A Complete Guide to Fine Cooking for Beginner and Expert (originally published 1949).

Am I worthy to worship at the feet of the master?  I get the impression he’d rather I just brought him a nice jar of homemade pickles.

I picked up Fireside Cookbook and Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food on the same day at the library, and while I can’t stand Alice Waters’ attitude about food (which came across as genuinely uppity), it does make a good contrast to James Beard.

James Beard was writing right after WWII, and it shows.  He’s trying to convince people to eat better, as best he can.  That sounds bad (or at least uppity), but it isn’t.  People had just started to eat convenience food out of cans; he saw that and tried to show them how fun it was to potter around in the kitchen.

I was fascinated by the sheer range of seafood and fish dishes he suggests as casually as I might suggest book titles.  And, apparently, he loved appetizers with a passion that some men save for their excessively multiple mistresses.  But James Beard was also a master of meat.  He almost has me convinced to try making some tongue, after all:

Tongue Rolls

1 t chopped onion
2 t horseradish
1/2 t dry mustard
1 pkg cream cheese
parsley, chopped
12 thin cold tongue slices…

The way he describes it makes me think that the processed lunchmeat (bologna) we eat is a kind of secret version of tongue. I imagine it as elastic, but possibly not unpleasantly so.

However, when it comes to vegetables, the recipes looked about as exciting as, erm, cold tongue.  Take a vegetable, boil it, and put salt and cream on it.  Or fry them.  Or sprinkle hard-boiled egg on top.  Or put 1/2 c. mayo on top.  Anything to kill the flavor, apparently.

I’m sure Alice Waters would not approve.  Really, I don’t either.