Thursday, September 02, 2004
Yesterday's entry got me thinking about cookbooks. The recipe comes from the 1986 edition of Betty Crocker's Cookbook. From what I can remember, the pictures, the recipes, and the thorough but rather bland cooking advice is the same from the 1972 edition we used as kids. Looking through it now, it seems old-fashioned. Instead of telling you how to cook a dinner in 30 minutes with five ingredients or less, this cookbook is like a museum of American cooking, before the age of Lean Cuisine and the microwave oven. Want to know how to cook beets? Betty gives you several healthy and delicious suggestions. Unsure how to roast a side of pork? Step-by-step directions are available on page 220.

The cookbook I remember from my childhood was from the era when Betty wore a stylin' beehive hairdo. With her stern gaze and from that determined set of her mouth, she looked like the ultimate mother. The Ladies Auxiliary president. The best authority on how to make a cake rise or ways to thicken a gravy without lumps. When I found out Betty was not a real woman, that there wasn't a Mother Superior dispensing wisdom from the cleanest kitchen in the world, I was shocked. She has a whole cookbook named after her. How can she not be real? (This wasn't quite as devastating as learning there was no Santa, but it ranks up there on the "This is a Cruel, Cruel World" realization list.)

These days, I love the pictures of Betty Crocker through the ages. (You can check them out here.) I think the 1950's Betty looks like Eleanor Roosevelt. The 1986 Betty looks like she's entered the World of Work. With bow tie at her throat, I'd say she's an attorney who balances raising her kids, running five miles a day, volunteering at the local homeless shelter, and serving as the president of the PTA.

In the 1990s, I remember when they introduced the newest Betty Crocker image. The produce of computer morphing, the new Betty was younger and had darker hair and skin tones--a more multicultural Betty. Funny, I've looked all around the Betty Crocker web page, and I don't see her picture anywhere.


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