about hash. Montague Glass provides a recipe for bouillabaisse that’s a timeless piece of food writing. Frank Ward O’Malley’s article on Rum-Tum-Tiddy captures its period better than an entire season of Mad Men.

There’s something fascinating on every page. How differently did people eat in 1922 than they do today? A quick trip through the book provides the answer. S. S. McLure’s instructions for cooking an omelette stand the test of time. Douglas Fairbanks’ bread tart will not be made in any kitchen we’re likely to visit.

This book illustrates why long copyright terms are such a poor idea. This book is out of print, and even if it weren’t, nobody would buy it. But at the same time, it’s a fascinating historical artifact and I’m ecstatic that it’s available online. You should be, too.


  1. Wow: Hog Jowl and Turnip Greens (Paducah Style) !!!

    Not to disagree with your general copyright comment but it’s not actually out of print – there are paperback and hardcover reprints available on Amazon.

  2. I’ll have to add this to my reading list. I just picked up (but have yet to start reading) “The Food of a Younger Land” which is based on the Federal Writers Project back in the 40s, part of the New Deal program. It’s goal was to chronicle the eating habits and differences among different regions of the country before we became one homogeneous of mass non-food eaters.

  3. Hmmm…Except for the grape juice, I could see myself making some of Fairbanks’ bread tarts.

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