Friday, January 14, 2011

A Closer Look At The Books
- Esquire's Handbook for Hosts, 1949

This is one of my more entertaining books. I think the audience for this book was the 1950 metrosexual male. (This book belonged to someone named Shelly - not sure if that is a man or a woman.)

It's not strictly a cookbook but it does contain hundreds of food and drink recipes.

The recipes are appealing. They try to have an air of sophistication about them although there is a recipe for buttered toast.

The recipes don't seem very dated to me. There are many international recipes - Armenian, Indian, French, Italian, Hungarian, Russian - even Turkish! Even though this book is supposed to be about being a good host, there are a few recipes geared toward eating alone and the one for hot dog stew caught my eye.

The drink recipes are even more appealing. I'm not a big drinker but it doesn't seem like people drink the variety of cocktails that they once did. I am tempted to try many of these drinks. Maybe not this one though:


1 quart beer
1/2 pint of brandy
2 eggs
Sugar to taste
Small amounts of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg

Stir thoroughly until well mixed.

I think this is a classic drink somewhere in the world but it does not appeal to me. But I may tell the next person who annoys me to 'Huckle-My-Butt'. It can be my own Kiss-My-Grits catch phrase.

This book contains plenty of information on entertaining - conversation tips, card games, party games, party tricks - even after-dinner witchcraft.

There are a few pages devoted to figuring out how attractive you are to the opposite sex. Here are some of the highlights:

How Attractive Are You To Men?
If you are asked to get another girl for a foursome, do you pick one obviously less attractive than you are? You are unwise to do so. Get the most glamorous girl you know and both men will be pleased.

I'm not going to argue, I don't think women should compete with each other, but since this book is written from the male point of view, the answer didn't surprise me the least bit.

Do men marvel at your capacity for holding liquor? A great mistake: it gives you a fast reputation and runs into money - the man's money - besides.

A think a good portion of men today would actually consider buying a woman liquor a good investment.

How many comfortable chairs are in your living room? At least two, I hope. No man can fall in love unless he has a chance to relax and he he can't if either of you sits bolt upright.

I wonder how many women ended up as old maids in the 1950s soley because of a poor choice of living room furniture.

Do you either play bridge or dance really well? If not, takes steps to correct this at once. You're better off to do both well, but at least one talent is mandatory.

Those aren't that talents Cosmo tells me I need.

How Attractive Are You To Women?

Do you show your devotion to a woman by holding her hand or putting your arm around her when her friends are present? Please don't. Even a girl who is affectionate in private dislikes public mauling.

Hand holding was considered a public mauling in 1949?! I find that hard to believe.

Would you dine a girl expensively and not buy her flowers or economize on the place and bring her at least a gardenia? Most women would prefer having flowers and less to eat.

No wonder women were smaller back then. They were surrounded by lots of pretty flowers too.

Do you consider it a young girl's own business whether she gets tight and is indiscreet when she's out with you? Keep an inexperienced girl from getting tight, if you have to spank her, and don't let any woman become indiscreet through liquor. Triumphs over liquor don't help any man.

So you can't hold her hand or put your arm around her, but you can spank her?

The book suggests that the host not get too drunk at his own party. They suggest a few ways he can tell if he's had too many:

The Sober Duty Of A Host

You've had a few if ..

You hold eight diamonds to the ten, jack, a singleton spade and four small clubs, and bid one heart figuring that, although you are vulnerable, a psychic bid, in an effort to save rubber, is a fine strategic move.

Well, duh! This is the most obvious sign that you are drunk. I think even police officers are using this as part of their sobriety test.

You think it might be fun to send a telegram to somebody.

When I was in my heyday, drunk dialing was the problem. Now it is drunk texting, facebooking or tweeting. But back in 1950, drunk telegram sending was the danger?! I have to say, that one might still hold as a good indication that you've had too much to drink.

And what if one of your guests over imbibes?

Is There A Drunk In The House?

Since you guests might not be as careful as you to stay on the sober side, you'd best bone up on How To Handle A Drunk On The Premises. Your object, whenever a drunk guest begins to annoy the rest of the party, is to lure the lush into a bedroom and get him to take a nap. "Let's have a drink in here" or "I must speak to you alone" are the approaches most likely to succeed. Thereafter, the use of Mickey Finns is not particularly recommended; you can often achieve the same effect with bed or chair combined with just one more very strong slug.

This is so wrong, on so many levels. Luring drunks into your bedroom? One more strong slug? Yes, with any luck that will push the guest right into alchohol poisoning and he won't disturb any of your future parties either.

The illustrations are gorgeous and the cartoons are amusing:

I also got a few bonus items with this book:

A paper napkin from Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans. I will assume it was saved here for the drink recipes printed on the other side.

also, a dried rose:

I paid either 50 cents or a dollar for this book from my former cookbook guy (my dealer LOL). He never came back after giving up his stall at the auction when gas prices started going up. As much as I miss him, I think I would be buried in cookbooks by now if he hadn't left.

This wasn't the only edition of this book, I'm not sure how many or which was the earliest. There are many copies floating around out there. I think this would make an amusing AND useful gift for the modern single man.


Annie Jones said...

If Shane gave me flowers instead of food, I'd deck him one. Just sayin... ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh, my gosh! This is hilarious. I don't know which was better, the suggestions or your comments.


Wanda said...

ROFLOL! I love this post! Cookbooks themselves are interesting but those dated suggestions and your comments were hilarious!

Tammy said...

Paula, I loved reading this! Thanks for posting it! :)

Brian D said...

Searching for a review brought me here to this, the best of all commentaries. I loved reading about the Pat O'Brien's napkin and rose.