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A World of Menus and Recipes

My mother-in-law called me up last night to ask for a recipe that she'd lost in transition. It comes from a wonderful old cookbook, A World of Menus and Recipes by a lady called Gertrude Bosworth Crum. Mrs Crum, who appears to have led an interesting life, ran Menus By Mail, a subscription service much used (it was said) by diplomats. When she published the book in 1970, it was rumored that Jacqueline Kennedy had relied on Menus By Mail, and that assured the book a success in certain quarters, notably my Jackie-holic mother.

In brisk, soigné prose, Mrs Crum pulls off the neat trick of appearing to address both the well-heeled and well-organized women who bought the book and their cooks. Efficiency is everything, and if there is a corner that can be cut, it's cut. Processed ingredients seem to appear in every recipe, and yet few of the recipes are budget productions. The menu from which the Beets in Aspic recipe is drawn is a "Weekend Luncheon" of Crab Salad (two pounds of crab meat - ouf! - 1½ cups mayonnaise and 1¼ cups mustard; simplicity itself), served with the beets ("If you have used a ring mold for your Julienne of Beets in aspic, fill the center of the ring with crab salad."), and followed by a Compote of Fresh and Cooked Fruits with Chocolate Cookies. I don't think that I've ever followed an entire menu.

Continue reading about Mrs Crum at Portico.


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