Sunday, 3 March 2013

Sally and Her Kitchens - May Worthington

Today's post is a short follow-up from Candy Nevill where the book Sally and Her Kitchens is mentioned in passing. Candy and Bets give this book to another girl a birthday present which Bets immediately plots to borrow back from her friend. I sympathised with her plotting as I could never find enough books as a child. The mother produces it from a magical cupboard containing spare presents and the like. I always wish I had one of those when I realise that I may not have been quite a good enough friend to post a birthday card in time. Now, to Sally. This wasn't an easy book to track down. Yes, it might be in a few research libraries, but finding a copy of your own seems rather too much to hope for. I don't think there's a copy for sale at the moment so anyone wanting to sell may do very well. This scarcity surprised me as it went through several printings between 1939 and (at least) 1941 and seems to be well-known by American readers. It's a Dodd Mead Career Book for girls and written in a similar way to the careers books from the 1950s that Bodley Head printed. Sally and Her Kitchens was written by May Worthington and illustrated in very effective line drawings by Marguerite Bryan. Even finding the odd image hasn't been easy and, since I read it in a research library, I can't provide any. Well, not and keep the library card.

So, this is a 256 page novel about home economics set in Hawaii and California and the pace is brisk. Sally Lewis, a girl for whom the term 'pep' applies, takes a job as cook to a boarding school in 1939 Hawaii before moving on to run a tea room in California. She's lucky enough to supervise a team of Chinese cooks and have plenty of time off to find nice young men, tour the pineapple fields and do a fair bit of shopping and recipe gathering. I enjoyed this novel for the vintage recipes and mentions of 'new' foods. We're all so used to year-round tropical fruits, that it's a shock to read about how to prepare alligator pears (avocados) or papaya. It's also nice to read about the menu planning for large parties and teaching pupils how to welcome and serve guests with macarons, lemon bars and date bars. All classics of American entertaining and Martha Stewart's website can provide recipes and pictures.

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