Friday, February 26, 2010

Reminiscing: Metropolitan Cook Book

Picture it: New York City, February 1964. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company is on the verge of launching the latest version of their cookbook. This time, things would be different, they thought. Forget photographing the food--they needed a new approach. They would hire an illustrator to bring the recipes to life. The result? This masterpiece, full of happy steaks and fish cavorting with onions and bottles of ketchup.

In this cookbook, everything from a slice of cake to a pepper mill has a face, smiling at you as you dig into the delicacies created by the authors of the Metropolitan Cook Book.

I put this one in just for Leah. The illustration speaks for itself:

Happy vegetables jumping into a happy bowl of soup-I think that Tracy Tomato is about to do a canon ball, so Connie Carrot had better watch out. Mr. Peter Parsnip looks on in amusement from the safety of the table below.

This fish seems a little bummed about being on a platter. Why the glum face, Frankie Fish? You have a parsley garnish--what more could a fish want? I love how the three other fish that get to stay in the water are totally taunting Frankie.

Here's where things begin to get disturbing. So we have a fish--let's call him Farley--wearing a bib and presiding over a table full of food. It appears that some of the food may very well be fish-based. Is he going to eat the fish? Are we meant to think that Farley is eating himself or just his friends? He seems pretty happy with his parsley hat, so maybe he's planning to eat his nemesis, Colin Catfish?

I don't really understand this one. Is it a pile of steaks (ham?) on some kind of trailer or wagon being pulled by other steaks wearing frilled white paper chop hats and holding bouquets of parsley? Is it supposed to be like a float in a parade? What are they so excited about? Being eaten? Do the squiggly lines indicate that the meat has been cooked, or are we looking at raw meat on the move?

Oddly, the chicken does not have a face. Instead, there are a lot of smiling potatoes hanging around on this platter and the one at the top appears to be using the chicken breast as a slide.

That is one fat chicken--anyone want to bet that there is a farmer lurking around the corner, just waiting for the right moment to make his move?

What is going on here? A happy onion holding a spoon is being taunted by a bottle of mustard with a cap that looks like a top hat? What does that have to do with white sauce?

This illustration of Eggtown is quite disturbing. Some of the eggs are happy, innocently going about their daily lives. In the middle, we have Elaine Egg, her large sun hat, and her egglet, Eve. Then, at the right, a giant dinosaur egg is hatching as other eggs look on--some seem angry, like Alistair, others like Juan seem happy, and still others like Julian seem nervous and unsure about what is happening. On the same page, but a world away, Frederick Frankfurter smiles nervously as he rotates over a grill.

This one is sort of mysterious as well. I guess that this is a bowl of rice--being carried by three cheese wedges? Why is the one wedge on top of the rice instead of helping? What a lazy bum. One of the eggs from Eggtown had to step in to help carry the chopsticks.

That is one evil little bean:

I don't even know what to say about this one. What is going on? What is that thing in the cloud supposed to be? Why is a radish walking on top of a bowl of potatoes? What are those little lines supposed to be?

What do you get when you gather bacon, a fried egg, some mustard, relish, lemon slices, a frankfurter, and some tins of anchovy and tuna? You get a heck of a fun sandwich party, that's what. If I saw a tin of anchovies with legs and arms, I think I would run away. Regardless of what you think of the illustration, the recipe for "Frankfurter-Cheese Filling" sounds positively revolting.

What is on this sandwich? A drumstick, some olives, a pickle, an egg, and some lettuce?

I think that Mama Cake needs Supernanny. The cupcakes are going crazy and she looks frazzled.

This cake appears to be wearing a bad toupee. Also, a cake licking itself is SO unappetizing. I would take a moment to check my cookie jar if I were you guys--make sure that your cookies aren't escaping via ladder, taking their luggage (?), and running away.

Is this apple skiing with forks on top of an apple pie? Is it about to eat itself in a pie? And how about that poor pie on the right getting hit in the face with another pie by a demented egg in a chef's hat?


These steaks and burgers sure seem happy to be near a grill and that bottle of ketchup is happily tending the spit while the jar of mustard looks on, relaxing.

For he's a jolly good frank, for he's a jolly good frank, for he's a jolly good fra-ank...

Do you guys get the joke? Fish steaks? Playing for stakes? Hahahahahaha! Love the visor.

Have a great weekend, gentle readers!


Leah said...

Nice picture. I feel bad for that one little guy. He needs some yeast Viagra.

liddadpg said...

Oh my! This was quite something! I think it's always frightening when food is given human characteristics AND eating utensils! It's like an episode of the "Twilight Zone."