A friend of mine excitedly posted a link the other day on facebook with the accompanying note that “Warren G. Harding’s recipe for waffles is freely available on Google books.” The link took me to a 1922 cookbook entitled The Stag Cook Book, Written for Men By Men (or, alternately, as the cover to the right shows, with the slightly different subtitle A Man’s Cook Book for Men). Dedicated to “That Great Host of Bachelors and Benedicts Alike, who at one time or another tried to ‘cook something’; and who, in the attempt, have weakened under a fire of feminine raillery and sarcasm, only to spoil what, under more favorable circumstances, would have proved a chef-dœvre,” it reminded me of Tona’s fascinating and fun post from last week on “etiquette and advice manual[s] updating 19th and early 20th century counsel for the 21st century man.” Here, I realized, was a very real example (if one in which the author/editor’s tongue was planted firmly in his cheek) of the sort of literature artofmanliness.com tries to update for the 21st century.* And it didn’t disappoint. In addition to Warren G. Harding’s waffle recipe (in which we learn that “President Harding is a staunch upholder of the gravy school and likes his in the form of creamed chipped beef”—none of that sissy honey or maple syrup for the ringleader of the Ohio Gang), we’re also given access to Charlie Chaplin’s steak and kidney pie speciality and Houdini’s scalloped mushrooms and deviled eggs. So what does any of this have to do with Mormon history, you ask? Well, among the other contributors to the volume was Mormon senator Reed Smoot, who provided his peach cobbler recipe. Without further ado, here it is in all of its sugary goodness:
One of my favorite dishes is peach cobbler. I am told that it originated in the south, but its fame has spread far beyond the limits of the Mason and Dixon line. It is made in this way:
Line a baking dish or pan, about three and one-half inches deep, with a rich pastry. There must be no break in the pastry. Then fill the dish to the brim with peaches—ripe, luscious ones, that have been pared and broken—not cut—in half. Sugar generously, and leave in about six or eight of the peach pits—they give a certain flavor that only peach pits may impart.
Cover the peaches with an unbroken upper crust of pastry; seal it tightly along the sides, so that none of the juices or aromas may escape. Bake in a slow oven until nearly brown—then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar, that will give a certain professional luster to the dish. After that finish the browning process.
A cobbler containing a quart of peaches should bake for about one hour.
Revealing of the era in which it was written, the following editor’s note is included at the bottom:
EDITOR’s NOTE:—Senator Smoot is not alone in his partiality toward peach cobbler. Back in the days before Volstead, famous cobblers were produced just as above with the addition of brandy, say a cup to a quart of peaches—but that, of course, was a long time ago.
It seems to me that this book is ripe (get it?) for analysis from food and gender historians alike. Since the book’s contributors include a number of prominent Republican politicians, maybe political historians will be interested, as well. But what are we, as historians of Mormonism, supposed to make of this? What, if anything, does Smoot’s inclusion signify? That Mormons make good dessert? Or perhaps something more?
*Unsurprisingly, The Stag Cook Book has been discussed on the Art of Manliness community forums on several occasions.