I am now working in the culinary archives of U of M's Clements Library two days a week. My first project is to write a piece for the online resource guide summarizing and providing insight into the materials the library has that are relevant to food and gender. The idea is that a student or other interested party can come online and easily assess what the library has to offer through exploration of these items by broader topics instead of just hundreds and hundreds of book titles.
Yesterday I came across a silly little book called Lew Lehr's Cookbook for Men. The book has a bright green cover with a goofy cartoon chef guy on the front. It was written in 1949. The book jacket makes references to the adventurous spirit of the male, and how ladies' cookbooks are "too prim and exact for the real he-man."
Originally, I thought the book would be incredibly biased, drawing a bold line between bored and proper housewives, and making fun of them in turn. And while there existed some cartoon sketches worthy of my millennium-perspectived eye roll, I actually found the book to be quite refreshing! Lew acknowledged the great cooks before him (his mother and grandmother, primarily), and paid his respects to the women who left the kitchen during the war. I found the book to be a kind of invitation for men across America (he nods his head at expert male European Chefdom) to wander into the kitchen and try their hands at cooking.
The recipes are simply written, with no more than 8 or so ingredients and scarcely more than a paragraph of method. The author claims no expertise; this chef simply wants to make the most of what's around. Ingredients often include such things as liver, bacon, bacon fat, gravy, sausage, meat—things that a person minding their weight would likely scoff at, but for which I have nothing but a stomach-grumbling grin.
I stumbled upon this recipe, one of four listed in the "Egg" section of his book. I think it is probably meant to be made using leftover mashed potatoes, as he gave no instructions for how to prepare the potatoes themselves. I committed the recipe only to memory, and have written here it in the style that Lou writes. I hope you enjoy this manly procedure!
Eggs for Men
based on a recipe by Lew Lehr
Grease a flat baking dish. Intersperse large scoops of mashed potatoes across the baking dish and, using the back of a soup spoon, press down into the center of each scoop of potato to create a basin. Crumble bacon into the basins, and season with salt, pepper, a dot of butter and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Finally, crack an egg into the center of each basin. Bake at 350º for 15-20 minutes, or until the eggs are set.