As much as I have loved Salad’s For All Seasons and there are many, many recipes still to cook from there I felt I was due for a change.  There are only so many salads a girl can take.

A little dig through my pile of vintage cook books revealed this gem – The A-Z of Cooking from Octopus Books, 1976. 

Image (50)Just the cover sent my retro food antenna twitching that this was going to be gold.  Because right from the get-go, there were some mad quirks.  It’s called the A-Z of cooking.  And yet….only Appetizers to Wine are listed.   What, no zucchini, zabaglione or…wait for it, my new favourite food name….zuurkoolstamppot. ( I don’t care what’s in Z…trust me, we’re eating zuurkoolstampot that week!).

The inside cover of The A-Z of cooking tells me:

This is the compulsive “look up and learn’ book, where every cook, because of the original approach of the book, will find something new.  More helpful than a standard cookery book, more enjoyable than a cookery encyclopedia, the book is packed with 190 recipes which have been specially grouped  to give the ideas and situations when you are needing them”

Does anyone else think English may not have been that writer’s first language? 

I’m not going to go into the special groupings yet.  We’ll get to them in due course.

I did however just want to spend this post pointing out a few of the maddest bits of The  A-Z of Cooking right from the get go. 

Let’s start with page 13.  I have never actually screamed with fright when viewing a retro food photo before. 

Until this. 

Welcome To My Nightmare

Oh. My. God.  This thing looks like it wants to kill you.  Don’t be fooled by its supposedly fun little parsley toupé.  This nasty little fucker has got a backbone of prawns and it wants you, and your family, dead.  In the most painful way possible. 

 Image (2)Mango Mousse…Or Is It?

Moving very swiftly away from the psycho-killer trout, we come to page 30 of The A-Z of cooking and a Mango Mousse. 


Anyone care to address the elephant in the room?

 Mango Mousse

Who knew that back in 1976 mangoes and passionfruit were actually the same thing?

Little known fact* for you all.  It was only in 1977, as his first piece of business as newly elected President, that Jimmy Carter deemed that henceforth they would be distinct pieces of tropical fruit. 

*I swear on a stack of wikipedias that this  so-called fact is not something I just made up. 

Good Health…Good Grief!!!

Who remembers the great cucumber shortage of 1976?   No, me either but it is surely the only explanation for this picture of Burghul Salad on p 31. Even worse when you read the recipe and it says it feeds 8. I’m sure everyone enjoyed their half a piece of cucumber. I just hope that fisticuffs didn’t break out over which half of the family got a black olive.

Burghul SaladAnd also….I hate to bring things down to the level of the toilet.  But are little black ovoid shapes really the best garnish for a salad that already looks like kitty litter?

 Expecting The Unexpected

I’ll  leave you with possibly the worse recipe in the book. Filed under U for  “Unexpected Guest” this Chilled Ten Minute Potato Soup sounds utterly revolting.  Although, maybe there is a method to this madness.  Maybe it’s actually a warning. Do not turn up unexpected to the anonymous writer’s house and want a meal.  Because you’ll be given some disgusting concoction made from instant mash and dehydrated onions.  And it will be cold to boot.

Kind of makes the kitty litter salad seem not so bad. 

Chilled Potato Soup

 I think the A-Z of Cooking is going to be a hoot!  Coming soon…Adventurous Appetizers!

Have a great week!


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